Saturday, July 28, 2007

U.S. To Sell Arms To Saudi Arabia

The Bush administration has decided to supply billions of dollars in advanced new weapons to Saudi Arabia, other Arab allies of the United States and to Israel, senior State Department officials and congressional aides said Friday.
The arms and aid package, which the officials said is to be announced on Monday, is part of a U.S. initiative to reassure worried allies in the Middle East that despite its troubles in Iraq, the United States remains committed to the region. It also is meant to send a signal of resolve to Iran's increasingly confident leaders.

The package also will include new weapons for the United Arab Emirates, another U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, and both military and economic support to Egypt. Other details of the proposed arms sales weren't immediately available Friday.

Although it's likely to be controversial, the administration has decided to proceed with the sale and will compensate Israel — which seeks to maintain a "qualitative military edge" over its Arab neighbors — with military upgrades of its own, the officials said.

"All that has been sorted out," said a senior State Department official.

Israel has asked for access to the Air Force's most advanced fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor, and its stealth technology, which makes the aircraft more difficult to see on radar.
OK so lets examine this travesty in some detail. We are going to basically supply the whole region with weapons. Saudi Arabia is the country of origin of most of the suicide bombers within Iraq and is the known supplier of arms and money for the Sunni insurgents. Why would we even consider selling them any weapons? Money my friends, money. Now do you really feel safer?

How do we appease Israel for arming their neighbors, we arm them as well. This is foreign policy Bush style. Think of it this way, you look outside and see two neighborhood children fighting. The normal response would be to go and break up the fight. The Bush response to that same situation would be to go outside and give each of them a gun. When will this country demand their removal from power. They have destroyed our reputation and now want to arm the Muslim world. The same world they say is responsible for global terrorism. The war on terror just took on a whole new meaning.

Back Talk

A news commentary show that actually talks back to President Bush when he lies or says something stupid. This is what needs to be on the nightly news. Brilliant!!!

What Ever Happened to Privacy?

The United States and the European Union have agreed to expand a security program that shares personal data about millions of U.S.-bound airline passengers a year, potentially including information about a person's race, ethnicity, religion and health.
Under the agreement, airlines flying from Europe to the United States are required to provide data related to these matters to U.S. authorities if it exists in their reservation systems. The deal allows Washington to retain and use it only "where the life of a data subject or of others could be imperiled or seriously impaired," such as in a counterterrorism investigation.

According to the deal, the information that can be used in such exceptional circumstances includes "racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership" and data about an individual's health, traveling partners and sexual orientation.
What does my sexual orientation have to do with anything? Will you be stopped from traveling if you have liberal political beliefs, are Muslim, or belong to a Union? How will they gather such information? Will I be forced to answer a series of questions or be charged with some crime if I refuse? How will they know if the answers are true?
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff praised the pact as an "essential screening tool for detecting potentially dangerous transatlantic travelers." If available at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Chertoff said, such information would have, "within a matter of moments, helped to identify many of the 19 hijackers by linking their methods of payment, phone numbers and seat assignments."
Mr. Chertoff is a complete fool. There were many warnings about the 9/11 hijackers while they were in the United States learning how to fly yet all those warnings were ignored. He would like us to believe that had they known their country of origin and religion and political views before that 9/11 could have been averted? The F.B.I. knew that men were learning to fly but not asking about how to land and they did nothing. They had F.B.I. informants living with some of the hijackers in San Diego and did nothing. Now we are supposed to believe that gathering all this personal information will somehow make us safer?

What happens to this data once it is collected? Will it be sold to insurance companies who will then deny health coverage based on a questionnaire necessary to fly? We are wading into very dangerous territory with agreements such as this. This is the way to limit your civil rights and bring us closer to a police state. The American people need to understand that giving up their liberties for security will mean you will have neither.

Rapture Ready

Last week I posted this video from Max Blumenthal. Once again he has outdone himself while filming at the Christians United For Israel tour. This video is funny but also very alarming. How can people be so easily deluded into this irrational thinking?

