March 2005 Archives
Today's media-fueled ideological orgy marked a horrific low-point in America's history
One of the most astonishing things about the human experience is the realization that loved ones die. The first time it happens, we are invariably amazed that nearly everyone who has ever lived has weathered an experience so wrenching. We see other humans on the street and in the shops and marvel that they manage to simply go about their business - that there is no constant, universal primal scream in the face of such an awful fact.
That level of grief seldom brings out the noblest emotions. The sufferers can barely make their way through the day, let alone summon their best reserves of patience and compassion for the lucky people who continue to live. In the case of Terri Schiavo, the whole world witnessed what happens when that natural emotional frailty is taken captive by politics.
It was awful, and according to the polls, the American public shrank from the sight of it.
What little we know about Terri Schiavo - the person, as opposed to the videotape - tells us that she would have been appalled by the last weeks of her life. What worse nightmare could a rather shy and affectionate young woman conjure up than 15 years of lingering unconsciousness, in which the entire globe became intimately familiar with the sight of her wasted limbs while the people she loved most engaged in a vicious court fight for control of her body?
That kind of ordeal - even if the victim was unaware she was enduring it - deserves to be honored with some meaning. On the most pragmatic level, she has been the instrument of thousands, and probably millions, of intimate conversations in which family members told one another what they would like to happen if their own bodies outlived their minds. In countless other cases, people recalled the days on which they had said goodbye to loved ones, and perhaps many came closer to peace in dealing with their own great losses.
Americans are a deeply pragmatic people, who constantly surprise ideologues of every persuasion with their willingness to accept whatever solution seems to work best at the moment. Our great ideals, when they are boiled down at a moment of crisis, often turn out to be mainly instincts - for fairness, for the right of individual self-determination or sometimes just for the pursuit of happiness. Watching the Schiavo case unfold, most Americans quickly opted for the solution that would end the ordeal.
Some people hold religious convictions so heartfelt that they could not bow to public opinion or the courts and accept the conclusion that Ms. Schiavo should be allowed to die. They deserve respect, just as her husband and her other relatives deserve sympathy.
Those relatives also deserve to be left alone, to be protected from a spotlight that turned a family tragedy into an international spectacle of sometimes shocking vulgarity and viciousness. The case attracted outsiders in search of little more than another opportunity to further their own self-aggrandizement. But worst of all were the powerful people who looked at the world we live in today, in which politics is about maximizing hysteria at the margins, and concluded that the Schiavo fight was a win-win - for everyone but the people who actually cared about the dying woman.
Today, finally, there is a moment of consensus. Rest in peace, Theresa Marie.
Sound familiar? Today's Sacramento Bee
Officials in Sacramento and Placer counties expected some problems when they agreed to be the first of an 18-county consortium to launch a $744 million computer system for their welfare departments.
But they didn't expect this...
"We're worried that it's coming across that workers are incompetent and slow and untrained, but it's not us, it's the system
," said caseworker Stacy Hernandez. "The system won't let me get my people their benefits, and it's killing me. I have people who are hungry, and I give them money from my pocket, like, 'Here's five bucks, get something to eat.' "
Last week, Nancy Gant, bureau chief at the Q Street welfare office, arranged what she called an "act of God" to sidestep the CalWIN system to secure a $123 stipend so that a woman could buy a uniform for her new job and move toward a life without public assistance. No one could figure out how to make the system approve the money. And to complete applications faster, other employees were taught shortcuts on how to sidestep the system's strict information requirements.
State law requires emergency food stamps to be issued to the truly destitute within three days, but the county's work force is not processing those applications fast enough, and the county has given up on meeting that requirement, Gant said.
"We're just hunkering down and waiting for the lawsuit," she said.
Placer and Sacramento county officials say they hope to avoid a repeat of the problems Colorado has faced with its new $200 million welfare computer system - also built by CalWIN's vendor, Texas-based EDS...
Are you sick of being lied to about human rights abuses committed in your name?
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is charging that U.S. Army documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the mistreatment of detainees in Iraq was much more widespread than the government has admitted.
The advocacy group also accused the Army of failing to comply with a court order to release the documents and manipulating the media â€?to minimise coverage and public access.â€?
The ACLU said the reason for the delay in delivering the more than 1,200 pages of documents was "evident in the contents
", which include reports of brutal beatings, "exercise until exhaustion" and sworn statements that soldiers were told to "beat the f**k out of" detainees. One file cites evidence that military intelligence personnel in Iraq "tortured" detainees held in their custody.
The treatment was reportedly meant to "soften up" detainees for interrogation. It occurred at the same time guards at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were carrying out similar tactics.
"At a minimum, the documents indicate a colossal failure of leadership," ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer told IPS. "The documents provide further evidence that abuse of prisoners was pervasive in Iraq. The government's contention that abuse was aberrational is completely unhinged from reality."
...In an interview with National Public Radio on Saturday, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) fumed: "The judicial branch is totally out of control. [It] rejects the Constitution and federal law. It's time for Congress to assert authority over the federal courtsâ€¦. We can limit jurisdiction, but I'm not sure that gets the job done. We could cut the [courts'] budget and prohibit the Justice Department from enforcing the orders of the court. When their budget dries up, we'll get their attention. If we're going to preserve our Constitution, we must get them in line."
So much for the founding fathers' bedrock belief in the separation of powers. Who knows, if both state and federal courts continue disappointing the far right by applying the law, maybe the Steve Kings and Tom DeLays of the world will advocate the creation of a whole new judiciary, a network of morality or religious courts that would have jurisdiction over pressing social issues.
The Republican Party is at a point where former Sen. John Danforth, in a commentary in the New York Times on Wednesday, charged that a conservative religious agenda has hijacked the GOP that he served most of his life. If the likes of King do not represent his party, it is time for other elected Republicans to speak up, not just grumble privately.
Update; Lurching Toward Theocracy
I've gotten a fair number of emails from folks who want to know why the wife and I weren't tossed out of the Bushprez Social Security road show
like the other infidels
Some of it likely had to do with shining a little light on the whole exclusion issue by emailing thousands of our friends
But in the end, you've got to be creative to get past those "overzealous volunteers" with their little lapel pins and earpieces. And unless you park blocks away from the event, even your bumperstickers
could sell you down the river as a potential troublemaker.
Fortunately, the righties themselves have provided us with quick and dirty camouflage:
Best part is it's magnet-mount, so you can go incognito anytime you feel the need...
Okay, LaShawn Barber (rightwing blogger of record) didn't exactly seem to love us.
But we made her MSNBC Blog Roundup
all the same.
Watch it here
, who also copped a mention).
And here's the blog entry
she referred to.
As of 10:20AM:
Should Governor Owens allow victims of rape to receive information to avoid an unwanted pregnancy?
Yes 752 (98.2%)
No 13 (1.7%)
Undecided 1 (0.1%)
We've received over 250 comments for the Governor:
"It is unconscionable to even consider withholding information that might help a rape victim avoid an unwanted pregnancy. When she has already been victimized one time, by the rapist, why would we even consider making her a victim a second time by not offering any and all assistance available? It makes no sense to withhold information regarding pregnancy and avoiding pregnancy, and it is repugnant to imagine that our state would be a party to this kind of activity."
"Being raped is bad enough. Being forced to carry your attackers unwanted child because a hospital refused to give you contraception information due to "religious" scruples makes the injury from the rape orders of magnitude worse. Hospitals that accept public money, ie Medicare and or Medicaid must treat patients in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1965. It is illegal to descriminate on the basis of creed or religious belief. Refusing to give this needed information due to "religious" scruples on the part of the hospital's administration fall afoul of federal and state law. Your job as head of the Executive Branch of the State Government is to ensure that our laws are enforced. I want you to sign this bill into law, and then enforce it."
