...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003
      ( 12:16 PM )
Bush To Declare WAR IS OVER

Wooohoooooo! Yippeee! The war is over, let's celebrate! We sure kicked some ass, didn't we?! Yeeehaww!!

Let's have a party! Let's have lots of parades with streamers and yellow ribbons!!

Hey...where's everybody going?

What do you mean you don't have time to party because you have to go to your second job so you can afford to feed your family? ...but, but... we have to celebrate! We need a parade!

The war is OVER!!!!

Hey! Get back here!....

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Tuesday, April 29, 2003
      ( 1:40 PM )
Economics 101

Let's talk a little economics. I wanted to blog about this yesterday, but the news about Mike Hawash sort of preoccupied me. The Treasury Department came out with figures last night on the expected deficit:

Through the first six months of the budget year,
the government has run up a deficit of $252.65
. Analysts expect the final 2003 budget
gap to be well above $300 billion, setting a record.
The Bush administration has cited the need for
increased spending on defense and security, as
well as lower revenues from a sluggish economy,
as the main reasons for the shortfall.

Okay, let me get this straight. In the first six months of this year, the government has borrowed upwards of $250 BILLION. Based on that rate, how can they only be forecasting the whole of 2003 to be only a little over $300 Billion? I expect we may see a deficit nearing $500 Billion by the end of this year. With this kind of deficit, BushCo wants a $700 million tax cut. He won't get that, but he might get his fallback number of $500 million (unless Voinovich et al can remain strong). In addition, he hasn't even begun to give the true bill for not only the war in Iraq, but all the other defense spending he's doing on contracts to rebuild Iraq and whatever else he's going to have to spend money on in the remainder of this year, which could include other terrorist attacks, Afghanistan re-emerging as a war zone, Kashmir, North Korea, and the rest of the issues in the middle east, not to mention the fact that BushCo is still hot on "missle defense" spending. So all this added together leads me to the same conclusion I came to several years ago:

Repbulicans WANT a big deficit. They WANT to be in debt. When the country is in debt, we have to "cut spending." "Cutting spending" is the hallmark of the Republican credo, and it is code for "get rid of social programs for the most needy of our country." Instead of keeping the tax revenue that we have, which is already much lower because of the ongoing (unadmitted) recession we've been in, they prefer to cut that tax revenue even further. This makes it even more necessary for the government to borrow from "investors." Who do you think the investors are? Not Joe America. Our government is in debt to other countries.

"But, Mama," you say, "doesn't being in debt to other countries make us more vulnerable at a time when we are trying to increase our security on all levels?" Why, yes it does. If you think that is the antithesis to what the Administration wants, I will say you are wrong. I think the Administration has no true investment in being secure or safe or taking measures to make this country self-sufficient on the economic front or the energy resources front. If we actually took the measures to get ourselves debt free and dependent on non-fossil fuels, why then we'd have hardly any reason to increase our defense spending budget.

But I digress. Back to "cutting spending." The reason Republican Administrations LIKE running up huge deficits is that not only does it give them the excuse to cut out much needed programs, but it leaves following administrations, especially if they are Democratic administrations with the deficit ball, and then they too have to cut out programs. BushCo WANTS a big federal government when it comes to "homeland security," ie, spying on and imprisoning its own citizens, but when it comes to necessary things like education, welfare for the poor and unemployed, children's health, elderly people's care, all those kinds of things - well, it's not the federal government's responsibility!

The name of the game with this Administration has been "unfunded mandates." First was Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education mandate. It is currently leaving thousands of children behind. States and local districts not only don't have the money to comply with that federal mandate, but they are unable to support the basic needs of schools and school children. Oregon is the worst state in the nation on this right now, with students in several districts having their school year cut by as much as 3 weeks, except in districts where teachers have volunteered to work for no pay. Second was the Homeland Security mandate. States cannot pay for the requirements sent down from the Federal Government to comply with this mandate. The Portland Police Department alone is overspent to the tune of $2million just because of this mandate.

But BushCo's budget doesn't say, let's hold off on cutting taxes right now, we need to pay for what we want to accomplish. No, what his budget says is: let's cut the taxes of the wealthiest people in the country, let's give more loopholes to corporations, let's not allow pharmaceutical companies to be sued if they kill a lot of people, and on top of that, since we're going to be seeing less in revenue, let's cut Veterans' Benefits by $14 billion, let's get rid of Early Head Start, let's forget the whole Medicaid for people who need Aids drugs, and while we're at it, let's just not worry about those old people, they're gonna die soon anyway.

Not only does the Administration encourage the building deficit and is doing nothing practical or of long-term benefit to the millions of out of work Americans, BushCo is also conspicuously quiet on the figures that came out this week on corporate executive pay and benefits. An AP article on Sunday estimated that investors have lost $7 trillion on paper since March 2000 and the nation's unemployment rate has steadily risen from 4.7% in 2001 to 5.8 in 2002 (and we all know that by the accounting method used, that means unemployment is actually somewhere around 11%). YET, the combined salary and bonus packages of the average midrange CEO rose to $1.8 million in 2002, a 10% increase from the year before. For example, while the share price for Tyco International dropped 71%, its CEO Dennis Koslowski's compensation was $76.63 million, an increase of 82%. While the share price for SPX dropped 45%, its CEO John Blystone received $55.90 million in compensation, an increase of 1,141%!!! (yes, I typed that correctly). Source for these figures is Aon Consulting's eComp Database.

So what we have is an increasingly divided economy - the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. Republicans are quick to dismiss the idea that there is a class system in this country, but it seems obvious to me that not only are they aware of it, they are purposely making the class divide larger. Not only that, but the obvious empire goals of BushCo seem in direct contrast to the economic foundation it's laying in this country. There doesn't seem to be anyone with any logical brains telling the president that he can be as dominant as he wants internationally, but it's all for nothing if his country implodes from the weight of deficit spending and recession. In addition, with the huge push early on for "free trade" and giving the WTO so much power, now that we are one of the most derided nations in the world, how can BushCo think that our trade situation will get any better either?

While the press finds more fantastic eye candy in reporting about Iraq than about the new deficit figures, it can't escape the average American for much longer that the president is running the country in the exact opposite way Joe America would ever run his own household budget. Already today alone, there are reports that Pharmacia will be laying off thousands in Michigan and New Jersey and Ericcson is also cutting thousands of jobs.

It will be interesting to see how BushCo avoids this issue as the election approaches, because there is no way that the economy can improve enough before then to show any kind of recovery. On top of that, it will be interesting to see how the press reports this issue. If the Democratic candidates can keep it on the forefront, it is a winner. Do you know why?

Because it's STILL the economy, stupid.

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Monday, April 28, 2003
      ( 12:53 PM )
Mike Hawash Charged

Reuters just released this story. Mike Hawash has now been charged with "conspiracy to levy war against the United States, conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda and conspiracy to contribute services to al Qaeda and the Taliban."

Tomorrow was the deadline a judge had set for the government to either charge him or release him. Until now, he's been held secretly for a month in prison with no charges against him and no contact with the outside world. The charges against him have to do with the other people arrested last year here in Portland and accused of trying to join Al Qaeda.

I have a deep distrust for anything that comes out of John Ashcroft's office, and considering Mike's reputation here, and the fact that this entire situation has been clouded in secrecy, I am not convinced just because the government has charged him with anything that they actually have evidence.

The problem is going to be whether Mike is afforded his consitutional rights as a U.S. citizen to due process. At this point, I'm not going to hold my breath that the government is going to provide him with a fair trial, much less reveal their "secret" information on him. I feel awful for his family and friends right now.

What is going to happen with the scheduled support rally for tomorrow morning? As soon as I find out, I'll update here.

UPDATE: here is an excellent article about the secret warrants and searches and wire tapping that can now be conducted on U.S. citizens under the "anti-terrorism" laws. What is going on here is that you can be arrested, charged and convicted without ever knowing what the basis was for the government spying on you without your knowledge. And this is NOT about immigrants or illegal aliens, people. This is about US CITIZENS.

UPDATE 2: KATU has posted the statement from the Justice Department on Mike's charges. KGW doesn't have much more but gives the basis for the secret investigation as being that a few of the "Portland 6" were seen wearing "ethnic garb and shooting shotguns" in Skamania. This doesn't jive with the lifestyle of Mike Hawash, and I will be very curious to see what the actual evidence is linking him to these yahoos. Besides the fact that they are a bunch of numbskulls, why the Justice Department feels all the resources being used on them are necessary is beyond me, considering the fact that they never had an actual "plot" against anyone or anything here in the U.S. and they weren't even bright enough to follow through with their political fervor to fight with the Taliban. Which leads me back to Mike - it escapes me how a man of his stature, reputation and links to his community would participate with this group, much less even have these political leanings to the extent he would conspire in such a way. I will be anxious to hear a statement from his family or attorneys. There is no word on whether now that there have been charges if a gag order remains in place on the secrecy of the whole thing.

UPDATE 3: The Free Mike Hawash Organization will have a statement soon. When I see it, I'll post the link here. The website makes the point that Mike has neither been indicted nor has his case been heard by a Grand Jury. The website claims this is a case of guilt by association.