Max Blumenthal is quickly becoming my favorite journalist.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Foreign Workers Abused at Embassy in Baghdad

Just when you think you have heard it all, this story comes to light.
Two American civilian contractors who worked on a massive U.S. Embassy construction project in Baghdad told Congress yesterday that foreign laborers were deceptively recruited and trafficked to Iraq to toil at the site, where they experienced physical abuse and substandard working conditions.
Doesn't this just make you so proud to be an American? Wait it gets better. The company that the United States hired to build the embassy, First Kuwaiti, was engaged in what amounts to slavery.
Testifying before the committee yesterday, John Owens, an American who worked for First Kuwaiti at the embassy site as a construction foreman from November 2005 to June 2006, said he found living and working conditions for the foreign laborers there "deplorable." Because of difficulty hiring Iraqis for work inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, most of the laborers were from such countries as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Sierra Leone, the committee was told.

Foreign workers lived in tightly packed trailers and had "insufficient equipment and basic needs -- stuff like shoes and gloves," Owens said.

They worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and made as little as $240 a month, he said. They were "verbally and physically abused" and had their salaries docked for petty infractions, he added.

Rory J. Mayberry, an emergency medical technician who worked briefly at the embassy site under a subcontract, testified that he was asked by First Kuwaiti managers to escort 51 Filipinos through the Kuwait airport and onto a flight to Baghdad. However, "all of our tickets said we were going to Dubai," he said, adding that a First Kuwaiti manager instructed him not to tell any of the Filipinos that they were going to Baghdad.

He said the men were basically "kidnapped by First Kuwaiti to work on the U.S. Embassy." Their passports had been confiscated, and they were driven away on buses after landing in Baghdad, then were "smuggled into the Green Zone," he said.
Any wonder why our image in the world is ruined? It will take a generation to repair our image in the world. The Bush administration has done nearly irreparable harm to our place in the world.

Inside The Surge

The Guardian's award-winning photographer and filmmaker Sean Smith spent two months embedded with US troops in Baghdad and Anbar province. His harrowing documentary exposes the exhaustion and disillusionment of the soldiers.

This should be required viewing for every American that still supports this war. This video left me shaking and disturbed. This is war and there are no winners in war.

What A Way To Support The Troops

If you read this and still think that this administration cares for the troops you are either delusional or stupid. You can decide which.
Servicemen and women who made huge sacrifices fighting in the war and now paying yet another price, even after coming home.

One soldier in particular is currently battling against a new "debt of service."

Brian Rodriguez is a fighter, an honorably discharged soldier who'd been deployed in Iraq.

"I was a combat engineer," Rodriguez said. "We deal with land mines, explosives."

He fought for his nation, only to return to his homeland and wage a fresh battle.

Former Army Specialist Rodriguez started getting bills for $700 for lost or damaged government property this summer. Although he was discharged some four years ago, bills recently arrived demanding payment, but giving no details on what or why -- nor do they offer a way to dispute the charges.

"For doing my job you're going to bill me?" Rodriguez said.

And he's not alone. A 2006 government report found more than 1,000 soldiers being billed a total of $1.5 million. And while fighting overseas put their lives on the line, this battle on paper could cost them their future by ruining their credit. Rodriguez will be reported to credit agencies next month.

"It makes a terrible point about the nature of military service today," citizen soldier Tod Ensign said.

Ensign is a veteran's advocate. He says this is all part of the military’s push to be run more like a business.

"They'll just pound him and call him, call his employers, and make his life as miserable as they can until he pays up," Ensign said.

Testimony before Congress detailed in a report found that "although unit commanders and finance offices are authorized to write off debts for lost and damaged equipment ... they have not always done so."

"It happens too often and it's just disgraceful," Sen. Charles Schumer said. "Here are people who are risking their lives for us and they come home and they're being treated as if they're criminals instead of heroes."

Because it's been four years since he left the Middle East, Rodriguez's battalion was dissolved and his commanders are long gone. And despite repeated requests, the Army never could tell us what piece of equipment Rodriguez was billed for, nor would they get rid of the debt.

"I did my time, I served my country and this is the thanks I get," Rodriguez said.

Their suggestion? Call your Congressman. Schumer said he'll reach out to the Army to intervene on Brian's behalf.
I am left speechless after reading this. Disgusting, just plain disgusting.