"Why should any politician have any say about what happens to someone's body? I didn't realize that rape victims were up for debate. This administration has already made a mockery of Terri Schiavo, where is it going to stop? I thought Republicans are for less government control not more. Obviously, for politicians, they must not have first hand accounts of what it is like to be sexually assaulted or raped. I do and I know many unreported sexual assaults that females and even males are too embarrassed/ashamed to share. Maybe one of the reasons is politicians want to turn us into martyrs for their ideals, disregarding that person's feelings or reputation. Look at the whole person! I could go on talking about how many laws and acts in this country discriminate due ethnicity, culture, and socio-economic status. How about that CSAP?"
We'll get them all down to the Gold Dome for the Governor's consideration. Thanks for making your voices heard.
And you can still vote and comment here
You know the story by now. A man who dressed and acted like a Secret Service agent threw out three Coloradans
from last week's Bush-Beauprez Social Security meeting because they had emerged from a car with a "No Blood For Oil" bumpersticker.
And always loathe to do what most of us do every day--admit an error and apologize--the Bush White House, Congressman Beauprez and the Republican Party stand firm on denying culpability.
The "bouncer" was an unnamed, overzealous volunteer.
Ooops, no. He's a Republican Party staffer who still will be unnamed.
They were ejected because they "might try to disrupt
the event." (because we can read your minds?)
It's not Beauprez's fault: "No one has ever been asked to leave for dissent from a Beauprez event," claim his spokesperson.
The Colorado Republican Party and the Republican National Committee firmly deny they had anything to do it.
Because in BushWorld no bigwig is ever responsible for his actions. Consequences? What consequences?
Air Force brass can ignore sexual harrassment
and assault, hanging women cadets out to dry.
Military officers can evade punishment
in systematic torture of war prisoners, but let's court-martial PFCs and other grunts.
Security agencies can refuse to share
intelligence. Hell, so can intra-agency divisions .
Honchos can be "dead wrong"
on intelligence that starts an unfounded war that kills 100,000+ civilians.
State Department officials can eliminate
the US's share of UN Population Fund funding ($34 million) the result of which is an estimated "2 million unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 induced abortions, 4700 maternal deaths and 77000 infant and child deaths."
Wait a minute...aren't these the same people who campaigned on the virture of "personal responsibility" people. Oh, I get it...that's just for the little people, like people "on welfare" and women whose birth control method fails.
Well, believe it or not, most of us out here in the heartland actually take this personal responsibility seriously. At my house, kids are:
1) Not punished for THINKING ABOUT "bad choices" they don't make
2) Are reprimanded for transgressions they actually accomplish
Memo to White House Chief of Staff Andy Card:
Unless your event henchman has secret psychic powers unavailable to the rest of us, it was just wrong to throw the three Denver residents out. THEY HADN'T DONE ANYTHING "DISRUPTIVE!" Repeat after me: Don't punish the innocent...don't punish the innocent...dont punish the innocent.
As for the responsibility shirkers in your circle, I'd be happy to host a boot camp for your staffers. My kids, John and Sarah, can demonstrate how to own mistakes, accept consequences and apologize and make restitituion.
And since we don't seem to have this problem around here, Charlie and I can coach you, Karl Rove and President Bush on how to set behavior expectations and enforce the rules.
...no wonder Bush insisted this be buried
until well after the election...
A report made public this morning concludes that American intelligence agencies were "dead wrong" in almost all of their prewar assessments about the state of unconventional weapons in Iraq, and that on issues of this importance "we simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude."
It adds, "The harm done to American credibility by our all too public intelligence failures in Iraq will take years to undo."
The report concludes that while many other nations believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, "in the end, it was the United States that put its credibility on the line, making this one of the most public - and most damaging - intelligence failures in recent American history."
Today: when righties eat their own
, Bushprez aides 'concern' about the slightest dissent
, Stephen Jordan
, and the Denver Post
takes on the emergency contraception bill
Plus: Bush's fuzzy math
, DeLay Diehards
, and the battle over John Bolton
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Watch out! They've got you right where you want them!
"We stuck to what we knew to be true and did not call them talking points or a Republican memo [neither
--ed.]. The document was provided by an official who has a long record of trustworthiness
, and this official gave a precise account of the document's provenance, satisfying us that it was authentic and that it had been used in an attempt to influence Republican senators." Allen said that under the journalistic ground rules, he could not say whether the source was a Democrat or a Republican.
A Democratic Senate official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the party is not publicly discussing the memo's origin, said: "It's ridiculous to suggest that these are some talking points concocted by a Democratic staffer. The fact is, these talking points were given to a Democratic member by a Republican senator."
So the much-feared Powerline Blog
is on to another supposed Memogate. They've got less of a case than before, but the word "memo" went up like the Bat Beacon, and out they came.
Wholly by coincidence, this 'skepticism' happens to run cover
for the same people burying Memogate
helped. But that doesn't really surprise you, does it? After all, these are the established experts on documents that seem, at a casual glance, to make righties look bad.
In the end, it's not really about the truth with these guys. It's more about injecting just enough murky deniability, so that millions of Fristfolk and DeLay Diehards can continue to live with themselves.
For myself, I'll be sticking with the Washington Post
, itself far from a lefty propaganda sheet (though John Hinderaker likely prefers the Times
) until they wave us off.
But thanks for playing.
oh yes they can
... (via jeanne
... bet he did a stint pounding Florida election officials in '00, too...
in the right-wing trash-fight ...
John Danforth is a former Republican Senator from Missouri. He resigned in January as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He's also an Episcopal minister.
Let's recap. John Danforth is not a "secular humanist". He's not a "left-wing radical." He's a theologian and a conservative Republican politician. So it's big news when he says he's concerned that his party has been taken over by conservative religious extremists. His op-ed in today's New York Times
is a must read. Read the full article in the extended entry. Here is a choice excerpt:
The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.
When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.
Well said. And for another example of Ambassador Danforth's concerns, we need look no further than Governor Owens' objections to the bill requiring hospitals to notify women who have been raped of the option of emergency contraception.
This morning we sent out a polling and commentary request to our e-mail subscribers, asking for their opinion on how the Governor should respond to HB-1042: a bill to require all hospitals inform rape victims that emergency contraception is available.
As of 2:15PM, here are the results so far:
Should Governor Owens allow victims of rape to receive information to avoid an unwanted pregnancy?
Yes: 473 (97.9%)
No: 9 (1.9%)
Undecided: 1 (0.2%)
Over 150 respondents have also left messages for the Governor:
"I'm sure, Mr. Owens, that if one of your daughters were raped, you'd want her to have the chance to avoid a pregnancy. Rape is a heinous crime that changes a person's life--to force a woman to have a child resulting from a crime is victimizing a woman all over again."
"Sometime people must put what's best for others before their own beliefs."
"Allow? I am a victim of rape, two different times of my life. The first time left me pregnant and I immediately had an abortion. I have never in my life regreted the decision to terminate this pregnancy. And that was 22 years ago. This may not be everyone's choice, but I am not God and it is not up to me to make that decision for anyone else. Please make this information available. The rapist could have genetic problems that can be passed onto a child, making the child harder to be adopted. Carrying a child of rape would have made me want to end my own life. It is horrible enough that I have to live with what happened to me, but to force me to have a child out of a violent action would have pushed me and so many over the edge."
Thanks very much for your timely responses -- tomorrow we'll the post final results, and deliver your comments to the Governor.
There's still time to participate! Click here:
Democracy Now! reports on goons, who just happen to work for Cheney's own Halliburton Company
Eli Chavez, the father of Ron Chavez. He is also a decorated veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency for his work in Laos and the Philippines. He is also a former Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent as well as a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division. Last year, he ran for Congress in the state of New Mexico...
