Darwin on Today’s Economy

 Deep Thoughts  Comments Off on Darwin on Today’s Economy
Apr 102008
This entry is part of 4 in the series Deep Thoughts

Reuters has a report from The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Economic Policy Institute showing that, “Since the late 1990’s average incomes have declined 2.5 percent for families on the bottom fifth of the country’s economic ladder, while incomes have increased 9.1 percent for families on the top fifth.” The report goes on to say that middle class hasn’t fared very well either, as income for the middle class has grown only 1.3 percent in nearly eight years.

“The report’s bottom line is that since the late 1980’s income gaps widened in 37 states and have not narrowed in any states,” said Jared Bernstein, one of the report’s authors. “In fact, we’ve found that the trend toward growing inequality has accelerated during this decade.” Continue reading »

The Real Importance of Telecom Immunity to the Cheney Administration

 Congress, Constitution, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society, The Courts  Comments Off on The Real Importance of Telecom Immunity to the Cheney Administration
Mar 142008

Well, the House seems to be sticking to their guns, and not passing a FISA bill that will grant immunity to the telecom industry for illegal spying. This is critically important, because it’s the last best hope to have the illegal surveillance activities of the current Cheney Administration see the light of day.

During a press conference on February 28, George Bush finally went rogue on Dick, and accidentally told the truth about the reason for telecom immunity.

Allowing the lawsuits to proceed could aid our enemies, because the litigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about how we conduct surveillance.

The part about aiding our enemies is the usual administration fear mongering BS, but the rest reveals a truth that Dick probably didn’t want exposed.

The truth is that Federal Courts receive and rule on secret and classified information on a fairly regular basis, and those secrets seem better kept than most of the Administration’s secrets (when it suits them to harm someone they don’t like…see Valery Plame). The FISA law provided for those procedures a long time ago, and they have worked just fine. When FISA was originally passed by Congress, they knew that preventing courts from ever having access to anything deemed “secret” would allow government officials to break any laws their little hearts desired, and then just declare it related to national security.

The real reason the Cheney Administration doesn’t want a court to ever hear a telecom spying case is because those lawsuits are the absolute last hope for ever learning what the administration did when they spied on Americans for years in violation of the law. Dismissing the cases based on a grant of amnesty would ensure that their spying activities stay concealed, buried forever, and just as important, that no court ever rules on the legality of what they did.

It amazes me how this aspect of telecom amnesty is never discussed, and how little interest it generates among journalists — whose role, theoretically, is to uncover secret government actions?

Continue reading »

Jul 292007

In his weekly radio address Bu$h demanded that Congress update the laws governing electronic surveillance. Now why would George give a damn about whether the law is up-to-date or not. It’s not like the Cheney/Bush Administration is following any of the laws anyway.

News Roundup for Week March 3, 2007

 Crime, General, Places, Society, Tampa  Comments Off on News Roundup for Week March 3, 2007
Mar 112007

8 Year Old Caught Selling Pot
SAGINAW, Mich. – Police said they caught an 8-year-old trying to sell marijuana to other children at a counseling center. Police were called to the Westlund Child Guidance Clinic after another boy told a teacher the 8-year-old had tried to sell pot to him. Investigators found the marijuana in a box of Lego toys belonging to the boy, television station WNEM reported.

The boy is enrolled in a program for students with disabilities, WNEM said. He was turned over to his parents. It wasn’t known if charges will be filed.

Mayan Priests to Purify Site After Bush Visit
GUATEMALA CITY – Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate “bad spirits” after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.

“That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture,” Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan nongovernmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday.

Tiney said the “spirit guides of the Mayan community” decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of “bad spirits” after Bush’s visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace.

BASE Jumper Lands in Trouble
TAMPA – William “Wild Bill” Stroup peered over the top of the future SkyPoint condominiums in downtown as wind whipped against a video camera’s microphone.

It was about 3:45 a.m. Tuesday atop the high-rise construction site, under a nearly full moon. Thirty-two stories separated Stroup from his target: a fenced-in plot on North Franklin Street where the Maas Bros. building once stood.

As Stroup floated to the ground, a man in a truck southbound on Tampa Street looked up.

“I noticed something come over my head,” Kenneth Glumm, 37, said on a taped 911 call to Tampa police. “It’s a guy with a kind of parachute kind of thing.”