Giuliani and Romney May Skip You Tube Debate

Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani may have better things to do than answer YouTube users' questions at the GOP debate in St. Petersburg.
The news broke late Thursday that the former New York City mayor has scheduling issues with the Sept. 17 date, jeopardizing the showdown at the Mahaffey Theater.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also is frowning on the plan.

"I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman," Romney told the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader this week.
What each of these men are trying to say is that questions from regular Americans may be too difficult to answer so they will not show up. Giuliani may be forced to answer questions about his judgement since it was his decision to place the NYC emergency center into the complex that had been bombed once before. It was his decision to hire Bernard Kerik a man with suspicious ties to organized crime. It was his decision to announce his divorce from his second wife on television without his wife's knowledge. I could go on and on but I won't bore you with the facts. Time will bring this and more out in the open for the Republican front runner.

Mitt Romney may be confronted with his many flip flops on issues from abortion to gay rights. They don't call him multiple choice Mitt for nothing. He looks good but is there any real substance behind him? Is there anything that he truly believes in?

So far only Ron Paul and John McCain have agreed to the debate. Everyone should call these campaigns and demand that they answer questions from ordinary Americans. I find it funny that men who scream about taking the fight to the terrorists are so afraid of the little guy.

Turmoil In Pakistan Continues

I can never say it enough. Pakistan is the most dangerous nation on earth.
Hundreds of religious students clashed with police and occupied Islamabad's Red Mosque during its reopening Friday, demanding the return of a pro-Taliban cleric two weeks after an army raid to oust Islamic militants from the complex left more than 100 people dead.

A large explosion went off in a market area about a quarter-mile from the mosque, and local media reported several people had died. Police say four people were killed and 30 wounded.
Pakistan is the safe haven for Osama Bin Laden and the leadership of the Taliban. People need to remember that Pakistan was the only government that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

There are many in Pakistan who want Pervez Musharraf removed from power. Should that happen we will be confronted with a nuclear armed state run by terrorist sympathizers.
"Musharraf is a dog! He is worse than a dog! He should resign!" students shouted. Some lingered over the ruins of a neighboring girls' seminary that was demolished by authorities this week. Militants had used the seminary to resist government forces involved in the siege.
All of this is the result of a foreign policy that decided a war in Iraq was more profitable for Bush cronies than continuing the fight against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Where is Osama Bin Laden? Does anyone in our government even care? He is most surely in the western regions of Pakistan being protected by forces within the government of Pervez Musharraf. Why would he do this? Capturing Bin Laden could be the quickest way to his overthrow and a nuclear armed terrorist state. Now do you understand why the War in Iraq was an even more colossal blunder? Remember this column when you read about the first U.S. soldier killed in combat in Pakistan. I hope with all my heart that I am wrong but the recent events sure make that scenario all the more likely.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Old-line Republican warns 'something's in the works' to trigger a police state

This is one of the scariest scenarios I have read in a long time but it is not unimaginable with the current administration.
Thom Hartmann began his program on Thursday by reading from a new Executive Order which allows the government to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies.

He then introduced old-line conservative Paul Craig Roberts -- a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan who has recently become known for his strong opposition to the Bush administration and the Iraq War -- by quoting the "strong words" which open Roberts' latest column: "Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."

"I don't actually think they're very strong," said Roberts of his words. "I get a lot of flak that they're understated and the situation is worse than I say. ... When Bush exercises this authority [under the new Executive Order] ... there's no check to it. It doesn't have to be ratified by Congress. The people who bear the brunt of these dictatorial police state actions have no recourse to the judiciary. So it really is a form of total, absolute, one-man rule. ... The American people don't really understand the danger that they face."

Roberts said that because of Bush's unpopularity, the Republicans face a total wipeout in 2008, and this may be why "the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush's follies or the war, because they expect his unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory in next year's election."

However, Roberts emphasized, "the problem with this reasoning is that it assumes that Cheney and Rove and the Republicans are ignorant of these facts, or it assumes that they are content for the Republican Party to be destroyed after Bush has his fling." Roberts believes instead that Cheney and Rove intend to use a renewal of the War on Terror to rally the American people around the Republican Party. "Something's in the works," he said, adding that the Executive Orders need to create a police state are already in place.