"My son Ronald Lee Chavez an employee of Halliburton in Iraq was severely beaten
by peer Halliburton employees. These employees are known in Iraq as the Leesville, LA "Red Neck Mafia".
Ronald was med-evaced to Camp Anaconda where he is in a US Military Hospital and remains there. According to my daughter in law Patti, Ronald is to be transferred to a military hospital in Germany because of Atria Fibrillation to his heart due to the severe beating. What I understand, Halliburton has advised Patti, that Ronald needs a Passport to get medical treatment at a Military Hospital in Germany.
While Ronald was in Albuquerque on R & R, he advised me that his Boss did not like him because Ronald is Hispanic; and that the "Red Neck Mafia" ran the operation for Halliburton at Baghdad Airport. Ronald further advised me that he had reported by Memorandum to higher authority within the Halliburton Chain of Command the vulnerabilities at Baghdad Airport regarding to terrorist attacks. Ronald further stated that higher authority was upset at his recommendations.
According to Patti, Halliburton advised her that they had sent 3 of the "Redneck Mafia" members back to the USA; and that Halliburton was not going to file criminal charges against them..."
It's not much different than the issue confronting Governor Owens today on emergency contraception information
for rape victims.
An object lesson for those who believe not informing people solves anything:
U.S.-funded "abstinence-only" programs are jeopardizing
Uganda's successful fight against HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch said in a new report today. Abstinence-only programs deny young people information about any method of HIV prevention other than sexual abstinence until marriage.
The 80-page report, "The Less They Know, the Better: Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda
," documents the recent removal of critical HIV/AIDS information from primary school curricula, including information about condoms, safer sex and the risks of HIV in marriage. Draft secondary-school materials state falsely that latex condoms have microscopic pores that can be permeated by HIV, and that pre-marital sex is a form of "deviance." HIV/AIDS rallies sponsored by the U.S. government spread similar falsehoods.
"These abstinence-only programs leave Uganda's children at risk of HIV," said Jonathan Cohen, a researcher with Human Rights Watch's HIV/AIDS Program and one of the reportâ€™s authors. "Abstinence messages should complement other HIV-prevention strategies, not undermine them."
The news is full of the tough choice
Governor Bill Owens faces in deciding whether to sign House Bill 1042, requiring Colorado hospitals to tell rape victims about emergency contraception during their post-assault examinations.
Tough choice? For whom, exactly?
Not for most victims of sexual assault. As Representative Fran Coleman said, "This bill is for someone who has just been sexually assaulted, who did not welcome that sperm
into her body...It's just like wanting a bullet removed from your body."
But supposedly it's tough because the governor is Roman Catholic and he campaigned on "conservative values."
I have a lot of Catholic friends, none of whom buy the church's anti-contraceptive, mandatory-be-fruitful-and-multiply doctrine. It's an anachronistic vestige of the agricultural past, regardless of what Archbishop Charles Chaput wants his flock to believe.
And the bill isn't about prescribing abortion pills. It requires hospital emergency rooms to offer INFORMATION about EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION. ER's don't even have to stock the pills--they are simply required to tell women that the pills exist if they don't want to be impregnated by a hideous, violent rapist. Women themselves can decide whether EC is for them or not.
Catholic hospitals are in the business of offering medical treatment and advice. I highly doubt these institutions are recommending self-flagellation for depressed patients or other acts of barbarism practiced by members of various Catholic sects over the centuries.
Giving information to traumatized women is compassionate--it's very New Testament. Catholic hospital administrators should feel comfortable about offering this kind of help to suffering rape victims.
Because forcing women victims to carry and bear the child of their rapist is barbaric. Period.
This is about real people and real lives. It's not theater of the absurd, where Monty Python's mega-parody "Every Sperm is Sacred" is actually true.
And surely even the most ardent pro-lifer, whether Catholic or a "conservative values" activist, can understand that preventing an unwanted pregnancy prevents abortion, something we can all agree is a good thing.
And for those pregnant rape victims who want to stay that way--like the mom who played an audio tape of her rape-conceived child
singing "Jesus Loves Me"--there is nothing that prevents them from choosing that path.
Amanda Mountjoy, fellow Catholic, fellow Republican and spokeswoman for Republican Majority for Choice confirms that this shouldn't be a tough choice for the governor. Fellow conservatives Senator Nancy Spence and Representative Lynn Hefley agree.
Hmmm...all women. Very interesting. Can it be that only women can conceive of the pain, violence, violation and degradation of rape?
Maybe I'm not suitably realistic, but I don't believe that. I think men can at least begin to understand.
As far as I can see, this is a no-brainer for the governor, even though he has yet to take a position on the matter.
C'mon Governor Owens...do the right thing for the women of Colorado.
Today: Owens and the emergency contraception law
, national media jumps on the booted attendees
from last week's Bushprez road show, and DPD still seems to want lists of political troublemakers
Plus: The Durango Herald
offers some Schiavo sanity
And the Abu Ghraib scandal
: not just corporals anymore!
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Energy prices up, GDP suffers. A small, Bush-friendly sector of the economy benefits, but (statistically speaking, anyway) that's not you.
On the contrary...
Christie Baker, owner of Flowers on the Green, recently had to hike the cost of a delivery in Guilford, Conn., from $6 to $8 to make up for the higher cost of gas. In La Jolla, Calif., Domino's just increased the amount it pays delivery drivers by a nickel a trip: They now get 95 cents to transport a large pepperoni, but it's still not enough to cover the cost, says assistant manager Donald Cunningham. And at Meyers Moving & Storage in New York City, they're now charging $15 more an hour to move from an apartment on the East Side to the West. Owner Guy Drori says the rates may go up again come summer.
The hike in oil prices
is beginning to ripple through the economy, pinching consumers at places far beyond the gas pump.
And though prices have eased in recent days, they remain well above $50 a barrel, and many expect them to stay high. So air travelers on international routes are now seeing huge fuel surcharges, the cost of a bunch of grapes is up a few cents, and economists expect to see costs increase on an array of manufactured goods from televisions to toasters...
The hundreds of irregular militia, Aryan Nations devotees, and Tom Tancredo
supporters converging along the Arizona/Mexico border this week want to put a big smiley-face on their month-long 'mission' to interdict illegal immigrants in the Sonoran desert.
Footage of heavily-armed rebel flag wavers with ATVs doesn't help their PR efforts. Nor, it seems, does the record of abuses against detained immigrants in southern Arizona.
The stories of illegal entrants abused by Cochise County vigilantes
are buried in sheriff's deputy reports - complaints of guns drawn, dog bites, shouts and humiliation - in official language, using terms such as aggravated assault and disorderly conduct...yet there's never been a single Cochise County resident prosecuted in these cases.
Human-rights activists say it's because there's a culture of looking the other way when it comes to illegal-entrant abuse. Cochise County law enforcement officials say it's because the victims - illegal entrants - choose not to pursue charges. And without witnesses, there are no cases.
The debate has led to civil lawsuits involving millions of dollars. And it has fueled concerns by activists that lax enforcement will allow participants in the upcoming Minuteman Project
to abuse illegal entrants without fear of prosecution in Cochise County.
Last year, one of its leaders, Chris Simcox, was convicted on federal weapons charges. More recently, the white supremacy group Aryan Nation has openly recruited for the Minuteman Project, promoting the monthlong protest as a "white pride event."
Of course, they're just 'on message
' with Tancredo by coincidence
Why start paying attention to history now? Robespierre would smile at Condi's willpowered zealotry.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has alarmed many reformist Arabs with comments suggesting a new U.S. approach that promotes rapid political change without regard for internal stability
"This a very dangerous scheme. Anarchy will be out of control," said Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University and an advocate of gradual change.
