Thursday, March 30, 2006

Your Moment Of Zen...

(With apologies to Jon Stewart for borrowing the title from his brilliant closing segment.)

KOLR-10 of Springfield Missouri reports that a federal judge has sentenced Omari Ali Zackery, 28, to nine years in federal prison without parole for the attempted robbery of the TelComm Credit Union in Springfield. Zachary had pled guilty to the charge, last April and had been found guilty, last November, on a separate charge of using a handgun in the attempt.

In other news...

Jack Abramoff and his former partner, Adam Kidan , were each sentenced to 5 years, 10 months (the minimum sentence,) plus 3 years' probation for successfully defrauding investors of 60 million dollars in a casino investment scheme that is believed to have played a part in the slaying of casino owner Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis (in whose murder both Abramoff and Kidan deny having any role.)

Abramoff and Kidan remain free from prison, however, in return for their continued cooperation with the investigation of Boulis' death. Their continued cooperation, to the satisfaction of prosecutors in the Boulis case, could result in their sentences being reduced even further.

(In regards to both cases) What happened to "tough on crime?"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Politicians Say The Scariest Things...

Senate Majority Leader, anti-abortion champion and Presidential hopeful Bill Frist, (currently under investigation for insider trading regarding his sale of stock in his family's HCA Inc. hospital chain, a for-profit abortion provider) in a recent Associated Press interview:

"As a surgeon, I did my best work when people were sound asleep, cutting out their hearts, putting new hearts in. And now what I need to do, everybody says, is do your best work and not put people to sleep. That's what I'll work on."

Oh...kay... Did he just say he wants us awake and screaming when he rips our still-beating hearts from our chests with his bare hands?!?!

Cripes, and I thought old "Shoot-em-in-the-face" Cheney was a tough old bird-hunter!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

He Must Know What He's Doing... Right?

Ok, let's say that a nasty radioactive "present" is in a cargo container in a ship on it's way to the U.S. Our only hope of thwarting this terrorist attack is one of our Bahamas Ports, where the ship is to dock and the cargo is to be scanned for the last time before reaching U.S. soil. This is your life, your family's lives, your friends' lives... the lives of everyone you know and everyone you wish you knew on the line. Who do you think should be present for this scan? Who shouldn't be?

George Bush thinks a Hong Kong firm (with strong ties to China's government, cited by military intelligence as a potential security risk and conduit for contraband cargo and having a subsidiary prevented in 2003, from buying out a telecommunications firm for national security reasons) should be put in charge and that no U.S. customs officials -- or anybody else, for that matter -- should oversee, double check or even be present for the scan. If they say a shipment is safe, by golly, it's safe!

Bush is so sure about placing the safety of our nation in this firm's hands that he didn't waste their time, his time or our nation's time with a bidding process that would have forced them to compete for the job. He's so sure that he didn't consider, for one moment, the idea of trusting Americans with American security.

Meanwhile, in other news...

  • Indentured servitude (aka slavery) is alive and thriving in America, thanks to the estimated 50,000 Chinese immigrants smuggled into the U.S., primarily through our ports, each year.

  • Chinese troops are training troops south of our borders in Latin America.

  • Our manufacturing industry continues its exodus to Asian sweatshops at the behest of the Big Box industry, as working class Americans remain unemployed or under-employed.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hope He Remembers to Post-Date His Decision!

Justice Scalia, Tuesday August 5, 1986, responding to a confirmation hearing question from Sen. Kennedy about whether he'd overturn Roe v. Wade:

"I mean, if I can say why. Let us assume that I have people arguing before me to do it or not to do it. I think it is quite a thing to be arguing to somebody who you know has made a representation in the course of his confirmation hearings, and that is, by way of condition to his being confirmed, that he will do this or do that. I think I would be in a very bad position to adjudicate the case without being accused of having a less than impartial view of the matter."

Yes, it's quite a thing to argue before a U.S. Supreme Court Justice who admitted at his confirmation hearing that he has no intention of being impartial in your case. Apparantly, though, it's quite another thing to argue before a U.S. Supreme Court Justice who admitted to an overseas audience, just weeks earlier, that he has no intention of being impartial in your case.

The AP reports on a NewsWeek story:

"Justice Antonin Scalia reportedly told an overseas audience this month that the U.S. Constitution does not protect foreigners held at America's military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

"...The comments came just weeks before Justices were to take up an appeal from a detainee at Guantanamo Bay."

Ok, I give up. Why, exactly, is one of our Supreme Court Justices speaking to and taking questions from a Swiss (or any foreign) audience about ANYthing?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Live Blogging

A few moments ago, George W. Bush spoke to an audience in Cleveland of signs of success in Iraq. He described these signs in one Iraqui city, citing things like electricity and water being turned back on, the sounds of construction crews rebuilding the city and the sight of markets re-opening. He described a city awakening anew and thriving.