"The administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists ... are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events," Roberts continued. "Chertoff has predicted them. ... The National Intelligence Estimate is saying that al Qaeda has regrouped. ... You have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda's not going to do it, it's going to be orchestrated. ... The Republicans are praying for another 9/11."

Hartmann asked what we as the people can do if impeachment isn't about to happen. "If enough people were suspicious and alert, it would be harder for the administration to get away with it," Roberts replied. However, he added, "I don't think these wake-up calls are likely to be effective," pointing out the dominance of the mainstream media.

"Americans think their danger is terrorists," said Roberts. "They don't understand the terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. ... The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism. Americans just aren't able to perceive that."

Roberts pointed out that it's old-line Republicans like himself, former Reagan associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein, and Pat Buchanan who are the diehards in warning of the danger. "It's so obvious to people like us who have long been associated in the corridors of power," he said. "There's no belief in the people or anything like that. They have agendas. The people are in the way. The Constitution is in the way. ... Americans need to comprehend and look at how ruthless Cheney is. ... A person like that would do anything."

Roberts final suggestion was that, in the absence of a massive popular outcry, "the only constraints on what's going to happen will come from the federal bureaucracy and perhaps the military. They may have had enough. They may not go along with it."
Listen to the complete audio of the interview here.

Dow Jones Gets Clobbered

A tidal wave of worry about housing and credit markets swept over Wall Street Thursday, sending the Dow industrials tumbling 311 points in its second-biggest point loss of the year.
The 30-share Dow (down 311.50 to 13,473.57, Charts) plunged nearly 450 points earlier in the session before moving off its lows and closing down about 2.3 percent. The Dow sank 416 points on Feb. 27 on worries about slowing global growth.

The broader S&P 500 (down 35.43 to 1,482.66, Charts) tumbled 2.3 percent while the tech-laden Nasdaq (down 48.83 to 2,599.34, Charts) fell 1.8 percent.

The uncertainty that unnerved investors Thursday came mainly on two fronts: tougher times for the credit markets and another barrage of bad news for housing.

Tighter credit is troubling to investors for two reasons. It's likely to slow the buyout boom that's helped prop up stock prices. And it could raise the cost of borrowing for companies, hurting corporate earnings.
Tomorrow should be a big indicator if this is just a one day drop or the start of a real stock market correction.

A correction would have a profound psychological effect on investors who often look at their whole financial picture when deciding when and what to purchase. Any correction would make people less wealthy and could contribute to a slowing economy. With economic growth at rates just above recession level, this is not a development that is needed by the economy but it is not unexpected.

Subpoena Issued to Karl Rove

Finally the man behind the U.S. Attorney firings is being forced to testify.
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is subpoenaing White House political adviser Karl Rove to compel him to testify about his role in the firing of 8 United States Attorneys.

Leahy says he's also subpoenaing White House political aide J-Scott Jennings.

Leahy says he's exhausted every avenue seeking the voluntary cooperation of Rove and Jennings.
Why are so many people willing to protect Karl Rove? He will never testify and when he doesn't a Contempt of Congress charge needs to be filed. These people feel they are above the law and while the Republicans had the majority they were. Times have finally changed.

This is what Congressional oversight looks like.

Special Prosecutor for Gonzales

A group of Senate Democrats on Thursday called for a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales perjured himself during Capitol Hill testimony.
At a news conference, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said he and other Democrats wanted to look into "potential perjury" by Gonzales during a hearing on Tuesday.

"His inability to answer simple and straightforward questions was just stunning," Schumer said. "Instead he tells the half-truth, the partial truth and everything but the truth."

It's the latest salvo in a dispute regarding President Bush's domestic surveillance program. On Wednesday night, the Justice Department said Gonzales "stands by" Senate testimony that appeared to contradict a memo about a White House meeting with congressional leaders in 2004.
Finally someone is holding these criminals to account. Alberto Gonzales is the most corrupt Attorney General in my lifetime and needs to be removed. How can we trust the Justice Department if its leader is under such a cloud? He lies with impunity and seemingly with no remorse.
It is time for the American people to be shown that the rule of law does matter and prosecute the Attorney General for perjury.