A liberal Arab diplomat, who asked not to be named, said: "They seem to be supporting chaos and instability as a pretext for bringing democracy. But people would rather live under undemocratic rule than in the chaotic atmosphere of Iraq, for example, which the Americans tout as a model."
On second thought, it's like Napoleon without the Code
How convenient that acting Air Force Secretary Peter B. Teets retired and left office on Friday, just days after deciding not to punish
any of the brass involved in the Air Force Academy sexual assault and harassment scandal.
You remember the details: Women cadets who reported sexual assaults and sexual harassment brought them retaliation, while their cases were botched and mishandled.
In conducting his investigation, Teets himself admits he didn't interview any of the cadets involved, nor anyone else connected to the rape cases.
Nevertheless Teets said the officials were "not intentionally or willfully derelict in their duties...The record of missed warning signs is disturbing but these officers acted in good faith to discharge their responsibilities to act in the cadet's best interests by taking bold steps to deter sexual assaults..."
In a nutshell, the Air Force is "not responsible" for the assault problem.
It's just like a bunch of frat boys shrugging innocently at the cops looking into alcohol and sex infractions in the aftermath of a raging party, "I dunno who bought the kegs"..."I didn't know there were minors here"..."Girls? Were there girls here?"
Even though the Air Force insists that Teets' decision is final unless additional information or allegations come forward, there's a movement afoot to call on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to take further action to hold officials accountable.
Call me cynical, but asking Donald Rumsfeld to take on issues of military responsibility is a little like inviting the fox to guard the henhouse. See Abu Ghraib and other major scandals.
It's just so outrageous. We are talking about women who are willing to give their lives to defend us in war, and a war is being waged against them within their own ranks.
Women in the military have to fight both enemy combatants and their "brothers-in arms." Who's going to watch their backs?
There are a few members of Congress calling for a full and fair investigation of the Air Force's dereliction of duty when it comes to women. I hope they can break the code of silence.
And I gotta give full credit to Senator Wayne Allard, with whom I disagree on virtually every policy issue, who has been pursuing justice for the women cadets from the beginning. He called Teets' decision "inexcusable." More power to you on this one, Senator Allard...keep the pressure on.
At the Metropolitan State College of Denver
, as with most state-sponsored bureaucratic leviathans, time and questions are increasing confusion, rather than clearing the waters. After a sudden announcement of a "solo finalist
" for President of the College, and a hasty, highly-structured interview session (singular), the Board of Trustees rushed at full speed into . . . a fourteen-day waiting period? The Chair, Bruce Benson, one-time GOP gubernatorial potential, announced with obvious chagrin the Board's discovery of a statutory limitation on efforts to install their eleventh-hour candidate, requiring a two-week wait between announcement of Dr. Stephen Jordan and his appointment.
Now, the two weeks having slipped quickly past, the special meeting of Metro's exclusively rightwing-appointed Board has been canceled, delaying any possible decision for at least one week and leaving college constituents speculating. Could the supreme management team simply not coordinate schedules, or is this seemingly drunken stagger from date to date indicative of something else? One faculty member wondered, "perhaps Dr. Jordan's enthusiasm doesn't quite match Bruce Benson's?"
Adding to the entropic slide into this hiring decision is the audacious effort on behalf of a few students and faculty to take on an unthinkable task - investigate Dr. Stephen Jordan for themselves. Upon a closer look, certain members of the self-described "lunatic fringe" are suggesting that perhaps Dr. Jordan's record at Eastern Washington University, where he currently resides as President, may not match his press releases. Allegations of an all-out assault on minority support services are presented simultaneously with claims ranging from the perpetuation of an anti-woman employment regime to a solid history of poor financial decisions. I sought to collect written opinions
from students, faculty, staff, and even administrators at EWU, and the descriptions of Jordan are somewhat less than flattering.
The latest debacle in conservative-managed higher education is about to come to a head, largely because the constituents at Metro are angry, not at Jordan, but at their Trustees, who do not seem to want to hear about it. Although Benson recently told papers that the Board would listen to members of the Metro community, he also praises Jordan up and down, and admits that they would not have brought Jordan in without some certainty that he was the best choice for the position. Critics point at a hasty breeze through an already questionable search committee, and the bare minimum of notice before Jordan's one day on campus. Regardless, both sides will no doubt come out swinging on the 6th, when the Board is expected to discuss the appointment and allow constituents to express their opinions in a public forum.
Today: cheering for Lisl Auman
(but not too much), a pattern of suppression
of all things controversial at CU, Secret Service
looking into folks ejected from the Bushprez road show
, and the gas industry freaks out about Rep. Curry's surface-rights bill
Plus: GOP Social Security revolt
, bankruptcy judges cry foul
, Supreme Court twists up some medical marijuana
, and more on the trouble with John Bolton
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
That's right, baby, the G-man is back. And this time, it's neither a male escort service
nor a rightwing propaganda factory
But many thanks to Gannon for forever associating the two.
Jeff Gannon is back -- at the National Press Club?
Yes, the same day that the prestigious Washington, D.C., journalism organization plans to present a lunch talk by former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, it will also allow the former White House reporter/sex site operator
to be on a panel discussing bloggers and online journalism.
Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, resigned his job with the conservative Talon News last month after it was revealed he had used a pseudonym, had little journalism background, and had ties to male escort Web sites.
Still, Press Club leaders will include Gannon on the panel April 8 that includes Wonkette.com
editor Ana Marie Cox, National Journal's John Stanton, and others.
Gannon told E&P today that he always considered himself a legitimate journalist, and "perhaps their invitation is recognition of that."
Yeah, I'm thinking not
, but whatever gets his nerve up.
Not 'fixing' Social Security
, not "stopping the homosexual lobby
," not the specter of Al-Qaeda Mexicans
pouring over the border, or whether or not Terri Schiavo
lives or dies:
Iraq War Is Top Problem For Americans
Many adults in the United States remain worried about the war in Iraq, according to a poll by CBS News. 26 per cent of respondents say the military operation is the most important problem facing the country today.
The coalition effort against Hussein's regime was launched in March 2003. At least 1,527 American soldiers have died during the military operation, and more than 11,400 troops have been injured.
War in Iraq
Economy / Jobs
Budget Deficit / National Debt
Arizona militia is ready for a fight.
Members of a violent Central America-based gang have been sent to Arizona to target Minuteman Project volunteers
, who will begin a monthlong border vigil this weekend to find and report foreigner sneaking into the United States, project officials say.
James Gilchrist, a Vietnam veteran who helped organize the vigil to protest the federal government's failure to control illegal immigration, said he has been told that California and Texas leaders of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have issued orders to teach "a lesson" to the Minuteman volunteers.
"We're not worried because half of our recruits are retired trained combat soldiers," Mr. Gilchrist said. "And those guys are just a bunch of punks."
Of course, this did come from the Washington Times
, so in the same breath as gangster threats:
According to guidelines issued to the volunteers earlier this month, organizers said they expect that they will be targeted by various protest groups and others and that some protesters would try to provoke confrontations...
Outlaw? Protester? Something tells me skin color
will convey to these yokels all they need to know.
For those of you who think that feminism is, well, so 70's, think again.
A recent Census Bureau study finds--no surprise
--white men with college degrees have the highest salaries of any demographic group, making over $66,000 on average.
When looked at in terms of just gender, male college graduates typically made $63,000, while college-educated women earned $38,000.
Oh, sure, you can look for excuses. Women often cut back hours or take a hiatus from work while their children are little. Some women choose lower-paying "helping" professions like K-12 teaching or social work rather than purely commerce-driven ones. But so do some men.
But $25,000 differential? Puh-leaz. That's all about gender discrimination.