UPDATE 4: Here is the Statement of Friends of Mike Hawash. They reiterate my thoughts on the absurdity of Hawash wanting to travel to Afghanistan to fight. This will be an interesting case in how the government tries to pull off secret trials against US citizens with secret evidence, gained with secret warrants. I only hope Mike and all the others like him will get his deserved fair trial.

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      ( 11:57 AM )
Deep Throat Revealed...?

Doing what investigative reporters don't seem to know how to do anymore, college students at the University of Illinois (my brother's alma mater), under the guidance of journalism professor Bill Gaines, have taken 4 years to painstakingly research and uncover the identity of Bob Woodward's Deep Throat. Thanks to bartcop for the heads up on this really interesting story on a missing piece of American history.

And their conclusion? Fred Fielding, the deputy counsel under John Dean. All roads lead back to Fielding, the students say. Every piece of information attributed to Deep Throat can be traced to Fielding. The response of Carl Bernstein was that the students should be "spanked" for trying to find out who a reporter's source was. "They should be learning how to protect sources," he whined. But Prof. Gaines responded that Woodward and Bernstein didn't protect Deep Throat because they turned him into a character in their book and movie. Besides, has been, the students were learning how to investigate and research.

Sounds like "reporters" nowadays could use a class or two from Prof. Gaines. Investigative reporting, especially when it comes to gatekeeping on the government, seems to have gone the way of.... Deep Throat.

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      ( 11:17 AM )
All in the Family

Did anyone see the 60 Minutes piece last night about Halliburton and the post-war contracts? It was jaw-dropping to watch the display of inbred-ism going on with the government and the companies it awards contracts to. As Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center For Public Integrity, a non-profit organization that investigates corruption and abuse of power by government and corporations, said, it's not about a "revolving door" policy, "there is no door. There's no wall. I can't tell where one stops and the other starts."

Just a few prime examples:

Of course, we all know about Dick Cheney. While he was Secretary of Defense, in 1992, he commissioned Kellog, Brown & Root (The Halliburton subsidiary) to do a study on whether the government would benefit from privatizing work the military then did. Of course, the answer was "why, it would work very well to privatize the military, Mr. Cheney!" Thus, over the next 8 years, KB&R and another company got 2,700 contracts worth billions of dollars. Not only that, but Dick Cheney, who didn't have one minute of corporate experience ever was made the CEO of Halliburton upon his exit from the government. Then while he was at Halliburton, it doubled the amount of government contracts it received.

Of course, Mr. Cheney has done nothing illegal. It's all legal! They wrote the laws so it could be! Let's have a look at who else uses that wide-open revolving door. Shockingly, many of them sit on the Defense Policy Board:

Richard Perle, who we all know had to step down from his chairmanship of the board for his ties to several defense contracting companies;

James Woolsey (former CIA director), works for the consulting firm of Booz, Allen, Hamilton (which did nearly $700 million in business with the Pentagon last year);

Jack Sheehan (retired 4-star general), is now a senior vice president at the Bechtel corporation (which just won a $680 million contract to rebuild the infrastructure in Iraq - this contract, incidently, was awarded by the State Department, and none other than former Secretary of State George Schultz sits on Bechtel's Board).

Not mentioned in 60 Minutes story, here are some other members of the Defense Policy Board that are quite adeptly using that non-existent revolving door:

Richard Allen, former national security advisor (now the senior counsel to APCO worldwide and registered lobbyist for Alliance Aircraft);

Gen. (ret.) Ronald Fogleman, former member of joint chiefs of staff (now on the board of directors of defense contractor companies including Rolls-Royce North America, North American Airlines, AAR Corproation and the Mitre Corporation. More than $900 million in contracts were awarded in 2000 to companies on whose boards he sits. He is also currently the president and COO of the Bar J Cattle Company.);

Admiral (ret.) David Jeremiah, formerly Deputy Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (now servers as director or advisor for at least five defense contractors, which were awarded more than $10 billion in contracts in 2002. He is a member of the MITRE Board of Trustees);

Henry Kissinger (enough said);

Admiral (ret.) William Owens, former vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (now board member of five companies which received mroe than $60 million in defense contracts in 2002, including Symantic, Teledesic LLC and Science Applications International Corp (SAIC)).

It almost makes one stop to consider the truth behind the Syrian foreign minister Farouk al-Sharaa's statement that the war on Iraq was conducted in order to make money from post-war contracts. He better watch out. There's probably lots more money to be made in post-war Syria.

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      ( 10:28 AM )
Democracy Non-Grata

What if the eventual "democracy" in Iraq votes to have weapons of mass destruction or to not sell its oil to the U.S., or votes in a Shiite cleric as its leader? How much of a "democracy" are we actually going to install? (this is a rhetorical question). There was an excellent article in The Oregonian's Sunday Editorial section by Roger Morris (which of course doesn't have an online link), discussing the US record of "regime change." He reiterates the fact that at no time when we have either overtly or covertly intervened in countries did true democracies emerge. Our only motivation has always been our own interests. The prime example is Iraq itself:

"U.S. arms and aid for propping up an
Iraqi monarchy in the 1950's, CIA-backed
coups in 1963 and 1968, one bringing in the
Baathists and the second bringing in Saddam
himself. The Gulf War. Now its sequel. Five
times in a generation, Washington intervened
to ensure that Iraq did not defy U.S. interests."

It doesn't matter if BushCo is vindicated with some sort of discovery of WMD (I'm not holding my breath), whatever excuse they use, it will always ring hollow. There won't ever be a true democracy because the U.S. will forever be directing the interests of Iraq towards its own, there won't ever be true liberty for the people of Iraq, because that would mean they could decide what to do with their oil, they could decide to support Palestinian independence movements, they could decide that they don't really agree that Israel should be the only country allowed to have WMD in the region, they could decide they're not interested hosting our occupation...and none of those decisions would ever be allowed to be made.

It's a very sobering thought to realize that your own government not only blatantly lies to the world and to us, its citizens, in order to obtain power and dominance and to further its own greed - and it's even more sobering to realize that we as a nation are doing nothing to stop this pattern from repeating itself.

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      ( 9:53 AM )
Clash in Perspectives

Overheard this morning as I got ready for work:

"da da da da da da da! eeeeee!" [SPLASH]
"Hey! Get that thing out of the toilet! Do you think the bathroom is your own personal amusement park?"

ahhh, one more thing to baby proof.

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Friday, April 25, 2003
      ( 3:26 PM )
It's Up to Us to Stop Unjust Imprisonment

I'm a little late on the bandwagon today, but I want my voice to join the chorus. Thanks to Emma over at Notes on the Atrocities (another fabulous Oregon blogger), here is notice on a rally being held in downtown Portland on Tuesday, April 29 (that's this coming Tuesday, kids) in support of Mike Hawash. I've blogged about Mike a couple of times, as have many Oregon and non-Oregon bloggers. He is the local fellow here in the portland area, a U.S. citizen, who was taken into custody by the federal government a month ago and has been held since then with no charges against him. Supposedly he is a "material witness" though God only knows what the hell that means. All we know at this point is that John Ashcroft says that if you're a "material witness" then they can hold you incommunicado endlessly without charging you.

I hope tons of people turn out for the support rally in Portland, and in other cities.

This issue is the watershed issue for the citizens of this country to take back control of our rights and our Constitution. Not only is it unjust for a U.S. citizen (or anyone, for that matter) to be held secretly in this way, it opens up a slippery slope of police-state tactics that we should do everything we can to keep from happening in our country. This kind of imprisonment smells of the British tactic of Internment used in the north of Ireland in the early 70's. While that particular internment made use of massive sweeps of people based on very faulty intelligence and kept hundreds imprisoned indefinitely without charges, this kind of internment is just as insipid. It is no less than a terror tactic used by the state against its citizens. While we are able, we the citizens must be the last gatekeepers of our own rights and freedoms. Standing up against abuses of justice like what is happening to Mike Hawash is not only the right thing to do, it is imperative. We are without excuse. It is our own fault if we allow our elected government to take us down the road to a police state where we have no right to counsel, to silence, to privacy or to due process .

Could you live with yourself if there was a time you could have spoken out and you didn't?

See you at the courthouse on Tuesday.

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      ( 8:32 AM )
Really, No, He's Not My Friend!!

"He did not need this HUG OF DEATH."

--Khalil E Jahshan, Executive Vice President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, describing the unwanted public support of President Bush for new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

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      ( 8:22 AM )

Bumper sticker seen on my walk to the bus this morning:

"STOP THE BOMBING! (reusable bumpersticker)"

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Thursday, April 24, 2003
      ( 1:56 PM )
Hey, Oregon Bloggers: Did you feel that one?

Little burst of an earthquake here on Faultline Central. According to the news it happened at 12:26 and registered 3.9. If you were walking around, you probably didn't feel it. If you were sitting at a desk (like me), it was quite a sturdy jolt. Nothing like what I experienced in Seattle two years ago, but still - got the heart beating a bit. We now return you to our regular broadcasting...