Meanwhile, New Orleans is still a city littered with debris and covered in mud with businesses that remain closed and people who remain displaced from homes no longer tenable in neighborhoods left to rot.

What happened to "America first?"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Bloggin' On Blago

Rod Blagojevich, the first Democrat Governor of Illinois in 26 years, inherited from his Republican predecessors, a staggering deficit of 5 billion dollars -- by far, the largest deficit in the history of Illinois.

In fewer than four years, Blagojevich has reorganized and successfully balanced our state budget without raising state income taxes or state sales taxes.

How are we Illinoisans suffering from Blagojevich's budget tightening? Are we sacrificing our children, working families and seniors? Far from it!

Healthcare buttonWe're the only state in the U.S. whose kids, ALL OF THEM, are guaranteed health insurance coverage! We've also insured hundreds of thousands of our seniors and working adults!

Education funding was increased by 2.3 billion and our graduation standards were raised for the first time in more than 20 years.

living wage bumper sticker60,000 new jobs were created in Illinois and with our minimum wage of $6.50, we're one of just 16 states with a minimum wage above the $5.15 national minimum wage.

Crime rates are down, in every category, across the entire state. Traffic fatalities in the state are at a 61 year low.

What's more, because our state is increasingly pro-kids and pro-working families under Blagojevich, more pregnant women are choosing motherhood and the number of abortions performed in Illinois has dropped to the lowest numbers since 1973!!

We got all of this and more! From a Democrat.

A lot of people believe in the Republicans' favorite campfire tale bogie-man... the evil tax and spend Democrat. But, the truth is that both parties tax because both parties spend. (A tax cut, at any level of government, that isn't matched to or exceeded by budget cuts is an expensive ploy for popularity points with costly, long term, ramifications.)

If you don't think Republicans like taxing us every bit as much as Democrats do, it might interest you to learn that it was a Republican Governor -- Richard Ogilvie -- who, in 1969, instituted the Illinois state income tax and that each and every increase, since then, has come from Republican Governors! One of our most popular Republican Governors, Jim Thompson, not only passed Illinois' largest-ever income tax increase, he also gave us a whopping 25% increase in our state sales tax!

education bumper stickerSome Blagojevich critics want our health care for kids and the increased education funding undone. But, by and large, we Illinoisans like that our kids are healthier, smarter and safer and that it's getting a little easier to afford to raise them here.

The candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the governor's race are vowing to put this state back on track. What they've failed to take into account is that if we wanted to go where that train was taking us, we wouldn't have disembarked at the last stop.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Conversation Piece

(An imaginary conversation with President Bush)

Bush, to a conference of the National Newspaper Association March 10, 2006:

"Dubai services more of our military, military ships, than any country in the world."

Us: We're glad you brought that up! We have a few bones to pick about that, too.

Don't get us wrong. We're totally on board with the idea that Ed's Shop & Tank, conveniently located on a street corner near us, is too small and not so conveniently located to the overseas ports where our military ships need to be refueled & restocked and that, until the inevitable launch of a Wal-Mart one-stop-Naval-shopping flotilla capable of servicing, refueling and restocking entire fleets, we have no choice but to rely on companies located in the areas our ships are making port.

We don't like that a foreign government, friend, foe or neutral is privy to so much sensitive information about our Naval fleet. We don't like that U.A.E.'s purchase of Inchcape Shipping Services from a private British firm was allowed to go through silently and with, as far as we can ascertain, no scrutiny, just as you'd hoped the Dubai ports deal would go through.

But, you still haven't figured out what it is that we don't like about the Dubai ports deal, have you?

  • We don't like that our national security is being treated like a mundane commodity to be traded on the international market. We don't see our national security as a head of hog or a bushel of corn and we're deeply concerned that you do seem to see it that way.
  • We don't like that you whipped our nation into a years-long "America First, terrorists lurking in every shadow, don't trust any country that isn't a democracy -- especially if it's in the middle east, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11!" frenzy only to turn around and pay a foreign, middle eastern government that isn't a democracy and was home to two of the 9/11 hijackers to take over such an important part of our national security AND to take any jobs that go along with providing that security.
  • We don't like that supporting the U.A.E., instead of supporting the U.S.A. is the one and only thing you've been willing to buck Congress over, in the entirety of your Presidency.

Bush: "I'm concerned about a broader message this issue could send to our friends and allies around the world, particularly in the Middle East,"

Us: We'd love to believe that, we really would. But that's not the tune you were humming about broader messages sent to our friends and allies around the world when you took us to war in Iraq. You told us, then, that what our allies think about us isn't as important to you as our interests and security. We believed you meant that. We still believe you meant that. So, we suspect that what you're really concerned about is that the trade talks that were supposed to take place between the U.S. and the U.A.E., this week, have been postponed in the wake of the Dubai ports deal collapse.