“You didn’t see me. Don’t tell anybody you saw me,” Stroup said, according to Glumm. “That set off alarms,” Glumm said, recalling the fires on North Franklin Street he had heard about earlier that evening. He dialed 911. “With everything going on in the world, you never know. I thought some fool could’ve jumped out of a plane.” (So the fear mongering by the Bush Administration worked…Poor Mr. Glumm is just a scared little rabbit.)

Jailed Man Exonorated After Ski Mask Tested for DNA
West Palm Beach — A man who spent four months in prison on robbery charges was exonerated on DNA evidence, authorities said.

Cody Davis, 22, who was convicted in October of robbery and sentenced to three years in prison, spent more than four months incarcerated, but on Friday he walked out of Charlotte Correctional Institution a free man, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Two witnesses to the robbery identified Davis, and a jury convicted him. DNA testing on a ski mask found at the scene was not done immediately because it was not worn by the burglar during the crime, Chief Assistant State Attorney Al Johnson said. Test results came back with DNA matching another man in the DNA database, and a Palm Beach County sheriff’s detective noticed Davis and the other man had similar characteristics.

You Say Decision Maker, I Say Constitution, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

 Congress, Constitution, General, Politics, Presidency, War  Comments Off on You Say Decision Maker, I Say Constitution, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off
Jan 262007

Apparently the President still doesn’t get this Democracy/Constitution thing with the co-equal branches of government and checks and balances. Poor George has repeated his “I’m the Decider” declaration, amending it slightly to “I’m the decision-maker.”

Dear Mr. President:

We’ll make this simple. No, you’re not. In fact, according to the Constitution you don’t even get a vote.

Article I, Section 8 reads as follows: “The Congress shall have Power … To declare War … and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” What part of “The Congress shall have power to declare war” don’t you understand? That’s a sincere question. We know you’re not much of a reader. We’ll all be happy to talk you through this if you like. (And be advised: They may revise your instructions regarding Iraq.)

Here’s something else you’ll find in Article I, Section 8: “The Congress shall have power … to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.”

Declaring war? Making rules that govern and regulate the armed forces? That’s their job.

Now here’s your job. From Article II, Section 2: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” That’s a lot of responsibility. You have to carry out their decisions to the best of your ability. (Think of them as your Board of Directors.) As for executing their decisions on a day-to-day basis, you have as much leeway as they care to give you. You can even wear a flight suit on an aircraft carrier, although that’s not spelled out in the Constitution.

But here’s the deal: In order to keep the job you have to follow the rules. And the rules say Congress makes the decisions about matters of war. You command, they decide. Now do you want to follow the rules and obey the law or not?

Decide that. That will determine where you live and work for the next two years. Sure, it’s not as neat and orderly as a dictatorship – or as your Vice President prefers to call it, a “unitary executive.” But it’s the law. And, to quote the man you called the finest Defense Secretary ever: “Democracy is messy.” Deal with it.

Administration Changes

 Congress, Politics, Presidency, War  Comments Off on Administration Changes
Nov 092006

As I’m sure everyone has heard by now, Rumsfeld finally resigned. If there’s ever been a good riddance, it’s this one. We can only hope the guy will disappear completely from public life. It also looks like John Bolton is on short time as the UN Ambassador.

I’m sure Bush was hoping the lame duck Senate would affirm his recess appointment of John Bolton as the UN Ambassador, but he got some bad news on that front today. Lincoln Chafee, moderate Republican voted out of office, has said he will oppose the nomination. Chafee says that Americans have spoken and expressed their clear dissatisfaction with the current foreign policy.

I suspect he and others might also be harboring some resentment with the Administration. These guys generally supported the Administration, and what they got was a foreign policy so detestable, the voters turned them out of office in droves, with Bush expressing his support for Rumsfeld right up to the a few days prior to the election. I suspect a lot of these guys are pretty sore at the Administration for getting them in this fix, and probably don’t feel a strong need to continue to support W.

The Rumsfeld story is the most interesting. As noted, Bush had issued a strong public statement of support for Rumsfeld late last week. This created a lot of headaches for a lot of Republican candidates. Now we all know Rove is still a political master, and he would never have allowed W to add to the hurdles faced by the Republican Candidates. If the plan was, as W said, for Rummy to go this week, why would he lie about it (not that lying isn’t something he embraces). In this case there was no upside to the lie, and actually a serious downside.