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      ( 1:23 PM )
Oh, Crap.

JUST IN: North Korea, through General Li Gun, its representative to the talks with the U.S. and China, said "boldly and blatantly" that N. Korea had nuclear weapons. Then he said "Now what are you going to do about it?"

How's that ol' pre-emptive war policy lookin' to ya now, Mr. Bush?

...that whole "axis of evil" deterence thing isn't looking too great either, eh? Or is it just me?

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      ( 11:30 AM )
Private Eyes are Watching You

This is an issue that P brought to my attention several days ago. Because of being sick and not having time, I'm just now blogging about it. But even though it's a little after the fact, I haven't seen much discussion on the topic, and so I'm going to address it. What I'm talking about is the appointment of Nuala O'Connor Kelly as the "Privacy Officer" of the Homeland Security Department. Kelly's role as Privacy Officer will be to ensure that the technologies used by the department do not erode privacy protections.

Well, what's the big deal? Isn't it good that the Homeland Security Office is concerned about privacy? Let's take a closer look at Ms. Kelly's history in the world of "protecting privacy." She was the Privacy Officer for DoubleClick. This was the company that built software to spy on people's online preferences, track the consumers as they traveled the internet, and then sell the information. There was a not-so-quiet scandal about the company's intentions, which ended in DoubleClick settling court cases with attorneys general of several states for privace violations. The company said it was working to ensure that its "surveillance network" wouldn't invade consumers' privacy.

DoubleClick tried to repair its image by setting up a "privacy advisory board" to show that it was sensitive to consumers' privacy protections. When the board was named, consumer rights advocates laughed outloud at who was in charge. None of the members were true privacy advocates. One member of that board was Nuala O'Connor Kelly.

This is evidently the kind of message BushCo wants to send: we don't care what it looks like, we're appointing who we want and you can't do anything about it. The fact that Homeland Security's chosen privacy advocate was an apologist for DoubleClick, the most scandalous name in privacy abuse in recent history boggles the mind. Is there no end to the brash, unthinking moves this administration is capable of? At this point, it doesn't seem like it. Actually, that they would even appoint a privacy advocate is curious, since two of their main pet projects are about the total abrogation of privacy rights: TIPS, where everyone is encouraged to spy on their neighbors and report the government, and TIA (total information awareness), where the government can keep complete logs on everyone.

And yet, there has been little to no outcry from Democrats in Congress to the fact that BushCo and Republicans want to make the PATRIOT Act permanent. When are people in this country going to wake up to what is happening? The whole attitude of "well, I don't do anything wrong, so it doesn't bother me" seems to be so pervasive that no one gets that this is beside the point. It doesn't matter if you do everything right in your whole life, if the government decides to keep computerized information on its citizens, things are going to get messed up, and your rights are going to disappear.

Are we Americans so incredibly flustered and scared and victimized after 9/11 that we are willing to give up our most basic rights for some false sense of "security?" Could it be true that we're willing to pompously wave our flags and bombast our patriotic propaganda all over the place when we're bombing other countries, but when it comes right down to defending the very foundation of our own Constitution, we'll just lay down like doormats so the government can roll over us and glean whatever information it wants from our private affairs?

Science fiction has become real: the government can get your list of checked-out books from your library without your permission, schools can demand that your child be fingerprinted in order to get his lunch, you can be arrested as a "material witness" and held indefinitely in jail without being charged with a crime, and the media only reports what the government talks about.

In an interesting aside to the whole Nuala O'Connor Kelly appointment, this news went widely unreported last week: the president's top IT advisor quit last week, leaving the administration without a high-ranking official in charge of cybersecurity. What this basically means is that the Administration has a total lack of understanding of the importance of cybersecurity.

Is no one paying attention? Is no one concerned?

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      ( 10:24 AM )
Great Article

About Jon Stewart's Daily Show (of which I am a faithful watcher), by Susan Douglas in The Nation. Stewart is the true antidote to the corporate media.

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      ( 10:17 AM )
Rare Kudos to Republican Senator

I would like to give kudos to Senator George Voinovich of Ohio. Attack-Dog Rove has sent Bush to pound the moderate Republican Voinovich for holding out against the Bush Tax Cut Plan ("of course giving rich people breaks will help the economy!"). Again, here is another example of BushCo not thinking ahead. Do they have ANY people with a broader vision than just today's headlines? Here are some issues I would think they might have wanted to address before sending the Pres out to pound Senators in his own party:

1. Remember Jim Jeffords? He was a moderate Republican who was usually faithful to the party. But when he didn't go along with Bush's education "reform," he was attacked so bitterly by Rove's dogs that he went independent, taking the power out of the Republicans' hands in the Senate. You would think BushCo might have learned from that. Being cruel and punishing Voinovich and Olympia Snowe (quoted as saying that she is "very comfortable" with her position) will only push them further away from the neocon power base in the Senate. Do they really want two more independents?

2. Promoting a $500 billion tax cut for the wealthy and corporations in a ball-bearing plant in Ohio? Now, I get the Ohio part since he's out to punish Voinovich, but a plant where the workers are probably barely scraping by and most assuredly not getting the kind of pay and benefits they deserve? He actually thinks that the blue collar workers of this country believe him when he says this tax cut will help us? What planet are he and his advisors on? I'm waiting to hear how giving money back to the richest in this country will boost consumer spending. How does that work, exactly, Mr. President?

3. Does he really think that traveling the country selling the "War on Terrorism" as the cause of the recession is actually going to be bought? It boggles the mind that BushCo truly believe that this argument will wash. Is he going to explain how he asked Congress for $80 billion in starting costs for the War on Iraq (this is separate from the War on Terrorism), when his administration has already granted contracts to Bechtel and Halliburton in excess of $20 billion, he's already spent $30 billion just to keep the troops there, and the bills aren't even in from the contractors? Is he going to explain how despite the fact that jobs are being lost in the hundreds of thousands every month, he prefers to keep calling up Reservists and National Guard to fight his wars and occupy his colonies while their families at home have to go on food stamps?

4. Is anyone paying attention anyway? After all, it's WAR that sells on cable news. Boring old issues like the failing economy really don't draw the ratings numbers. I'm just waiting for the inevitable "what we need to kick start this economy is a really good WAR."

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      ( 9:57 AM )
Blind Leading the Blind

Reuters just released a report a few minutes ago that basically says that BushCo didn't plan well because they didn't expect such a huge surge of Shi'ite nationalism. I commented on this several days ago after watching the reports last Friday of the first free prayer day in Iraq in ages. What I can't understand is how this entire issue was not repeatedly addressed BEFORE BushCo launched its war. It seems like any strategic planner worth his weight in toilet paper would have advised the president that this could happen and that there should be contingencies for it. It seems illogical to assume that BushCo simply didn't think about it. They already had a semi-plan in place for the American Interim Government, aka Jay Garner, to take over. But they didn't really consider the fact that the long-oppressed majority Shi'ite population wouldn't have something to say? It's like this whole issue of how our soldiers protected the Oil Ministry building and now have already started the first oil wells pumping again, and yet, the greatest treasures of human history were allowed to be looted and stolen, there is barely electricity and running water in the cities for people, and there is nothing for anyone to do right now except mill around and wonder what happens next. But thank God, the oil is pumping. Is BushCo really this ignorant? Do they really think that they can continue misjudging every thing about Iraq and still maintain their foothold? Do they really think that the world's opinion doesn't matter?

The scary thing is, I don't think they do care. I think they are yahoos who have no sense of connectedness with the rest of the world, whose only goals are power and dominance and who don't even give a damn that they are putting our country at risk economically, security-wise and in world opinion. Do we really want these people leading our country? How can Bush have such high job ratings? What is going on? Someone please explain it to me because I just don't get it.

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      ( 9:01 AM )

BEST post to start your day with - from tom burka. You'll literally laugh yourself silly.

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      ( 8:44 AM )
Bad Business Plan of the Week

First, scare all your employees and customers that you're going to go bankrupt. Next, convince your employees who work the longest hours for the least pay and benefits to vote themselves even further pay reductions and losses of benefits. Once they vote to sacrifice their own wellbeing to SAVE THE COMPANY, let it leak that even though your workforce has sacrificed for you, you're still going into bankruptcy, BUT you allowed your top execs to get big fat bonuses (twice their annual salary) plus huge retirement packages and other increases in pay and benefits that won't be affected by the bankruptcy. Finally, let some of your employees have guns. At work. Way to do business, American Airlines.

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      ( 8:19 AM )
Proud Mama

The Kid walked this morning!! He's been walking around pretty confidently when holding someone's hand, and sometimes he takes 2-3 steps as he's lunging for something. But this morning, he actually looked at us from across the living room, started toward us, not holding on to anything, then squatted as if he had second thoughts and would crawl the rest of the way...then stopped, stood up again, got this determined look on his face and took a tentative step on purpose, then another one, then he slowly and deliberately walked all the way toward us, like ten steps! It was a triumph! And then, to top it off, he did it again right before I left for work.