Women don't receive equal pay for equal work. It's just that simple. And the effect go beyond a paycheck, penalizing women in retirement by creating gaps in Social Security and pensions, as well.
I actually like to work--I enjoy the social interaction and the intellectual stimulation that my work provides. And I'm good at what I do. But even though I like it (and despite the fact that I took extended maternity leave after the birth of my kids), I should be paid a comparable hourly rate to a male colleague with similar talents and abilities. It's called fairness.
And the fact that I love my work and that I'm mega-productive, which I make work by consulting around my kids' schedules, should be a hint to employers that flex-time is a really good idea.
And on a different-but-relevant note, there's a growing movement
of "Pharmacists for Life" who not only won't dispense medications that violate their personal, moral or religious beliefs, but also refuse to transfer or refer prescriptions to a pharmacy that will.
Those "medications" are birth control and morning-after pills.
And they have their defenders. Like the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom's Steven H. Aden who says, "More and more pharmacists are becoming aware of their right to conscientiously refuse to pass objectionable medications across the counter. We are on the very front edge of a wave that's going to break not too far down the line."
Whoa, that's taking contolling women's future to a whole new level.
I don't even want to think about what it means for the most vulnerable women--the poor, who don't have resources to drive around town to find alternatives; the rural, who may have only one pharmacy from which to choose; and the young, who are more easily intimidated.
But even for a middle-class woman with relative privilege, what a violation! Who is my local pharmacist to deny me my doctor-prescribed birth control pills? It's none of his or her business how my husband and I decide to plan our lives. Family size is a decision with more impact that any other.
I am getting the willies just thinking about what these trends mean. Can there really be a force in society trying to reassert total control over women?
All those "traditional family values" folks, like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Colorado's very own James Dobson really mean it: They're seeking to reinstate a societal norm where Dad is the sole breadwinner; Mom bears as many children as is physically possible, spending all her time keeping the household logistics running; and all those kids are obedient and well-behaved.
There's nothing inherently wrong with that if everyone in the household, especially Mom, is on board. But it sure isn't for everyone; I know it's not for me as I have my hands full emotionally. physically and financially with two kids.
It's so 17th century, but I see the Dobsons of the world working feverishly to make it the only real option for all of us. Denying women fair wages and compelling unwanted pregnancies looks like part of a pretty smart strategy to re-establish the workplace as a man's domain. Yikes.
Oh, yeah...it's time for the feminist movement to become mainstream once again.
Today: how Wyoming got it right
, CBMS nightmare
rolls on, Colorado's education paradox
, and the Pueblo Chieftain
on Joe Stengel's laughable obstructionism
Plus: Bush's 'impish fun
,' and under one-party hegemony
, qui bono?
And more on the FBI helping Saudi nationals
flee the US after 9/11.
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Reality bites, Grover Norquist
GOP Governors Fight Tax Limits
Gov. Bill Owens (R) has been crisscrossing the country
for years promoting the virtues of this state's strict constitutional limits on government spending. He has repeatedly urged other states to adopt restrictions of their own, based on Colorado's "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" amendment, known here as TABOR.
But this summer, Owens says, he'll be traversing his own mountainous state pushing the opposite message
. Midway through his second term, Owens is working to persuade Coloradans to suspend the limits he championed and let the state government spend $3 billion more in tax money than TABOR would allow.
Owens thus becomes another low-tax, limited-government advocate who has found those principles hard to hold onto amid a sluggish economy and a sharply diminished flow of federal money to the states.
The ongoing exposure of human rights abuses in the War on Terror has read like a sketch from Saturday Night Live
Charge: the United States military and civilian covert agencies carried out an explicit policy of torture
at American-controlled facilities like Abu Ghraib prison
Response: "no we didn't. It was just a bunch of West Virginia corporals."
Charge: the CIA has transported detainees using leased civilian aircraft
to torture-friendly nations
around the world.
Response: "they promised to be nice to them."
A military tribunal determined last fall that Murat Kurnaz, a German national seized in Pakistan in 2001, was a member of al Qaeda and an enemy combatant whom the government could detain indefinitely
at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The three military officers on the panel, whose identities are kept secret, said in papers filed in federal court that they reached their conclusion based largely on classified evidence that was too sensitive to release to the public.
In fact, that evidence, recently declassified and obtained by The Washington Post, shows that U.S. military intelligence and German law enforcement authorities had largely concluded there was no information that linked Kurnaz to al Qaeda, any other terrorist organization or terrorist activities.
The Command Intelligence Task Force, the investigative arm of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the Guantanamo Bay facility, repeatedly suggested that it may have been a mistake to take Kurnaz off a bus of Islamic missionaries traveling through Pakistan in October 2001.
Justice Department lawyers told [Kurnaz's attorney] Azmy last week that the information may have been improperly declassified and should be treated in the foreseeable future as classified.
Like I said, it reads like a bad joke.
Of course, pointing out that this is the sort of behavior for which we routinely criticize despotic regimes around the world, making an absolute mockery
of our claims to be 'exporting democracy,' sooner or later subjects you to the right's endgame argument: 'you're rooting against
America.' Bill O'Reilly says that it's "the duty of Americans to shut up
once the shooting starts."
I say they've abdicated their civic responsibility, and betrayed the country's founding principles. No red-blooded, freedom loving American should ever allow this kind of lawlessness to be carried out in their name.
If they'd only known...
The juxtaposition of racing through the night in Air Force One to sign legislation intended to force doctors to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube and choosing not to use his bully pulpit to advocate for her life afterward demonstrates how uncomfortable
the matter has become for the White House. For years, Bush has succeeded politically in stitching together the disparate elements of the conservative movement, marrying the libertarian and family-values wings of his party. Now he faces a major Republican rupture.
Polls show the vast majority
of Americans, including conservatives and evangelical Christians, disapprove of the decision by Bush and Congress to get involved in the Schiavo matter. And more worrying for the White House, those polls have also shown a significant drop
in Bush's overall approval ratings.
Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist, said the party was a victim of its own success in persuading the public over the last decade that the federal government should play a less intrusive role in American life. Luntz said Congress would suffer more sustained damage because lawmakers were more visible in the matter.
But just as importantly, he said, the issue has chipped away at the political coalition on which Bush has relied. "No matter how you look at the polls, it has opened up an ideological fault within the GOP," Luntz said. "That's why some people in Washington were so shocked when the first poll numbers came back."
Do what I say
"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew â€” we all knew â€” his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."
You know things aren't going well when recruiting
is less desirable than combat
A recruiter in New York said pressure from the Army to meet his recruiting goals during a time of war has given him stomach problems and searing back pain. Suffering from bouts of depression, he said he has considered suicide. Another, in Texas, said he had volunteered many times to go to Iraq rather than face ridicule, rejection and the Army's wrath.
At least 37 members of the Army Recruiting Command, which oversees enlistment, have gone AWOL since October 2002, Army figures show. And, in what recruiters consider another sign of stress, the number of improprieties committed - signing up unqualified people to meet quotas or giving bonuses or other enlistment benefits to recruits not eligible for them - has increased, Army documents show.
And no, I don't mean how once you start lying, you have to keep lying or it all falls apart (though that's true).
I'm talking about an actual "Fox Blocker
||FOXBlocker is an innovative new product that filters out the FOX News network. Simply screw the filter into the back of your TV and never be exposed to right wing propaganda again (at least through FOX News). Using a proprietary technology, the FOXBlocker works to filter out FOX News from your cable lineup.
Protect yourself and your family, or send one to a misguided right wing friend.
I recently wrote about how the "Bush Doctrine" of pre-emptive force is perilously bad policy and a dangerous example to set for the rest of the world. Recall that the Chinese recently followed our lead
and athorized force to pre-empt Taiwan from formally declaring independence?