New Home Sales Sink

Yesterday I posted about the steep decline in existing home sales. This report documents that same slide in new home sales.
The pace of new home sales was weaker than expected in June, according to the government's latest look at the battered real estate and home building market.

New homes sold at an annual pace of 834,000 in the month, down 6.6 percent from the revised 893,000 rate in May. Economists surveyed by had forecast sales would slow to a 900,000 annual sales rate in June.

The median price of a new home fell to $237,900, down 2.2 percent from $243,200 a year earlier. A glut of new homes on the market have pushed down prices and the government figures may not fully reflect the softness in new home prices, as roughly three-quarters of builders surveyed by their trade group say they are offering incentives such as covering closing costs or offering home features for free in order to support sales.
In the early 1990's the housing market in NY took a steep decline. It was at that time that I was able to purchase a cooperative apartment in a suburb of New York City for $40,000.00. In order for me to buy that same apartment now I would need to pay roughly $160,000.00. If I had the same job with normal yearly raises I would not be able to afford the apartment I had purchased just 15 years ago. That is the same situation most people are now in.

If you already own a home then you can take advantage of the built up equity but for first time home buyers it is becoming increasingly impossible to afford even a simple home in many major cities. What we are witnessing is the correction in the housing market. This correction will hurt in the short term but will actually lead to greater affordability for many in the long term. Those who will be most hurt are those who purchased their homes within the past two years. These people can be looking at mortgages higher than the resale value. This has been the cause of the recent spike in foreclosures. That spike is expected to continue for the next year. As Betty Davis said "It's going to be a bumpy ride".

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

House Democrats Pass Contempt Citations

The House Judiciary Committee voted contempt of Congress citations Wednesday against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and President Bush's former legal counselor, Harriet Miers.
The 22-17 party-line vote — which would sanction the pair for failure to comply with subpoenas on the firings of several federal prosecutors — advanced the citation to the full House.
It is about time that oversight and accountability are returned to Washington. Can you or I just ignore a subpoena?

These people are corrupt and need to be held to the same standard as every other American citizen. If they have nothing to hide why are they trying to hide everything? The American people need to demand answers to the many questions regarding corruption in this administration.

The Housing Slump Continues

Sales of existing US homes fell much more heavily than predicted in June to their lowest level in over four and a half years as the property market continued to display shaky foundations, an industry survey showed Wednesday.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said existing home sales dropped 3.8 percent to an annualized pace of 5.75 million last month, worse than analyst forecasts which had anticipated only a decline to 5.90 million properties.

May sales were revised down to a rate of 5.98 million apartments and homes, and sales have now fallen for four straight months.
Last week I wrote about a friend in the mortgage industry who said her firm has slowed to a crawl. Another friend in the industry said stricter underwriting guidelines have killed every deal he had pending. This is not a good sign for the short term economic health of the nation but I think it is actually healthy for long term growth.

People need to buy homes that they can truly afford and that is becoming harder and harder to do. A real correction in home prices can only make that goal more achievable.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Diplomats Received Political Briefings

White House aides have conducted at least half a dozen political briefings for the Bush administration's top diplomats, including a PowerPoint presentation for ambassadors with senior adviser Karl Rove that named Democratic incumbents targeted for defeat in 2008 and a "general political briefing" at the Peace Corps headquarters after the 2002 midterm elections.
On Jan. 4, just after the 2006 elections tossed the Republicans out of congressional power, Rove met at the White House with six U.S. ambassadors to key European missions and the consul general to Bermuda while the diplomats were in Washington for a State Department conference.

According to a department letter to the Senate panel, Rove explained the White House views on the electoral disaster while Sara M. Taylor, then the director of White House political affairs, showed a PowerPoint presentation that pinned most of the electoral blame on "corrupt" GOP lawmakers and "complacent incumbents." One chart in Taylor's presentation highlighted the GOP's top 36 targets among House Democrats for the 2008 election.
We knew that this administration was the most political in our history but this practice seems not only unethical but also illegal.
In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, asked whether the briefings inappropriately politicized the diplomatic agencies or violated prohibitions against political work by most federal employees.