As a working mama, I often worry that I will miss really important milestones in the Kid's life, and so it was totally cool to be home this morning and experience this really great accomplishment. Now I am back at work after taking a day and a half off to sleep, having succumbed to all the germs wafting about me at home and the Office. I feel better, refreshed and ready to end the week with lots and lots of rants about current events. Still, seeing a very cute 10 1/2 month old teeter totter his way across the living room was a great way to start the day and I'll have to dig deep to get to my usual surly feelings about the government today.

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Monday, April 21, 2003
      ( 4:15 PM )
Just Wondering:

1. Why is there so much press coverage of SARS, with its 160 deaths worldwide, and barely a word mentioned (none that I can actually find without indepth searches) on the Ebola pandemic that has claimed over 150 lives in one country (the Congo) alone?

2. How can FoxNews condemn CNN for their war coverage when Fox's own military analyst retired Maj. Gen Paul Vallely is the one who pioneered the concept "MindWar," which is the use of electronic media, television and radio in the "deliberate, aggressive convincing of all participants in a war that we will win that war" ? This MindWar Experiment brought you by FOX!!!

3. Why can Bush declare so emphatically that he is going to help the economy and lift consumer spending via his tax cut plan? Since when did cutting the taxes of the most wealthy and giving tax breaks to corporations and business help consumer spending? The people who actually spend money and put what they earn back into the economy are not the ones he's helping! How can America take him seriously anymore?

4. Where did all the Democrats in Congress go? Why did it take moderate Republican Senators to block the gigantic BushCo tax cut package, and hardly a concise argument against it was made in the press by any Democrat?

5. Why did CNN cut Crossfire, its only interesting (and actual debate) program, to 1/2 hour in order to air hours up on hours of Paula Zahn gushing endlessly about nothing?

6. Where is the breaking point for Americans to take all this crap we're being served? Haven't we reached it yet?

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      ( 2:22 PM )
The Passing of an Original

RIP, Nina Simone. The value of a voice that echoes independence, freedom and true cool is immeasurable. The Priestess of Soul will be missed.

Ain't No Use

Ain't no use baby
I'm leaving the scene
Ain't no use baby
You're too doggone mean

Yes I'm tired of paying dues
Having the blues
Hitting bad news
Ain't no use baby

Ain't no use baby
I'm leaving town
Ain't no use daddy
I'm putting you down

I'm gonna change my name
Things won't be the same
Cos I'm tired of playing your game
Ain't no use baby I tell you ain't no use

I tried all these years Lord knows I've tried
Yes and I cried deep down inside
But daddy why complain
It's all over and you're to blame yeah yeah

Ain't no use baby
Shed them tears
Ain't no use baby
I cried for years for too many years

You done had your fun

Ain't no use
Ain't no use
Ain't no use daddy
Ain't no use

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      ( 1:32 PM )
Patriotic Correctness

More on the topic of DISSENT IS UNPATRIOTIC... fantastic article at GNN today. It talks about the chill in the air that was commented on by Tim Robbins in his speech last week. It is the broader problem under symptoms like the story I mentioned last week. The "Patriotic Correctness" was coined by Bill Maher, one of the last bastions of free thought on the airwaves. But not really free, since you have to pay to have HBO in order to see him anymore (which means I don't get to). I think it's an apt description.

While many people think it's alarmist to make a big deal about dissent being stifled, I take the opposite view. If we don't make a big deal about it now, in less time than we realize, we won't be able to make a deal out of it at all. It's what's called a slippery slope. In the broader picture, corporate media started down that slope long ago (witness the Roger Ailes ascent). But in the narrow picture, it's kids getting bullied by other kids when they express dissent. It's not being able to say your dissenting opinion at work for fear of employment reprisal. It's not being able to wear a t-shirt that asks for Peace on Earth into a shopping mall.

It's Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft complaining that the Constitution is too lenient. It's the Republican Senate trying to make the PATRIOT Act permanent. If we don't pay attention, it could get very, very bad. You say: Mama, don't be such an alarmist! I say: friends, don't be so naive.

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      ( 12:52 PM )
Late Night with Jay... Garner

The corporate media is very hot on the topic of Jay Garner arriving in Iraq to take charge. Most bloggers have discussed this issue at length (and long before the news services decided to address it). I only have one basic thought on this subject.

What's the point?

From the looks of things, starting last Friday, the imams have things well under control already. Did BushCo seriously think that they were going to prance in there and set up some form of mini-U.S.? From the way they talk, it sounds like it. But already thousands of fundamentalists are forming coalitions and governing groups (not to mention neighborhood policing forces), both at the behest of clerics, and on their own. Already, thousands are demonstrating against the U.S. Not only are the fundamentalists organizing against the U.S. interim government, but the Kurds are as well. Did someone in BushCo forget to read their homework on Iran? I will not be surprised at all if there is an Islamic fundamentalist takeover and revolt. My question is, why couldn't BushCo see this coming, and why didn't they plan for it? Why didn't they plan for anything in a realistic way? Why are they in charge in the first place?...oh, I digress.

I heard on NPR's On the Media show last night, there was a story about the new tv "programming package" being set up by BushCo, and led by Norm Pattiz, chairman of Westwood One. Translated broadcasts of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather will be shown. Why in the hell would Iraqis want to watch news about us by us and completely ignorant of the rest of the world? This will be further fodder for them to believe that we're trying to take over, erase their culture and pound them out of existence. Oh, and CNN opted out of the package because they wanted to avoid "looking like they were working with the government." Uh, too late.

Them Iraqis are gonna LOVE us, whether they want to or not! So print that, Helen Thomas!

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      ( 12:34 PM )
Award for Worst Easter Homily

P and the Kid were sick all weekend, though the Kid wasn't too bad. So he and I went to my mom and dad's church with them for easter. Now, just as an update, my mom and dad are evangelicals. They are definitely NOT on the total fundie side of things, but they are definitely conservative. I grew up in this world and made some indpendent choices in my 20's and haven't been back since. I didn't mind going to church, it was nice on Easter Sunday. Though their church is like attending a tent revival, complete with rock and roll choruses instead of hymns, you get the picture. I did sort of miss the traditional, reverent view of Easter, but oh well - out with the old, in with the new, right? What sort of made me uncomfortable was this line in the preacher's sermon:

"Like our courageous soldiers in Iraq, Jesus wants to invade your heart. But unlike our soldiers, Jesus wants to be an occupying force - he wants to set up an occupation in your heart."

Needless to say, I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and started letting my mind wander. Can't you just picture Franklin Graham printing this phrase on the leaflets he hands out with his "humanitarian" aid in Iraq? Yikes.

Jesus loves me, this I know....

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      ( 9:46 AM )
Commenting on Comments

For some reason, Shout Out, which I use for my comments, decided to stop showing the amount of comments when they are made to posts...therefore making it appear that no comments have been made. Thus, I have been under the mistaken impression that no comments have been made on my blog the last week. And, of course, then feeling very depressed and neglected. BUT, I just discovered this oversight in my commenting situation - So thank you everybody for all your comments that I didn't even know were there - I've now read them all!

P.S. to Jack Bog regarding the graffiti: you know, you've got a point. While I'm not as opposed to graffiti as I probably should be as a concerned citizen, I do see what you mean about it. I don't see all that many white guys in their 20's around my neighborhood, so I'm not altogether sure they would be the culprits as you suggest, but you definitely have some good points about the issue!

Okay, I'm signing off this post now to go fool with my stupid template and see if I can shake these stupid comments straight. Barney, feel free to help me if you have the time!!!

UPDATE: I can't figure out at all how to make the number of comments show...so this will mean that I will be sure to check all the comments, even if it looks like there aren't any. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears!!

UPDATE 2: Since I can't figure out how to make my comments work, I've added a counter to my site. Of course, it only starts counting today, but oh well. Better late than never.

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Friday, April 18, 2003
      ( 4:28 PM )
You Say It's Your Birthday
Well, It's My Birthday Too

Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday. I'm proud to now be "well into" my 30's. I worked hard to get here. I feel like my 20's lasted at least 3 decades, and so I'm feeling pretty good to be in my 30's. This is my first birthday as a mama. But for my birthday present, my own mom has taken the Kid for the night so P and I can go to dinner and the movies (haven't been to the movies in over 6 months - we used to go every weekend B.K. (before Kid)), and so we can actually sleep in on Saturday (instead of the usual 5:45 wake up yell). I'm also proud that I've gotten a little over 1,000 hits on my blog in its early life, and that makes me happy. That's meager for some, but feels pretty great to a novice like myself. I hope that this Easter weekend is one of peace for people of all beliefs. Happy Birthday to Me!