So why would Bush make such a statement? I think they all had been drinking their own kool aid and really thought they’d maintain control of one or both houses of Congress. If that had happened, I believe we would not have seen this announcement today, and Rummy would have stayed on. Since the whole Congress was lost, the Administration knew they had to get rid of Rummy.

Clearly Congress is going to hopefully step up their oversight, and call in a few people to testify under oath. Certainly Rummy can and should be called before Congress to account for his actions, but this move does diffuse some of the impact of any hearings. Rummy’s replacement can sit at the witness table, and just say…”Hey, I just got here and can’t be held accountable for what went on before. I plan to do better, but you have to give me a little time.”

This sort of move is consistent with other tactics employed by this Administration to obfuscate and otherwise hide the truth of what is going on.

And , Always, Always…Wrong

 Constitution, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on And , Always, Always…Wrong
Oct 192006

Keith Olbermann, on his MSNBC show, has often offered some very insightful special comments at the end of his broadcast. Yesterday’s was especially poignant, so I wanted to share the transcript with you.

And lastly, as promised, a Special Comment tonight on the signing of the Military Commissions Act and the loss of Habeas Corpus.

We have lived as if in a trance. We have lived… as people in fear. And now – our rights and our freedoms in peril – we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid… of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight, have we truly become, the inheritors of our American legacy. For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have been here before – and we have been here before led here – by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.

We have been here when President John Adams insisted that the Alien and Sedition Acts were necessary to save American lives – only to watch him use those Acts to jail newspaper editors. American newspaper editors, in American jails, for things they wrote, about America.

We have been here, when President Woodrow Wilson insisted that the Espionage Act was necessary to save American lives – only to watch him use that Act to prosecute 2,000 Americans, especially those he disparaged as “Hyphenated Americans,” most of whom were guilty only of advocating peace in a time of war. American public speakers, in American jails, for things they said, about America.

And we have been here when President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that Executive Order 9-0-6-6 was necessary to save American lives – only to watch him use that Order to imprison and pauperize 110-thousand Americans…

While his man-in-charge…General DeWitt, told Congress: “It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen – he is still a Japanese.” American citizens, in American camps, for something they neither wrote nor said nor did – but for the choices they or their ancestors had made, about coming to America.

Each of these actions was undertaken for the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons. And each, was a betrayal of that for which the President who advocated them, claimed to be fighting.

Adams and his party were swept from office, and the Alien and Sedition Acts erased. Many of the very people Wilson silenced, survived him, and…one of them even ran to succeed him, and got 900-thousand votes… though his Presidential campaign was conducted entirely… from his jail cell.

And Roosevelt’s internment of the Japanese was not merely the worst blight on his record, but it would necessitate a formal apology from the government of the United States, to the citizens of the United States, whose lives it ruined.

The most vital… the most urgent… the most inescapable of reasons.

In times of fright, we have been only human. We have let Roosevelt’s “fear of fear itself” overtake us. We have listened to the little voice inside that has said “the wolf is at the door; this will be temporary; this will be precise; this too shall pass.” We have accepted, that the only way to stop the terrorists, is to let the government become just a little bit like the terrorists. Continue reading »

Small Room-Small Man

 General, Politics, Presidency, Weather  Comments Off on Small Room-Small Man
Mar 022006

It turns out that George Bush wasn’t being completely honest explaining the federal government’s response to Katrina. I know this will come as a big shock to many of you, but when W said that no one thought it would be as bad as it was, and no one could have anticipated the levee breach, he wasn’t telling the whole truth.

The Associated Press seems to have the video tape of a video conference briefing in which FEMA Director, Mike “Brownie” Brown is seen saying, this is going to be the big one. To his credit,?Brownie even raises concerns about the use of the Super Dome as a shelter. The Director of NOAA’s Hurricane Center said that no one could say the levee’s wouldn’t be breached. All the while Bush is sitting in a tiny conference room saying nothing, asking nothing, and finally simply making the statement to the local officials that the federal government will deploy whatever resources it has available. With everyone saying this is as powerful as Andrew, but not like Andrew because Katrina is much bigger, yet Bush doesn’t have a single question.