Well, of course, that didn't sit well with the Taiwanese
. More than one million of Taiwan's 23 million citizens just took to the streets in protest.
China, in turn, says
that the march will raise tensions between the two countries and set back bilateral ties.
President Bush has vowed
to protect Taiwan.
Wow. Good thing we still have the ever-rational statesman, Colin Powell, in the State Department. Oh, wait.
Alternate title: Fort Sumter redux?
Tread carefully, you who claim to value the rule of law.
Hours after a judge ordered that Terri Schiavo was not to be removed from her hospice, a team of state agents were en route to seize her and have her feeding tube reinserted -- but they stopped short when local police told them they would enforce
the judge's order, The Herald has learned.
For a brief period, local police, who have officers at the hospice to keep protesters out, prepared for what sources called "a showdown."
In the end, the squad from the FDLE and the Department of Children & Families backed down, apparently concerned about confronting local police outside the hospice...
In related news, a Chicagoland psychopath tried to pull his own personal Harper's Ferry rebellion
Then there's this:
FBI agents have arrested a North Carolina man on suspicion of soliciting offers over the Internet to kill Michael Schiavo
and Greer. Richard Alan Meywes of Fairview is accused of offering $250,000 for the killing of Schiavo and another $50,000 for the "the elimination of the judge who ruled against Terry."
"A Culture of Life," they call themselves without irony...
When all the machinery of government and media grinds to a halt for a solid week over one incapacitated woman in Florida
, it's usually a good idea to take a look at the week's other news. The tinfoil-hat crowd insists that these are the times when the real proverbial mickeys get slipped.
So let's see what else
happened this week:
Bush's Social Security math got another reality check.
Accounts Added On to Social Security May Not Be Viable
Bush's top goal in the debate is to divert part of the payroll tax into private investment accounts. But with that idea facing enormous resistance, more people in both parties are considering "add-on" investment accounts that could be established outside of Social Security. Yet that possible compromise increasingly looks like a dead end too.
Here's some juicy stuff about our new UN ambassador and Honduran death squads
. No questions, citizen.
Negroponte's Time In Honduras at Issue
It has been two decades since John D. Negroponte left his post as ambassador to Honduras, but the man President Bush has chosen to become the United States' first intelligence czar is still being hounded by human rights activists such as Zenaida Velasquez.
And rightie governors Wal-Martifying their states?
GOP governors cut state workers' rights
Governors in three states who've taken the step say it's about making government more efficient or being fair to non-union workers. Critics say it's political payback for labor's traditional support of Democrats and part of a wider shift to undermine workers in favor of big business.
So maybe they are
torturing people at Gitmo, after all.
And in a revelation that proves all kinds of things Yankee fans already knew, we learn the Boston Red Sox
Red Sox partner says CIA chartered his jet
Phillip Morse, a minority partner of the Boston Red Sox, said Sunday that his private jet has been chartered to the CIA and confirmed that it had been flown to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 500 terrorism suspects are held, as well as other overseas destinations.
On Wednesday, 3/23, the big story was how Grover Norquist and the ACLU (not a misprint) have signed on together
to oppose the PATRIOT Act!
Coalition Forms to Oppose Parts of Antiterrorism Law
Battle lines were drawn Tuesday in the debate over the government's counterterrorism powers, as an unlikely coalition of liberal civil-rights advocates, conservative libertarians, gun-rights supporters and medical privacy advocates voiced their objections to crucial parts of the law that expanded those powers after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Oh yeah, and Bush straight-up lied to you during the campaign about bin Laden. You remember Public Enemy #1, don't you?
File says bin Laden escaped Tora Bora
A terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was a commander for Osama bin Laden during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and helped the Al Qaeda leader escape his Tora Bora mountain hideout in 2001, according to a U.S. government document.
What kinds of things do you suppose Donald Rumsfeld is doing with his personal James Bonds?
Pentagon Increases Its Spying Markedly
But the Pentagon insists that it is not encroaching on the CIA's turf and says all its activities are permissible under existing laws and executive orders. . . In some cases, the clandestine operations involve inserting U.S. military personnel in countries unaware of the intrusion. Officials emphasized that the military has previously executed such delicate missions, but never before on such a large scale.
"Mushroom cloud," take two. We can certainly feel the South Koreans' pain.
U.S. accused of deceit in report on N. Korea
At a sensitive time when the United States is trying to build a consensus on North Korea, South Koreans are in a furor over allegations that Washington hyped intelligence about the North's nuclear activities.
And finally, that nagging WMD-lies scandal, and why Congressional righties are breaking their promise to investigate
The Missing WMD Report
In mid-March, Roberts declared further investigation pointless. He noted that if his committee asked Bush officials whether they had overstated or mischaracterized prewar intelligence, they'd simply claim their statements had been based on "bum intelligence." Roberts remarked, "To go though that exercise, it seems to me, in a postelection environment, wedidn'tt see how we could do that and achieve any possible progress. I think everybody pretty well gets it."
Gets what, precisely? The evidence is strong that Bush and his aides overstated the overstated intelligence. One example: Bush claimed that Iraq possessed stockpiles of biological weapons, yet the CIA reported only that Saddam had an active biological weapons R&D program. (It turns out he had neither stockpiles nor an active program.)
Instead of talking about all of this stuff -- which notably doesn't include much about Tom DeLay
, who has been cowering behind Terri Schiavo all week, you've been treated to seven days now of back-to-back extreme close up footage of this poor woman's inert stare. DeLay even had the audacity to link
Ms. Schiavo's tragedy to his own growing ethical scandals, denouncing a 'war against conservatism' that somehow encompasses both.
It's exploitative madness of the worst kind; but watching the Fox News Channel this morning, with captions like "Terri's Fight" and "Schiavo Struggle" about to burn permanently into my projection-screen TV, it's clear that the benefactors of this misdirection are getting lots of help.
President George W. Bush's approval rating is now at 45%, according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted March 21-23. This is the lowest such rating Bush has received since taking office . . .
NY Times, 3/23/05
Among them was Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma and a family practice doctor, who said in an interview, 'I don't think you have to examine her. All you have to do is look at her on TV. Any doctor with any conscience can look at her and know that she does not have a terminal disease and know that she has some function.'
Tulsa World, 7/20/98:
[In] an interview after [Coburn]'s panel appearance, he conceded the issue of caring for a terminally ill patient brings with it complex questions and is not always simple. For example, under certain circumstances when there is no hope of recovery, he said physicians should have the option of withholding nutrients and water from a dying patient. Coburn said he has done that in the past. 'If somebody does not want a feeding tube, I won't put a feeding tube down,' he said.
..metastizes to Florida
Republicans on the House Choice and Innovation Committee voted along party lines Tuesday to pass a bill that aims to stamp out â€œleftist totalitarianismâ€? by â€œdictator professorsâ€? in the classrooms of Floridaâ€™s universities.
Of course it's worse -- this is equally about forcing state-funded universities to teach Creationism...
...Professors would also be advised to teach alternative â€œserious academic theoriesâ€? that may disagree with their personal views.
No wonder Bush approval down to 45%
, and voters identifying themselves as Dems skyrocketing... citizens will not give up the rights that make them Americans...
Glen Justice of the NYT
takes a look:
The commission, which received more than 100,000 comments on an unrelated ruling last year, is expecting another barrage on the Internet regulation as advocates answer the questions posed in the document.
The proposal suggests extending campaign finance rules that cover advertising in other media like television to cover Internet advertising as well, meaning, for example, that advertisements could not be bought using unlimited "soft money" contributions in many cases.
But it also proposes exemptions for political activity conducted by individual advocates, as well as for Web sites that carry news articles, commentary and editorial content. There are also proposed exemptions for state political parties.
Other provisions seem to indicate that the panel might be leaning away from heavy regulations on most "bloggers," whose online commentary played a major role in last year's election.