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      ( 12:04 PM )
To Be or Not To Be
...A Democrat

Both Kos and Digby are lately discussing, in varying degrees, the Dems. Kos seems to feel that the Greens are still to blame for 2000, though he enjoys the debate of it. Digby feels the Democratic party doesn't really have anything wrong with it at its core – just its communication issues. I find myself thinking a lot on these issues lately. I, like Kos and Digby, really like Gen. Wesley Clark as a possible candidate. But I also really like Howard Dean. Dean has a major grassroots movement going, and I think that he and his supporters are the ones to watch in terms of pulling them onto the team that can beat Bush. While I'd love to see a Dean/Clark ticket, I'm not sure how realistic that is, and the mostly likely combo would be Kerry/Dean. For the first time ever, I am considering actually registering as a Dem so that I can vote in the primary for Dean.

I am one of the hated few-too-many who voted for Nader in 2000. I'm not a Green, I've always been independent. I still don't take the bait that we were the spoilers. Without any actual factual knowledge, I'd venture to guess that most of the Nader voters in 2000 weren't Greens, but rather disaffected and disappointed Dems --everyone I know who voted for Nader was not a Green. I also don't think that Nader voters were the "fringe." In fact, I think that they were more likely the heart of the Dem party, and most of that heart didn't vote in the first place. Gore's campaign stunk, and I will never agree that Nader was the cause of the problem. I don't believe we benefit from only a two-party system, and I think that we as a country would be much more responsive to the electoral process if there were more choices for us.

Money and corporate power has corrupted the Democratic party just as much as the GOP - the problem is not enough of it has come in to make the Dems competitive on a money or corporate level with the GOP. The DLC keeps trying to fake like they are the true Dems, but their only agenda is trying to raise that money/corporate support to compete with the GOP that way. They are false leaders of the Dems and I think most of the grassroots of the party can see that. McAuliffe is the worst ever leader of the party, in my view, because he refuses to make the right choices due to the pressure of the DLC. I can't understand why the party keeps him if they hope to beat Bush. I think Digby is right when he says that the Dems have the platform to win politically, it's just that they don't use the kind of mouthpiece system that the GOP does – and that’s where they are going to go down if they don’t fix it.

The Dems have the people numbers to beat the GOP's money, but whether those numbers will actually show up on election day, I think, will have to do with whether the Dems can get more savvy at peddling their message. There is absolute silence right now from the Dems on any issue that is worth challenging - from international policies to the budget. Why is this? Where are they? The status quo is the most powerful force in Washington, and I fear too many Dems have succumbed. I am going to vote Dem in 2004, we’re all going to have to do so to end BushCo’s reign. The problem is, that to sustain true change and leadership, it's going to need to be a Democratic candidate that truly inspires if we’re going to pull it out for the long term, and I'm not yet convinced the Dems are willing to put out the effort.

Dems can complain all they want about the "fringe" drawing away their power and getting the headlines and making them look bad. But is the fringe the "fringe" only because they are doing anything they can to get their message across since the party is so unwilling to voice ANY opinion on anything? If the party started acting like a proper opposition party, then I'm willing to bet that a large contingent of that "fringe" would disappear into the rank and file and the Democratic voter base would surge.

It’s just like the whole protest “debate.” People who insist they are protesters but can’t stand people who take direct action in the streets are like Dems who insist they are willing to do what has to be done to win, but just complain about the people who are actually trying to get some attention for the issues.

I’m going to vote Dem in 2004 - whether it will be out of desperation or inspiration, only time will tell.

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      ( 10:48 AM )
Round the Blogosphere

I added a few new blogs to my list this week. I recently started reading them and am really enjoying the added insights I'm getting from them. I wanted to share the wealth:

High Water

the watch

Harsh but True

Project for a New Century of Freedom

Pax Liberalis

I'm also going to add a few links the news section and do that a bit differently. I'm also going to try and alphabetize. (Oh the great intentions.) The whole war thing started when I started my blog and so I haven't really explored my other areas of interest much, which I hope to do in the future. But in the meantime, I'm going to set up my links bar with a few of those odds and ends as well, I think. Anyway, just some housekeeping for the general well being of us all. Can't be a mama without some housekeeping now and then.

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Thursday, April 17, 2003
      ( 5:01 PM )
Neighborhood Commentary

I live in, shall we say, the part of town most suburbanites would never venture into. That part of town reserved for the target of our city's racist and fear-mongering editorials. I actually think it's lovely and I absolutely love my neighbors, community, and I am hopeful that gentrification won't ruin it. I took a non-scientific survey on my evening walk with the Kid last night of war graffiti - or rather anti-war graffiti, since there wasn' t any pro-war graffiti anywhere.

Now, in my limited experience, neighborhoods like mine don't often have graffiti that comments on international politics, but interestingly, it's everywhere here. I think the graffiti itself is telling - while "70% of Americans" appear by all accounts to support BushCo's policies...that 70% neither lives in my neighborhood and probably (I'm just guessing here) lives in a little higher of an income bracket than most of my neighborhood. Here's what the working class has to say:

In the windows of 36 houses that I passed, paper signs that say "No War" Three of those houses also had in their windows the traditional WWII symbol of a family member at war or MIA.

On about 18 mailboxes (the big, blue kind) that I passed only on my walk (I've seen many more on my busride into downtown): "Rich Man's War"

Pasted on a storefront wall: "These Colors Don't Run..the World"

On a painted ad on a bus stop bench for a Balloon Delivery Service...the Ad says "Deliver a Surprise!" and the Graffiti reads "...Attack"

Spray Painted on 2 dumpsters (4 blocks apart): "Bush Kills - God Loves"

And on a mural of dancing stick figure sillouettes, the words spray painted in between each figure "Collateral Damage"

Yep, BushCo is winning hearts and minds. All over town.

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      ( 1:06 PM )
State-Sponsored Terrorism -
But It's Not Who You Think

Well, it's official today. The Stevens Inquiry Report was released in the UK and its conclusion is that the British Army and the RUC (The militarized police force in northern Ireland) colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in in the north of Ireland to kill civilians, mainly Catholics. Specifically, the murder of Soliciter Pat Finucane, a well known Catholic civil rights attorney, in 1989 and a Protestant student, Adam Lambert in 1987 were the subject of the inquiry. It has long been known by the general public that the British MOD colluded in the murder of Finucane (gunmen broke into the family home and shot him dead in front of his family, hitting his wife as well). There have been three separate investigations by Stevens and this one finally established proof for the collusion. This is the first ever official report released that proves collusion, despite the fact that independent and human rights ngo investigations have shown it to be true for decades.

There has never been any doubt in the minds of the Nationalist/Republican minority in the north that the British government was not only sanctioning the actions of the RUC and the protestant/loyalist paramilitaries, but that many of the actions taken against that minority community were directed by the British government. To argue that the northern six counties of Ireland are not an occupied territory rings empty after so many years. Even with this current war in Iraq, the British MOD was bragging that because it used the north of Ireland as a training ground, its troops were especially adept at "urban warfare." If you are unaware of the conditions caused by the British occupation of the north of Ireland, I urge you to take a look at just a few of the websites by minority neighborhoods in their efforts to gain not only equality and rights, but freedom from the constant fear of reprisal from the police forces and paramilitaries. Here, here, and here.

I find it particularly telling that, as I mentioned last week, the leader of the British forces in Iraq was part of the command structure in Derry on Bloody Sunday. The fact that a separate, currently ongoing inquiry into Bloody Sunday is also uncovering the fact that the British troops were not shot at first before they opened fire on the public, and were in fact not in any particular danger from the peace march that was going on that day, makes me not a little concerned for the Iraqi civilians in Basra. It was after that day in January 1971 that the massive volunteering for the Irish Republican Army began.

I don't think that the US or British forces will have learned much from the Troubles in the north of Ireland - and as they occupy Iraq, I wonder if the same mistakes will be made. I can already see them starting: using the old police force to police the communities, colluding with non-legitimate militias to "keep the peace," flaunting the American flag as they patrol the devastated communities they have taken over. I hope they are aware that while the Iraqi people may be grateful for freedom from the Saddam Hussein regime, they are not necessarily willing to be oppressed by a new regime so quickly.

I have a lot more to say on this subject, having lived and worked in the north of Ireland and having adored personally and worked professionally for Rosemary Nelson, another Catholic solicitor murdered because of collusion between the RUC, British MOD and the loyalists. It is not something easily contained in a few words of a blog post. I find that while people can be so quick to label someone "terrorist," they never truly take the time to explore what might have caused that someone to get to the place where they could be called that. It is never black and white.

Our government would like to make us believe that it is, that it's "us or them," that it's "good v. evil." But it's not. It never will be. Unless and until humanity is allowed to equally participate in its own destiny, there will always be "Troubles." And while our own government seems to feel it's okay to continue to keep that equality from ever happening, we don't have to go along with it. We shouldn't. Our loyalties (as the loyalties of Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson were) should be with humanity, not its destroyers.

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      ( 8:31 AM )
Thursday List of Things that are Bothering Me:

1. Why did the Oregonian have a headline in yesterday's paper about how protests have cost the police $1million in overtime pay, but in the paper on Tuesday, only one line buried in a story mentioned that unfunded mandates from Homeland Security have cost the police $2million?

2. Why are teachers willing to work without pay in order to give students the education they deserve despite the state not funding schools, but politicians always get pay raises and secure contracts with lobbying groups before they leave office?