"I do not understand why ambassadors, in Washington on official duty, would be briefed by White House officials on which Democratic House members are considered top targets by the Republican party for defeat in 2008. Nor do I understand why department employees would need to be briefed on 'key media markets' in states that are 'competitive' for the president," Biden wrote.
How can anyone still support this administration? Politics and winning elections are all that is important to these people and running the government is secondary. Nothing they have done has shown any competence from Katrina to the War in Iraq but politically they are one of the smartest administrations in history. Luckily in 2006 competence trumped politics and the country showed some intelligence and put the Democrats back in charge of both houses of Congress. This article shows us that they will do anything including illegally using foreign service officers for political gain.

Gonzales Denies Pressuring Ashcroft

In a direct rebuke to the testimony of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales denied pressuring former Attorney General John Ashcroft to approve the warrant less wire tapping program.
Gonzales said that he and Card had been urged by congressional leaders of both parties to take steps necessary to ensure that the unidentified intelligence program survive a looming deadline for its expiration. To do that, Gonzales said, he needed Ashcroft's permission.

At the time, Ashcroft was in an intensive care unit recovering from gall bladder surgery and Gonzales was Bush's White House legal counsel. Ashcroft had transferred the powers of his office to Deputy Attorney General James Comey.

"We went there because we thought it was important for him to know where the congressional leadership was on this," Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee in his first public explanation of the meeting.
Alberto Gonzales has a history of lying and can not be believed on this issue. Today's grilling at a Congressional hearing included statements of mistrust.
"The constitutional authority and responsibility for congressional oversight is gone," said Specter, the Judiciary Committee's senior Republican. "If that is to happen, the president can run the government as he chooses, answer no questions."

Glaring at Gonzales just a few feet away at the witness table, Specter declared, "The attorney general has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor."

"I don't trust you," Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, told Gonzales.
No one should trust Alberto Gonzales and a special prosecutor should be appointed to get to the truth of many issues. Where is the Democratic version of Ken Starr when you need him?

Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect Today

After ten years of Republican obstruction, the minimum wage was finally raised today to 5.85 per hour.
It ends the longest span without a federal minimum wage increase since it was enacted in 1938. The previous increase came in September 1997, when a bill signed by President Bill Clinton raised the minimum 40 cents, to $5.15 an hour.

Legislation signed by President Bush in May increases the wage 70 cents each summer until 2009, when all minimum-wage jobs will pay no less than $7.25 an hour.
The only way this bill was even passed was because the Democrats put it into the war funding bill otherwise these low wage earners would still be working for $5.15 per hour.

This is an improvement but with the rising cost of housing this does nothing to truly help the lowest earners in our society. What is needed is a region based living wage. No one that works a full time job should have to live in poverty in the richest nation on earth.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bush Approval Tumbles

I didn't realize you could actually tumble when you are already so low, but the new approval rating of the nitwit that occupies the White House has fallen to 25% with a 71% disapproval rating.
According to a new American Research Group poll, just 25% of Americans approve of the way President Bush is handling his job as president and 71% disapprove. These are record lows for the survey.

When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 23% approve and 73% disapprove.
My question is who makes up the 25% and what planet do they live on? It is nice to see the sleeping giant finally waking up to the realization that we are living through the most corrupt and inept administration in our history.

Democrats Press House to Expand Health Care Bill

After a rare bipartisan agreement in the Senate to expand insurance coverage for low-income children, House Democrats have drafted an even broader plan that also calls for major changes in Medicare and promises to intensify the battle with the White House over health care.
President Bush has threatened to veto what he sees as a huge expansion of the children’s health care program, which he describes as a step “down the path to government-run health care for every American.” The House measure calls for changes that the administration will probably find even more distasteful, including cuts in Medicare payments to private health plans.
One of the questions I always have regarding health care is why we talk about what it would cost to insure all citizens while we never question the cost of war. The bill would limit private plans which are costing the government more than traditional medicare. You only need to know who is earning that extra money to see who will strongly oppose any legislation to curb those costs. The answer is the insurance industry which continues to make record profits in health care.
Proponents of the private plans, offered by companies like UnitedHealth and Humana, say they provide more benefits than traditional Medicare.