It's teacher contract negotiation time again in Denver, and negotiators have reached an impasse. It's not looking good for the teachers.
Yesterday 1,000 teachers
went down to DPS HQ at 900 Grant to express their frustration with a chintzy .1% raise with small step increases; disappearing planning time; large class size; and what is widely perceived as a lack of respect.
While it might look like a raise to outsiders, being married to a teacher, I happen to know otherwise. To provide health care coverage for our healthy family of four, every month $910 is taken out of his paycheck to go to Pacificare. And since Pacificare is raising its rates by 10% for next year, we'll be paying over $1000 a month for health care--almost 40% of his take-home pay! We can kiss that "raise" goodbye; it seems like a salary reduction in that context.
While that would seem like purely a labor relations issue, it's not. We keep saying that recruiting and retaining teachers is the key to quality education, and virtually all the research supports it. But when salary and benefits are not competitive with other industries, we end up with two types of teachers: unremarkable employees who put in their time because they don't have other options, and the gotta-save-the-world-types who are willing to put up with substandard compensation because the vow of poverty thing works for them.
So if we want kids to have the best teachers in every classroom instead in just a few, we must attract good teachers. If we're going to attract numbers of good teachers, we must pay them well. Period.
Why is planning time a big deal? Charlie's official workday is 7:30 AM to 3:30 PM, but he's usually there by 6:30 AM and stays later than 3:30 PM. Why? Because you can't possibly grade papers, gather activity materials, supervise kids to and from the bus, prepare lessons for kids from pre-reading to a 6th grade reading level, call parents, conference privately with students, meet with the special ed team and everything else a teacher has to do during the day. It's not humanly possible. Having student-taught in DPS myself, I can confirm this. When I wasn't getting away from school before 6 PM to be with my 2-year old, I knew teaching was an almost-impossible profession for a mother of small children.
Planning time is what separates great teaching from just-getting-through-the-day. Planning time determines whether there are interesting, engaging activities that stimulate curiosity and learning in a classroom, or filling out worksheets dominates the day. Planning time is when teachers grade papers and assess performance so they can figure out what each kid needs to get to the next level. Let's be honest--it makes the difference in whether or not students are receiving a good education or a mediocre to poor one.
The class size issue is also one that gets to good teaching and good learning. It's not rocket science...when your kid is competing for teacher attention with 35 other kids, it's pretty much a "take a number" situation. When class size is smaller, there are more opportunities for student-teacher interaction, helping to identify areas of need and allowing a little extra attention to address that need.
The various reform committees and task forces have recommended smaller classes: As West High School English teacher Gabe DeMola made a good point, saying DPS' "...attitude hurts me. Increasing class sizes and increasing workloads, it's all contrary to the reform."
Respect encompasses all of these issues--pay, planning time and class size, because these form the foundation on whether or not teachers have the kind of environment conducive to optimally practicing their profession. But it also means having a seat at the table when curriculum decisions are made and budget decisions are weighed. And most teachers agree that the what and how to teach changes of late have been shoved down their throats, not approached in a professionally collaborative manner.
Superintendent Jerry Wartgow was quoted as saying, "There is a way to negotiate these issues." Okay, great. I'm not hearing any details, so run it all up the flagpole and we'll see if teachers salute. FYI, as a parent with two DPS students, my priorities include good teachers who are paid well and have adequate planning time and smaller class sizes.
School board member Theresa Pena is looking ahead to next year, pledging to create a more transparent budget process in the future, "We need to balance the budget of 2005-06 and then start immediately again for next year and get everyone at the table."
I really like the spirit of problem-solving and it's a great way to set up how to make it better in the future. At some point, I think the taxpayers are going to have to come to grips with the fact that public schools need more money to deal with all of these matters.
But what's going to happen for the upcoming school year?
, at least:
A committee investigating controversial University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill found enough questions about his research and whether he misrepresented his Native American heritage to refer the matter to the university's Standing Committee on Research Misconduct.
'Fair and Balanced' Fox News' John Gibson
Just to burnish my reputation as a bomb thrower, I think Jeb Bush should give serious thought to storming the Bastille.
By that I mean he should think about telling his cops to go over to Terri Schiavo's (search) hospice, go inside, put her on a gurney and load her into an ambulance. They could take her to a hospital, revive her, and reattach her feeding tube. It wouldn't save Terri exactly; she'd still be in the same rotten shape she was in before they disconnected the feeding tube.
But the point is, the temple of the law is so sacrosanct that an occasional chief executive cannot flaunt it once in a while, sort of drop his drawers on the courthouse steps and moon the judges, as a way to protest the complete disregard courts and judges have shown here, in this case, for facts outside the law.
All channels in Rove lock-step, blazing away with tyranny and hate...
While Bush was quick to cut a day from one of his innumerable Texas holidays to grandstand about Schiavo, and his brother contemplates invading the hospice with the National Guard, note that both have been completely silent
about the second-worst massacre of schoolchildren in our history.
"From all over the world we are getting letters of condolence, the Red Cross has come, but the so-called Great White Father in Washington hasn't said or done a thing," said Clyde Bellecourt, a Chippewa Indian who is the founder and national director of the American Indian Movement here.
The court, without comment, refused to intervene after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals twice Wednesday turned down a plea from the parents, Bob and Mary Schindler.
And . . .
On another legal front, Florida Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer on Thursday denied a petition of the state Department of Children and Families -- and Gov. Jeb Bush -- to take Schiavo into state custody.
For those of you who know me, this is going to be shocking. But I'm gonna do it anyway.
I'm saying it loud and clear: Governor Owens, you're doing the right thing.
Gov. Owens and I typically agree on very little. I think he'd probably agree with my characterization of him as a rightie with very, very conservative views.
I'm more of a moderate-to-liberal progressive. Our opinions diverge on the environment, choice, health care policy, K-12 funding priorities and a lot of other things.
But he's taking a whole bunch of flak
for his position on a state budget compromise and I feel like I have to point out that his detractors on this are, well, crackpots.
Of course in this case, the battering Gov. Owens is taking is closer to friendly fire than conventional bipartisan warfare. It's Republicans like Senator John Evans, Senator Tom Wiens, Representative Joe Stengel and Independence Institute honcho Jon Caldera taking potshots at him.
But unfortunately for Gov. Owens, the criticism is no accident. So much for the Ronald Reagan Memorial Rule of Republicans: "Speak no ill of fellow Republicans."
As my old-style Republican dad used to say on issues of legislative policy, " If neither party is completely happy, then it's a good compromise for the people." In these days of lockstep Republican orthodoxy, he'd be kicked out of the party.
But then he was a pragmatist, not a dogmatist. Senator Ken Gordon, admittedly a Democrat, said "What brought (both parties) to the center was reality."
I agree. Without a compromise, deep and painful cuts are looming for basic government functions. A number of Senate Republicans understand this reality and got on board with the compromise
The Senate's top Republican, Mark Hillman has asked for a little Republican kumbaya on this issue, asking opponents to cool their jets, "What we owe the voters between now and November is an even-handed discussion of the choices that we are going to face."
Yeah, but the current naysayers are living in a la-la land based on distorted thinking. Their patron saint, D.C.-based uber-taxcutter Grover Norquist, thinks that military protection is the only truly legitimate government expenditure. I'm afraid they're going to skip the sing-a-long.
So at this point let me say "Go, Bill, go!" You take on your opponents in this thing and let them know that the rest of us actually expect government to invest in our common infrastructure and the state's future. Good luck to you.
Owens calls the plan - which would lift state spending limits for five years - "moderate." But several Republicans complain that it spends too much.
On Wednesday, Owens said he doesn't understand that because those same lawmakers voted for more expensive plans last year.