3. If the Bush administration claims that it is not conducting a war on Islam, why is Franklyn Graham leading prayer at the Pentagon whilst his organization publicly prostletizes Muslims in Iraq before giving them humanitarian aid?

4. How can Dick Cheney claim that Iraq's oil will be the key to the Iraqi people's democracy and freedom when there is only ONE (Norway) oil producing country that is a democracy in the world? Having oil has NEVER given people democracy.

5. How did our country morph into a seemingly majority of fundies and fascists? Were those tendancies always there, only breaking through to the light of day occasionally in fits and bursts, like Prohibition, McCarthyism, J. Edgar Hoover... and it's just that recently this minority has been given validation by the leadership and so it just SEEMS like the majority? Or are we totally screwed?

6. How can right thinking men believe that the PATRIOT Act is the best thing for this country?

7. Why does the First Lady do commercials on tv demanding that we make sure our children can read, and yet she stands by silently while her husband takes all the money away from the neediest school districts?

8. How come David Bloom died but Geraldo Rivera is so healthy?

9. Why can't people see the hypocrisy in our demand that Syria and Iran have no WMD, and yet when they propose to agree to a treaty that bans ALL WMDs from the middle east, we back down because Israel is allowed to have them - but none of their neighbors are?

10. Why is the Bush administration so obsessed with Israel?

11. Why are there tons of websites where people spew hatred at dissenters, but there isn't a website where people can go and log the abuse/discrimination/censorsing they have received for voicing dissent?

12. How can we keep up this campaign of terror on the world and maintain our own country's health at the same time? I don't think it can be done. I think the U.S. will get sicker and sicker until it can't sustain the imperialistic goals of its leaders any longer.

13. How did I so easily transition from cyncism and challenging to fatalism and resignation?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2003
      ( 3:38 PM )
And Taking a Break from Real Life...

Tin Man has his review up from last night's Buffy. This is a great one, as they all are. For us Buffy fans, these last few episodes are our last clinging to a television show really worth watching, especially when the other choices are war, stupid reality shows, war and "Cops." I had the same questions last night that Tin Man has at the end of his review...where WAS Anya? And what's up with Xander getting hurt like that??? My prediction: Willow will be the spin off show. (that's my bet and I'm stickin' to it) Anyway, a tip of the hat to Tin Man for another great review!

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      ( 1:48 PM )
Today I love TIM ROBBINS

Actually, I have always loved Tim Robbins, but this week has again reminded me how much it sucks that people like him actually don't get to lead the country. His speech to the National Press Club is here - a must read. Thanks for the link, maru. And then check out mwowwww for the Rush Limbaugh follow up to Tim Robbins' speech.. or should I say the pathetic whimpering of a man who is fast losing his fan base to more reactionary talk jocks like Hannity.

Tim Robbins' fantastic words this week, both to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and in this speech yesterday have reminded me of that time Martin Sheen was asked after one of his arrests at an SOA protest if he thinks he may have lost acting parts or jobs because of his politics and activism. His reply: "God, I hope so."

Ah, real men. Men in the public eye who actually want to make the world better ....not aggressively attack it and dominate it out of some sad need to compensate for their own personal inadequacies. But I digress.

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      ( 11:44 AM )

We can all rest easy, the TERROR ALERT has been lowered from Orange to YELLOW. Thank God, only a slight amber glow now resonates and we can all live in much LOWERED perpetual states of propaganda about the anxiety we are required to feel with regard to the imminent danger we are always in... or something like that. Is GW wearing a yellow tie today to celebrate? Go YELLOW! Do I hear Green? Green anyone?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2003
      ( 1:52 PM )
Return to Gangland

UPDATE: Here is the link to the editorial.

An editorial in today's Oregonian addresses a very important...rumor. Unfortunately, it's not online to link to, but perhaps they'll have it up tomorrow. In any event, the editorial board really shines today with this one. It starts out:

Portland is bracing for a bad summer.
Even as the nation is focused on war in Iraq,
and Oregonians are faced with multiple financial
crises, the word on the street is that
we're headed for a resurgence of drug, feud and
other gang-related gun violence

I love that "word on the street" - I guess the Oregonian Editorial Board has got its feet in the mix, hearin' from its homies, feeling the breezes blowin' from the 'hood. They are really tapped right in to the pulse of Portland's gang neighborhoods. One of which I live in. I'm so happy to read this editorial because it's always a good feeling to know that all over the county the ever-vigilant middle-upper class white majority will be re-invigorating their subtle and unadmitted racism and kid-phobic attitudes. Get those racist and anti-teen comments ready to go, folks!

The editorial continues to relate news "from the street" that because old gang leaders are being released from prison and a new generation of kids in gangs is emerging, the cops, the mayor and the district attorneys all forecast a Summer of Blood. As a "person" (quoted in this editorial) at an anti-gang forum in my neighborhood's precinct last week put it: "It's starting all over." The esteemed "person" could not be reached for further expertise and comment, I guess.

Wait, there is a reason the cops can't sufficiently deal with the gang issue!!

But the police officers also get switched
out of the gang detail, when other priorities
emerge such as street protests. So the
reality is that gang enforcement takes a back
seat, and some of the needed follow-up to
shootings doesn't get done.

OH! So it's the anti-war protests that are causing the cops to insufficiently deal with gang issues! Finally, a real reason to just spray those anti-American, unpatriotic, protesting bastards with live fire and get it over with! Because I can certainly see how 3 city protests can be reason for all the cops assigned to gangs not to be able to follow-up on shootings. My god, is there no end to the propaganda?

The Editorial Board continues:

Cooperation with probation officers is
also crucial... the probation officers work
closely with gang-outreach workers, who
are also critical to prevention. Under
the proposed Bush budget plan, however,
federal financing for this work would be
eliminated as of October
. That would
be a serious blow to Multnomah County.

A kernal of actual news to go along with this disaster-forecast. But there is no further exploration into the fact that the Bush administration plans to cut this funding, along with Early Head Start funding. THIS is what editorials should be written about, and on a daily basis. Once again, heralding disaster and destruction, the media - mimicking the Administration - uses fear to promote its agenda and to divert attention from the TRUE problems we are facing. Now everyone can be scared to death of gun-wielding gangster teenagers prowling the streets of Portland, waiting to shoot any innocent bystander they come across, instead of being concerned that low-income children are going to lose their chance at a good start to their lives, that community services for people who need it most, that probation officers who are often the last gatekeeper between a return to prison and a fresh start to life are all on the President's target list for extermination.

This editorial ends with the upbeat message that Portland has dealt successfully with gangs in the past and it can do it again...so go, Portland! What the hell was this editorial about?

It was about fear. It was about distraction.

While the national and local media runs around like chickens picking up the crumbs this Administration tosses them and bleating like lost lambs (forgive the mixed metaphors) about all the international hubub going on - nationally and locally we are all suffering and we are all about to suffer even more if Bush gets his budget passed.

We're "spreading democracy" on the other side of the world...and our own society is crumbling because of our government. The editorial doesn't even mention the well-documented fact that when the economy goes bust, crime rises. People get desperate. When the financial crisis in our state is such that one of the first things closed down are methodone clinics, then people are going to be trying to find relief for their heroin addictions elsewhere. The Oregonian Editorial Board doesn't seem to find it necessary to point out that with Portland schools losing almost 3 weeks of school, that's 3 weeks that some children won't get breakfast or lunch. Raising neighborhoods with hungry, desperate kids really promotes not getting into gangs. This editorial is subterfuge and fear-mongering. It follows the pattern that is currently present in almost ALL media outlets, locally and nationally. When are we going to put our foot down as citizens? I, for one, am writing to the Oregonian today. But on the power level...

Are there ANY democratic political leaders out there willing to stand up for the people they represent and try to put an end to this pattern of neglect of the neediest of Americans? Is there no one willing to actually say publicly what is going on? Is there no one who will speak out against what this Administration is doing? Anyone?

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      ( 10:23 AM )
What Are They Up to Now?

Daily Hypocrisy In The News: Reuters reports this morning that all the oil well fires are out. There were 9 (and the biggest one was an accident, not set on purpose). Meanwhile, Haliburton (aka "Villagers Supply the Joy!") has an open-ended contract for up to $8 Billion to fight and clean up oil well fires. They've only collected $50 million so far. Not even getting a direct offer from the Army with no other bidders was enough to get Cheney's pals the BIG payoff. Whatever shall they do now? Hey...what's Dick Cheney doing with that match?! Hey!!

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Monday, April 14, 2003
      ( 4:12 PM )
So Many Peace Activists, So Few Israeli Bullets

I haven't seen any mention of this elsewhere, but on Friday, Israeli troops managed to shoot yet another peace activist, Tom Hurndall of England. And not just shoot him, shoot him in the head so that he is now brain dead. He was trying to help children get out of the road to escape Israeli gunfire. The IDF reported it had shot a "Palestinian Gunman," but no such "gunman" was reported shot later on, and Hurndall turned out to be the only casualty.