Now, let's see, what tradeable commodity was likely to be discussed at these talks? Was it our national security? No, those talks are what got these talks postponed. Was it the export of goods manufactured in the good old U.S. of A? Couldn't be that -- we've already exported our manufacturing industry. It was oil, wasn't it, Mr. Bush? The "drug" you made such a point of telling us we're addicted to (and you were right -- we are.) You're worried that our strong, patriotic, bi-partisan objections to the ceding of our national security to a foreign government might have ticked off our drug dealer, aren't you? If that's what is really behind this, you can give it to us straight -- we're a strong people, we can take it. Give us a chance.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

It's Hard to Find "Good" Bush Cronies, These Days.

And to think... if not for an evil, partisan attack on the Bush administration by obstructionist Democrats who couldn't just approve all of Bush's nominees on Bush's assurances that he knows them and they're good people Claude Allen would have been a U.S. Circuit Court Justice instead of just the Bush administration's domestic policy advisor.

If you haven't heard the news, yet and you're confused as to what the heck I'm on about...

Claude Allen, Bush's domestic policy advisor and formerly a Bush nominee for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court was busted, in January, by a Target store after two years (that they have video evidence to support) of purchasing items, returning to the store with the receipt for those items and an empty Target bag, filling the bag with items identical to those on the receipt and then taking them to customer service for a refund.

In 2004, Democrats had major issues and serious questions about Bush's nomination of Allen and threatened to filibuster -- the neo-con faction of the Republican party blasted Democrats for daring to have, much less voice concerns and the threat to filibuster was painted in the right wing press as a full frontal attack on Bush, minorities, Christianity, Republicans, the courts and the nation.

The Whitehouse was notified shortly after Allen's arrest and a few weeks later, Allen resigned his position alleging that it was to spend more time with his family.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Big Box Blues (Song Parody)

Dyin' For The Discount Store
(Big Box Blues)

By Melhi written: Mar. 9, 2006
To the tune of:
I've Been Working On the Railroad

Clicking the link to hear a webbed copy of the original song, while you read the parody lyrics, will not take you away from this page.

Dyin' For The Discount Store

I've been working in the fact'ry
's where I've earned my pay
I've been working in the fact'ry
But they closed it down today

Can't pronounce the place it's goin'
Some-where in Asia, I' been told
Gave our jobs to little children
Five or six years old

Can't pay what I owe
Everyone I know's
Workin' in the discount sto-o-ore

Gonna lose my home
Everything I own
Lose it to the discount store!

They can make it cheaper with minors
Slashin' all the wages down low
Mark it up a little bit higher
Grow a bigger discount store,

And it's working...

Squeezed the little stores out
Shut all the factories do-ow-ow-own
No more shoppin' around
Curse the mighty discount store!
F*** the mighty discount store!

I've been sleepin' on the sidewalk
Near a sewer grate
Since they boarded up the whole block
And the traffic went away

Now the tumble weeds are blowin'
No-body's earning any more
Man the dream is dead, we're dying

For the discount store!
F*** the discount stooooore!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Support The Troops!!

At long last, someone has endeavored to find out what our troops serving in Iraq think about the situation. Anyone who adorns their vehicle, home or body with or who utters the phrase "Support the troops" should pay very close attention to this poll. The results are both telling and appalling.

72 percent believe the United States should exit Iraq within a year. Only 23 percent agree with Bush that US troops should stay in Iraq "as long as it takes." Even among our Marines, who were the least likely to support troop withdrawal within a year, a majority, 58%, think withdrawal is the best course of action.

A whopping 85% said the main US mission was "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9/11 attacks." This is appalling because Saddam had absolutely no role in the Sept. 11 attacks -- and more than anyone, our troops should be fully informed as to the true nature of their mission. Further, 77 percent said that the reason for the Iraq war was/is "to stop Saddam from protecting Al-Qaeda in Iraq." This is appalling because there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq until we toppled Saddam's regime, laying Iraq's borders wide open for them to cross.

As appalling as these numbers are, they are also telling because our troops honestly believe these things with every fiber of their beings. They're fighting for what I've said, all along, that they're fighting for -- America. Not for Iraqi democracy, not to find WMDs, not for cheaper oil, but FOR AMERICA. This isn't A just and noble cause, it's THE just and noble cause... a cause our troops would NEVER dismiss lightly. Yet, a majority of our troops STILL think Iraq is such a lost cause that it's time to pull out. That says more about how bad and how hopeless the situation is over there than any activist, pundit, blogger, politician or news journalist has even scratched the surface of conveying to us.

If you want to support our troops and don't know what to do (something I've heard a lot of people say, over these last few years,) you can follow my link to the poll, find out what our troops think, print out copies, run a highlighter over the most important findings, write a note in the margin if you like, and send it to your Senators, Representative and President. Write letters to the editors of newspapers in your area, citing the poll results.

When benefits are cut to our troops, their families and our veterans... speak up about it. Blog on it, post to appropriate forums about it, send letters to Washington, organize protests. Make some noise!! If they can fight for us, surely we can fight for them.