But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the government paid the private plans, on average, 12 percent more than it would have cost to care for the same people in traditional Medicare. Moreover, it said, payments to the fastest-growing type of plan, known as private fee-for-service plans, are 19 percent higher than the cost of traditional Medicare.

The House bill would gradually reduce these payments so that Medicare would pay the same amount, regardless of whether a beneficiary was in a private plan or in traditional Medicare.

AARP, which represents nearly 39 million older Americans, and the American Medical Association said they would begin running television advertisements on Monday to secure passage of the House bill.
The barrage of advertisements paid for by insurance company lobbyists will surely join the advertisements paid for by the AARP and the AMA. Will the media cover both sides of this issue or will they only show the advertisements paid for by the insurance industry lobbyists? The pharmaceutical industry is a huge advertiser and will undoubtedly pressure the media to withhold the competing advertisements. Will they fold to the pressure or will they finally act in the public interest?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"Why Do They Hate Us"

The Second article from todays Washington Post.
Recently, I found myself in Dallas, a place I'd never been before. As a Muslim writer, I felt about going there pretty much the way an American writer might have felt about heading to the tribal areas of Pakistan: nervous, with the distinct suspicion that the locals carried guns and weren't too fond of folks who look like me.

So I was surprised by the extraordinary hospitality I encountered on my trip. And I still remember the politeness with which one elderly gentleman addressed me in a bookshop. He held a copy of my latest novel, "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," and examined the face on its cover, comparing it to mine. Then he said, nodding once as if to dip the brim of an imaginary hat: "So tell me, sir. Why do they hate us?"
Once you read the rest of this article you will begin to understand the reasons for much of the hatred towards the United States. Yes part of it is jealousy but the much larger part are policies that destroy life for these people in their home countries while the American public stays in a state of denial due to the complete lack of media coverage available on these topics. We need to know as much about our foreign policies and their consequences as we do about Paris Hilton. Unfortunately we have a long way to go to meet that goal.

Understanding the Muslin Faith

I have always felt until we can understand the true Muslim faith and not just the fringe elements willing to kill that we can never truly stop the threat of terrorism. Today was this excellent article in the Washington Post that is a must read for anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of the Muslim faith and the mistakes in policy that have lead us to where we are now.

The American people need to understand the complexity that is the Muslim faith and stop with the generalities that it is a violent religion bent on world domination. You will never be able to stop terrorism until you begin to have an understanding of the root elements. This article is an excellent place to start your journey of understanding.

Gas Prices Rise on Refineries’ Record Failures

Only in the oil industry could complete failure result in greater profit.
Oil refineries across the country have been plagued by a record number of fires, power failures, leaks, spills and breakdowns this year, causing dozens of them to shut down temporarily or trim production. The disruptions are helping to drive gasoline prices to highs not seen since last summer’s records.

These mechanical breakdowns, which one analyst likened to an “invisible hurricane,” have created a bottleneck in domestic energy supplies, helping to push up gasoline prices 50 cents this year to well above $3 a gallon. A third of the country’s 150 refineries have reported disruptions to their operations since the beginning of the year, a record according to analysts.
It is evident by the lack of capital expenditures that profit is the only goal of these companies. What other industry could allow the complete breakdown of their manufacturing capacity and still maintain and GROW their profits? It is time for Congressional action to force the capital expenditures necessary to modernize production facilities. It is quite obvious that if left to their own devices that nothing will be invested to improve this situation. The Oil industry has America by the balls and the Bush administration is helping to tighten the grip.

It is time for a windfall profits tax with the proceeds being used to fund alternate sources of energy. Our national security and economic future demand this type of action.

Tammy Faye Has Died

Tammy Faye Messner has died at 65. The former wife of Televangelist Jim Baker had a long bout with cancer. Why would I post this message on this site? Tammy Faye was the first person in the religious right to openly embrace the gay community. If there were more people like her in this world prejudice would be a thing of the past.

She was outrageous and loving with a love of life that was infectious. I am very grateful to her for having been a champion of the GLBT community. She could see what we have known for a long time. It is a community of love and acceptance where difference is secondary to what holds us all together. She realized that after it was the GLBT community that rallied to her side in her time of great adversity. It was something she never forgot. Rest in peace Tammy Faye. The world was a better place for having known you.