This follows the shooting of Brian Avery of New Mexico, who was shot in Jenin last week - shot in the face by a tank, and if he recovers will likely never speak again.

...which followed the crushing to death of Rachel Corrie, who was blatantly run over by an IDF tank.

Not that anyone's paying attention...

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      ( 2:11 PM )
Reality Check

Overheard in the Firm's lunchroom just now (really):

Mailroom Clerk 1: Did you hear that news about how the company Dick Cheney used to head got this big contract in Iraq for millions of dollars and no one else was allowed to bid for it?

Mailroom Clerk 2: Wow. That's wild.

Mailroom Clerk 1: Yeah, they didn't even have to compete, and it's for millions of dollars. What a scam.

Mailroom Clerk 2: Are they hiring?

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      ( 1:26 PM )
Culture of Fear

Read Daily Kos today, and take in the Comments as well. It's great to read some sane voices in the wilderness once in a while. I have some more thoughts on this subject, but they are still in formation.

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      ( 11:56 AM )
Oh How Lovely Is Thine Hypocrisy

It's so nice to start the week off with a few more reasons to wonder how in the hell did these people get to rule the world???

While BushCo thinks it would only be fair to eliminate Iraq's debt (in order to make it easier for US contractors to get in there and start making money off the backs of the Iraqis), the Administration still hasn't changed its position and continues to oppose debt forgiveness for Argentina, Bolivia and all the other Latin and South American countries that are falling to pieces under the weight of the IMF and World Bank.

So, we didn't find any WMD on the march through Iraq - who cares? It was only a pretense for war. Speaking of pretenses, the WMDs must have been moved to Syria. I know! We'll find them ourselves. So far the only WMDs in the region are in Israel. But who's counting?

"Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things," so sayeth Donald Rumsfeld on allowing looters to ransack the country while U.S. forces look on. But Freedom is Pricey in our own country, where the PATRIOT Act may be made permanent if we don't watch out.

We are told by our government that we have the moral high ground in the world - and yet, countries that we have allied ourselves with, but are of more danger than any of the countries we're currently threatening, are publicly voicing their displeasure at our heavy-handedness. Does BushCo even sense the danger that lurks behind these words?

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      ( 9:44 AM )
Local Commentary

"When will President Bush unveil his plan for rebuilding the United States?" --J. Patton

"According to the latest polls, it is now evident that more than two-thirds of Americans find naked aggression far more gratifying than suitable international diplomacy." --R. Betts

--taken from The Oregonian Sunday Commentary Section

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      ( 9:33 AM )
Monday, Monday...

Good morning, world. It's Monday morning...and for some reason my archives have disappeared. So now I will be off onto the template journey to figure it out. Another weekend of fixing, painting, cleaning, unpacking. Moving into a new place with a 10-month old is 1500x more laborious than without. But I'm not ready to return him yet. I still love the weekend just because I get to spend uninterrupted time with the Kid - while I'd also like to be getting the new place in order, I crave the time with him since I only get to see him a little more than an hour every day during the week. He discovered grass and flowers this weekend (the sun actually came out in Portland) - it was nice to just watch him squatting down to gingerly touch the flowers and grass - and I wondered what it would be like to discover something like that for the first time. It's too bad we can't recall the wonders of childhood discoveries. It make us all a little less cynical - and carry a little more human kindness around with us.

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Friday, April 11, 2003
      ( 4:18 PM )
If You Don't Support the Pres, You Deserve a Whoopin'

I'd like to share one more thing before the week ends. This piece was written by Oregonian columnist Steve Duin, who is writing some really good stuff lately. Anyway, it's about this kid, Zeb Larson, who, like me, comes from a long line of military service in his family. Yet, for many well-read and well-thought out reasons, he did not support this war (like me). But, unlike me, Zeb is 14. He quietly shared his opinions with friends, but not publicly, not wanting to incite a "free for all" fight about it. But...

On April 1, Larson was talking to a
friend in the library when he was
"cornered," as he put it, by three
supporters of the war. They advised
him it was duty as an American to
support the war against a communist
like Saddam Hussein.

"I didn't argue with them," Larson said.
"I did point out that Saddam isn't a
communist, he's a socialist, but that's
as argumentative as I got."

Then the next day he was cornered again...and one of the bullies tried to strangle him.

"This whole country is paralyzed right now,"
Julie [his mum] said, "unable to talk in any
kind of civilized or objective way. Because
anyone who questions or doubts our purpose
in Iraq is branded, so many people are afraid to
say anything. The silence that surrounds
everyone right now is cancerous."

Could this be why polls show 70% of Americans supporting Bush right now?

When people are afraid to express dissent, then the government has become oppressive to the point of intimidation. That is not a democracy. But that is our country right now.

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      ( 3:44 PM )
Rob the Poor to Pay the Rich?

It's tax time, and though the media isn't paying as much attention to that fact as it usually does since it's preoccupied with Iraq, I thought I'd mention what's probably a little known fact about the IRS. They audit 80% of people who claim the child income tax credit.

I know this because for the first time, we claimed the child income tax credit due to the fact that we were mostly unemployed last year and had to depend on the (wonderful) state healthcare plan provided by Oregon in order to even HAVE our baby, much less give him prenatal and pediatric care. So with my infrequent temp work and P's working two retail jobs with horrible hours and very little pay (despite the fact that he is highly-skilled in two professions, computer repair and cabinetmaking - there are no jobs here in Oregon), we made less than $13,000 last year. We survived only because we had help from my brother and we used up our entire savings, which included of money P inherited when his wonderful mum died a year and a half ago, and which we were hoping to save for the Kid's eduction, or at least for emergencies. So suffice it to say, we were looking forward to a little bit of money back this spring in the form of a tax refund. We also claimed the child tax credit because we qualified and because we needed it.

We filed early, and promptly received a notice from the IRS that because we'd claimed the child tax credit, we would be audited. We then found out that 80% of people who claim the child tax credit are audited. Damn if the IRS doesn't have anything better to do than audit poor people who just need a little help caring for their children. And heaven knows it's cheaper to run audits of poor people than to actually audit, say, cheating corporations who suck the life out of all their employees and then steal their retirement in the end anyway.

So there you go. Poor people's tax dollars paying for other poor people to be audited and corporations getting away tax free again. And I'm so sad for those rich people who are complaining that their tax cut was too small. Boo Hoo. Let me go cry a river for the poor, forgotten upper middle class and upper class while I go to the thrift shop to try and trade the Kid's too-small clothes for some used ones that will fit him.

Okay, Friday rant is done. But still, you see my point, right?

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      ( 12:05 PM )
Despite the Fact You're Barely Making Enough To Survive, Bush Wants to Take Away Your Overtime Pay

From working for change activism, this news appears today:

The Bush administration has proposed changing federal overtime rules and eroding the 40-hour workweek—reducing overtime protections and cutting the pay of hundreds of thousands of America's workers.

With a failing economy, millions out of work and staggering health care and prescription drug costs, this is a burden America's workers should NOT have to bear. The overtime rules protect workers from bosses who would impose unbearably long hours if they didn't have to pay extra for overtime work. Many workers would have less predictable work schedules because of the increased demand for overtime work.

Working families struggled for years to win the 40-hour workweek, the weekend and other job protections like this.

The Bush overtime reform proposal:

- Excludes previously protected workers by reclassifying them as managers, administrative or professional employees who are not eligible for overtime pay;
- Fails to automatically include large numbers of low-income workers;
- For the first time, excludes certain middle-income workers from overtime protections by adding an income test;
- Removes from overtime protection large numbers of workers in the aerospace, defense, health care, high tech and various other industries;
- Makes schedules less predictable for some working moms and dads;
- Proposes confusing standards for low-income supervisors.

Now that's what I call a plan to HELP the economy.

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      ( 9:52 AM )
This Week's DumbAss Congressman Award Goes To...

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Georgia). He is calling for the Bush administration to terminate an 881 million dollar contract signed 2 years ago for an eight-year period with French company, Sodexho Alliance, making them the supplier of food to the Marine Corps.

Sodexho spokesperson, Leslie Aun, warns that the termination of this contract will not only bring about severe financial consequences for the United States but will also take away thousands of jobs for American workers.

The White House is secretly trying to get the point across that it doesn't support this kind of action...and we don't have to wonder why: Interestingly, Sodexho is the 57th largest employer in America, and $300 million of the Sodexho contract amount is directed to subcontractors owned by women, minorities and companies that hire disabled workers. Not only that, but if we actually did take this "boycott French stuff" seriously - the damage that can be seriously done to us by other countries boycotting US companies is immeasurable. You wanted globalization - well, if we boycott them, then we could lose OUR jobs. How do you like them apples, Rep. Kingston?

Ellen Goodman sums up the situation much better than I.

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      ( 9:21 AM )
An Awards Show We Can All Appreciate

Gone unnoticed for the most part this week, Privacy International held it's 5th Annual Big Brother Awards - given to the worst abusers of privacy. Check out all the winners....On the short list:

MOST INVASIVE PROPOSAL: Total Information Awareness - The office is headed by Admiral (retired) John Poindexter who is responsible for conceiving the project. The project calls for the development of "revolutionary technology for ultra-large all-source information repositories," which would contain information from multiple sources to create a "virtual, centralized, grand database."