It appeared that W was viewing this as little more than a distraction to his vacation and something that should be handled by his minions. Then he lies, gets caught, and goes on his merry way with the free pass from our illustrious fourth estate, the main stream media.

Summary Of Katrina Disaster

 Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society, Weather  Comments Off on Summary Of Katrina Disaster
Sep 122005

As I’m sure you all know, the main stream media is giving wall-to-wall coverage of Katrina. The blogosphere is also providing plenty of coverage, with some of the best known bloggers actually getting directly involved in the relief efforts down on the coast. Most certainly, this is the biggest disaster to hit the U.S. in history. Therefore, all the coverage is warranted.

I thought I would make this post about Katrina, and try to move on to other things. It is a horrible disaster, and we all need to know what is going on, and understand how over government agencies are (or are not) responding to this disaster. That being said, I think there’s some fatigue to all the coverage. I’m not going to promise I won’t post about what’s going on along the Gulf Coast again, nor that I won’t continue calling your attention to the ways that the government failed us…but I’m going to try to move on to some other things.

I live in Tampa Florida about eight blocks from the Bay. A storm like the one in New Orleans would flood my house, so I’m not being callous to this situation, nor trying to forget it. How the recovery efforts are being managed is of keen interest to me, and how people are coping with the disaster is something I will most likely someday benefit from. So I am most certainly paying attention, and being sympathetic, but I’ll leave the coverage to people who are actually there.

I do want to point out some issues. The Republicans that are attempting to stay loyal to W are pausing only long enough to take one foot out of their mouth as they put the other one in. We all know about Santorum commenting to some kids in the Astrodome that losing their home, and being displaced to another state with nothing must be like Summer Camp. If its so cool, why wasn’t he staying there.

I’ll never get over the fact that W could rush back to Washington early from a previous vacation to sign the stupid Teri Schaivo legislation, but couldn’t bring himself to head back to D.C. early to be prepared for the worst natural disaster to ever hit the U.S. And don’t forget his mother’s comments about the people in the Astrodome…how they were under-privileged anyway, so this was all working really well for them. The absolute arrogance of this family astounds me. I hate to wish ill on anyone, but I hope they go broke someday, so they can get a taste of what the real world is all about.

Then, of course we have obviously allowed the administration to use FEMA and DHS as a place to repay a lot of political Debt’s, and have put in a bunch incompetent inexperienced cronies to run the most important government agency. At least Mike Brown finally resigned today. It was very obvious that FEMA’s current administration was ill prepared and late in responding. They can try to place the blame wherever they want, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they were simply unprepared.

Someone found their 2004 schedule for disaster exercises. Of 222 exercises run, only 2 dealt with hurricanes, and one of those dealt with a hurricane combined with a terrorist attack. I know, terrorism is much more glamorous than hurricane relief, but guess which one has affected more Americans.

One of the primary claims by the Administration was that they couldn’t move into the area because the Governor of Louisiana hadn’t yet declared a state of emergency. That is just a plain bold-faced lie. That had been done two days before landfall. Although I don’t think it matters anyway, an experienced FEMA team would have prepositioned resources, and if the official declarations hadn’t been made, they would have called the Governor with instructions.

I guess its just the lies of Karl Rove and his henchmen, trying to shift the blame that really pisses me off, but I get even more aggravated when I realize that people hear the crap and believe it absolutely…without any question.

They have suspended most all the rules governing government procurement, and Katrina is just another boondoggle for Cardinal Cheney’s friends at Haliburton.

And we can’t let pass all the big religious right wingnuts blaming it all on gay people and the Southern Decadence celebration. I’ve gotta tell you, if that’s who God really is, I want no part of him. (Never mind that the site of most of Decadence wasn’t flooded.)

So, now, hopefully on to other things…always remembering the people that are suffering.

Maybe The Most Remarkable Show of Gall Ever

 Politics  Comments Off on Maybe The Most Remarkable Show of Gall Ever
Jun 282005

The UN just celebrated the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Bush happily and unselfconsciously weighed in with these words, per USA Today of 6/27:

“Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right, and we are committed to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.”

And if it takes torturing a bunch of thugs and criminals and terrorists to get to that world, by God you can be damn sure we’re the ones to do it!