GREATEST CORPORATE INVADER - Delta Airlines--Delta is the "partner" of the Transportation Security Administration in administration of a CAPPS II pilot in three cities in the U.S. CAPPS II is the Enhanced Computer Assisted Passenger Profiling System, a program designed to draw from over 100 sources to evaluate whether a passenger is "rooted in the community," and therefore not a flight risk.

WORST PUBLIC OFFICIAL - Viet Dinh--Viet Dinh is Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy. Dinh was the architect of the PATRIOT Act and of the Attorney General's Guidelines, which now allow the FBI to engage in searches and monitoring of chat rooms, bulletin boards, and websites without evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Additionally, agents are permitted to visit public places and events to monitor individuals' activities with no predicate of criminal suspicion. These powers are not limited to terrorism investigations.

THE ADMIRAL JOHN M. POINDEXTER LIFETIME MENACE AWARD - Osama Bin Laden--For giving Attorney General Ashcroft the excuse he needed to pass the USA PATRIOT Act and the Homeland Security Act, and the gall necessary to formulate PATRIOT II, new draft legislation designed to push police power even further.

And on the other side of things, the Brandeis awards (named after Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who said privacy was "the right to be left alone"), my favorite was

Joyce Meskis--Joyce Meskis is the owner of the Denver-based Tattered Cover bookstore. She led an important battle for book buyer privacy. In Tattered Cover v. City of Thornton, she successfully challenged a law enforcement request for book purchaser records. The decision, which recognizes an individual right to anonymity in book purchasing, also requires that a hearing be held before customer records can be released.

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      ( 9:07 AM )
Meanwhile, back on the Other Side of the World...

While I'm altogether sure that there aren't more than 2 people, if that, in the administration left who are paying attention to any other part of the world - I'm wondering if they've seen and are considering this news I just saw on the BBC this morning. North Korea seems to be prepping for conflict...understandibly so, since they are next on the list. While it's more probable we'll start invading other middle eastern countries first, N. Korea isn't going to be caught unawares. Unless they start something first. And why not? If we can start wars for no reason and invade countries out of our own interests, then why shouldn't any other country in the world do the same? Was this question even asked when BushCo came up with its pretty little "preemptive policy plan?"

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      ( 8:54 AM )
Today's Rare Find: Journalists with Spines

From Democracy Now:
Spanish Journalists protested the death
of a Spanish TV cameraman killed by a U.S.
tank shell in Baghdad yesterday by putting
their cameras, microphones and notebooks
on the floor as Prime Minister Jose Maria
Aznar arrived at the Senate.

Aznar found the floor outside the chamber
covered with equipment and 30 to 40
journalists standing in stony silence.

In a further display of anger, about 20
Spanish journalists walked out of a
news conference with British Foreign
Minister Jack Straw and his Spanish
counterpart, Ana Palacio, after just
one question.

---Maria Carrion, filmmaker and
former Democracy Now! producer.

On the show Carrion said that the journalists are demanding an inquiry into the U.S. explanation of what happened at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. Some of the journalists who put their cameras and notebooks down when the Prime Minister came into the press conference also turned their backs on him and held up pictures of the murdered Spanish cameraman. Can you imagine what might happen if American journalists had guts like that - to actually be gatekeepers for the truth? To demand inquiries, to actually insist that the government do what it's supposed to? I can only say hats off to the Spanish journalists and that I only wish we even HAD journalists here who were willing to seek out truth instead of have falsities and propaganda spoon fed to them.

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      ( 8:46 AM )
A Mama Celebrates A Birthday

Happy Birthday today to Ethel Kennedy, who turns 75. Three quarters of a century, raising 11 kids, one of them born after her husband was brutally murdered in front of her 35 years ago this June. Ethel may be many things, and many things may be said about her family and her children...but when it all comes down to it, she is a Mama and she has done her job well. Kudos to you, Ethel.

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Thursday, April 10, 2003
      ( 11:31 AM )
You've GOT to be Kidding Me.

Thanks to maru for this one:

The baseball Hall of Fame has canceled a
15th anniversary celebration of the film "Bull
Durham," and the shrine's president said it was
because of anti-war criticism by co-stars Tim
Robbins and Susan Sarandon


Petroskey, a former White House assistant
press secretary under Ronald Reagan, said
recent comments by the actors "ultimately
could put our troops in even more danger


Reached Wednesday night, Robbins said
he was "dismayed" by the decision. He
responded with a letter he planned to send
to Petroskey, telling him: "You belong with
the cowards and ideologues in a hall of
infamy and shame."

Robbins tells Petroskey off even more... one of my favorite lines being "I didn't realize baseball was a Republican sport." You go, Tim.

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      ( 10:57 AM )
It's Come to This: Congress MIGHT Debate Whether to Keep Civil Rights (but they haven't decided)

Forwarded by the NCPPF (National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom) - an article in NY Times (I think you might have to register to read it) by Eric Lichtblau yesterday disclosed that Republican senators (specifically Hatch) want to make the PATRIOT Act permanent - forever:

Working with the Bush administration, Congressional Republicans are maneuvering to make permanent the sweeping
antiterrorism powers granted to federal law enforcement agents after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, officials said today.

The move is likely to touch off strong objections from many Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress who believe that the Patriot Act, as the legislation that grew out of the attacks is known, has already given the government too much power to spy on Americans.

But Republicans in the Senate in recent days have discussed a proposal, written by Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, that would repeal the sunset provisions and make the law's new powers permanent, officials said. Republicans may seek to move on the proposal this week by trying to attaching it to another antiterrorism bill that would make it easier for the government to use secret surveillance warrants against "lone wolf" terrorism suspects.

Many Democrats have grown increasingly frustrated by what they see as a lack of information from the Justice Department on how its agents are using their newfound powers, and they say they need more time to determine whether agents are abusing those powers.

The Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, said today that without extensive review, he "would be very strongly opposed to any repeal" of the 2005 time limit. He predicted that Republicans lacked the votes to repeal the limits.

Indeed, Congressional officials and political observers said the debate might force lawmakers to take stock of how far they were willing to sacrifice civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism.


With the act's provisions not set to expire for more than two and a half years, officials expected that the debate over its future would be many months away. But political jockeying over separate bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, and Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, appears to have given Senator Hatch the chance to move on the issue much earlier than expected.

The Kyl-Schumer measure would eliminate the need for federal agents seeking secret surveillance warrants to show that a suspect is affiliated with a foreign power or agent, like a terrorist group.

The proposal was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Republicans are upset because several Democrats say that when the measure reaches the Senate floor for a full vote, perhaps this week or later in the month, they plan to offer amendments that would impose tougher restrictions on the use of secret warrants.


But an aide [to Hatch] who demanded anonymity said of the "lone wolf" bill: "We support this bill as it is and that's how we want to see it passed. If the Democrats want to amend the bill, then we will offer an equal number of amendments to improve the bill as well. We hope the Democrats will stop holding this bill up."

Members of the Judiciary Committee, which Mr. Hatch leads, have been working in recent days to reach an agreement over the amendments that will be considered, officials said. But so far neither side appears willing to back down.

This is a very serious issue. I don't know how many Americans realize the kinds of powers the Justice Department already has, but they are incredibly vast. I don't feel very confident in the Democratic leadership right now (well, never have, actually), but they have shown some moxie over the whole Estrada nomination, so I'll give them that. There needs to be some massive change right now in getting the messages out to the people - there needs to be some hard-hitting way to say it loud and say it often what this administration is trying to get away with. The Dems can't be afraid of the corporate media, the senators need to start speaking publicly, giving interviews, saying what's what. McAuliffe is a puppet of the corporations himself, as are most Dems in power anyway - and so if they truly have any convictions, now is the time they need to make them public. There probably aren't many times in a government's history when you really do need to actually decide if you're going to fish or just cut bait. I think this could be one of them.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this could be a Constitutional crisis...that is if any one is even made aware of what is happening. People have to stop thinking things like "well, I never did anything wrong, so it doesn't bother me." We have to start thinking about the fact that the collective good is really being threatened here, and that if even one person in this country is oppressed, mistreated, harmed, etc...then that means all of us are, and any of us could be next. This has already happened, to American citizens, and is happening now. Are we truly willing to put up with this and accept it based on a false sense of "security?" The Justice Department is NOT looking out for our good, it's looking to have power. Just like the rest of this administration.

What kind of world are we willing to let our children grow up into? The kind where they could be arrested and held secretly for no reason? The kind where their teachers might be wire tapped or spied on? The kind where they can't get a job unless they are a certain race or can claim a certain background? The kind of world where they can't travel to other countries for fear of retribution, or simply because they won't be let back in? The kind of world where they can't speak their minds without fear of being reported to the "authorities?" This is not an exaggeration. This is the road we are already on. I want to get off. I'm writing my congressman and senators today about this - and so should you. It's time to start paying attention. I hope enough people will.

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