He swung hardest at House Minority Leader Joe Stengel, R-Littleton, who came out against the plan this week after saying last week he was happy with it.
The information superhighway beat the real highway
, for now at least:
Developer Ray Wells said Wednesday he was blindsided by the massive, online-organized opposition that led to the defeat of legislation he needed to move forward on his proposed Front Range Toll Road on the eastern plains. . . . Wells said he had never even heard the term "blog" before his highway became the topic of one at frontrangetollroad.blogspot.com. . . Another opponent quickly set up a Yahoo! Groups forum called NoSuperSlab, currently at 11 members. Then there is a Toll Road Elbert County Action Group online. . . "I didn't know what blogging was. It amazes me, being at my age," Wells said. "I've been in plenty of controversial proposals, and I've usually judged the tenor of things by watching the letters to the editor in the papers. There were no letters in the News or the Post about this."
... and how will they react
when it's all over in Florida??
Guess there's a difference
"This is a clash between the social conservatives and the process conservatives, and I would count myself a process conservative," said David Davenport of the Hoover Institute, a conservative research organization. "When a case like this has been heard by 19 judges in six courts and it's been appealed to the Supreme Court three times, the process has worked - even if it hasn't given the result that the social conservatives want. For Congress to step in really is a violation of federalism."
..."My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing," said Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut, one of five House Republicans who voted against the bill. "This couldn't be a more classic case of a state responsibility."
"This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy," Mr. Shays said. "There are going to be repercussions from this vote. There are a number of people who feel that the government is getting involved in their personal lives in a way that scares them."
...The Republican Party has long associated itself with limiting the power of the federal government over the states, though this is not the only time that party leaders have veered from that position. Most famously, in 2000, it persuaded the Supreme Court to overturn a Florida court ruling ordering a recount of the vote in the presidential election between Al Gore and George Bush.
The papers today are reporting that the Senate Republicans are in lockstep against the proposed smoking ban in public spaces despite support for the bill from CACI, the Colorado Restaurant Association, and nearly all the health and consumer advocates. In the Rocky, Senator Steve Johnson admits
his constituents are 61% in support but that he still intends to vote no. The Post cites
a report by Common Cause showing that Senate Minority Leader Mark Hillman Hillman received $2,000 from the tobacco industry between 1996 and 2002.
Coloradans want the ban, but the tobacco industry doesn't. And the question this all begs is - who are the Senate Republicans representing?
I hesitate to even write about the Schiavo case because it is so intensely, painfully private.
There are certain decisions that are really only meant to be made by the immediate people involved. Sacred ones like birth, marriage and death. More mundane ones like money matters.
These are the kinds of personal choices that government really needs to stay out of.
The Schiavo case is a tragedy for everyone involved--Terri herself, her husband Michael, parents Mr. and Mrs. Schindler, her siblings and her doctors. My heart breaks for every one of them.
The decision to withdraw life-support measures is traumatic. When my father, mother, sisters, doctor add I agreed it was time to remove my dad's ventilator after an unsuccessful 5-day attempt to restore a little strength to his emphysema-ravaged lungs, I thought I my grief would paralyze me forever.
But this is different. Ms. Schiavo was only 26 years old when she entered her current vegetative state; she's 41 years old today. I don't pretend to know what it must be like to be in their shoes.
I'm sure her parents' religious beliefs form the basis for their desire to keep her alive, even though the medical professionals say she is in permanent vegetative state...it's been 15 years already. But letting go of your loved ones is the hardest thing we do in this life.
Her husband waited and hoped for eight years before coming to the conclusion that it was time to let her go--that withdrawing life-support would be the most merciful thing to do. I happen to believe that her husband is telling the truth about the conversations he and his wife had about end-of-life decisions.
My husband and I have had many of them...I imagine most couples do. I have a living will and a medical power of attorney because I think that deciding how to die is an extention of how a person decides to live. Emotionally-speaking, not only is a permanent vegetative state not the way I want to live my life, but I also don't want to subject my loved ones to the torture of years of false hope and grief. Pragmatically, I'd really rather our limited health care dollars go toward others with a future.
But that's MY preference. My husband's end-of-life ideas are clear and I will respect them, if and when the time comes to make such decisions. Those are OUR decisions.
And that's the point. I'm still reeling over the Congress and the President involving themselves in such an obviously private matter. This family's pain is personal, not something to be paraded around for political gain. Shame on Congressman Tom Delay and all of his cynical colleagues looking to score a few points with the right-to-lifers at the expense of this family.
Crazy Davey wants you to do something about these liberal traitor academics.
But his campaign to pass an 'Academic Bill of Rights,' intended to protect the rights of budding Dittohead students to invoke Bill O'Reilly in response to anything they hear in class that makes them uncomfortable, has run aground
Maybe the altitude left him less able to determine fact from fiction
. Or maybe, as support in the legislature slipped away
and his gaggle of 'aggrieved students' suffered credibility breakdowns
of their own, the facts became less important than the need to keep telling the story
We've explained all this before, but it looks like next month's issue of The American Prospect
will give the Horowitz High Plains Skirmishes
a proper treatment
Horowitz has gotten probably the most mileage out of an anecdote about an
exam question asking students to â€œExplain why George Bush is a war criminal.â€?
There are, shall we say, certain
problems with that 2-year-old accusation, prompting an aggressive
correction yesterday from Horowitz. But this incident doesn't quite capture
how egregiously willing Horowitz has been to promote unproven allegations
against largely defenseless professors. For that, you've got to talk about
Oneida Meranto, who has taped evidence that a claim against her is
utterly false -- a fact that Horowitz has still not acknowledged.
Meranto is a political science professor at Denver's Metropolitan State
College and has received perhaps more grief at Horowitz's hands than any other
professor. After Horowitz spent large parts of September and October in Colorado
grooming and training student complainants, a student named George
Culpepper raised various charges against her at a hearing
held by Colorado Senate President John Andrews. Meranto contradicted him
in a Denver Post article, saying (in the Post's words) that he
"dropped her class because he hadn't done enough of the work and knew he
couldn't pass"; Culpepper then sought her dismissal, arguing she had violated
his privacy rights.
After Culpepper wrote an article
for Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com condemning "Leftist Professor" Meranto, she
began receiving death threats. A university investigation found in August 2004
that there was no basis to Culpepper's claims, although it criticized her for
the privacy violation. Then, two days into the '04-'05 school year, another
student, William R. Pierce, filed another grievance against her.
As The Chronicle of Higher Education reported, Meranto had begun taping
her lectures by then and easily disproved Pierce's complaint. By that time, of
course, Pierce had written
about it for FrontPageMag.com and raised it at yet another Andrews state
senate hearing. Horowitz staffer Sara Dogan wrote a lengthy rebuttal
to the Chronicle's story well after the tape had come to light, and
managed not to mention this rather important point (not to mention the claim
in Metro State's newspaper that Culpepper bragged of planting a student in
Meranto's class). In an interview just last week, Horowitz said to me that
"[Meranto] was entirely the aggressor."
So when Horowitz "apologize[s] for not having fully checked and corrected"
the "war criminal" story, be sure that that's the rule, not the exception.
Indeed, Dogan told me that they "respond to all [complaints] and suggest
advice," making no mention of verifying the charges they spread as far as
they can. But since when has accuracy been a prerequisite for a witch hunt?
Crazy Davey blew out the last tiny shred of credibility left clinging to his putrefied conscience last week.
for the product of a liberal arts education?
Dunkley is the assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Northern Colorado who was accused by a student of instructing his class in 2003 to write an essay explaining "why George Bush is a war criminal." As the story goes, the student instead wrote an essay explaining why Saddam Hussein is war criminal, and Dunkley failed her.
The story gained national attention when conservative author and speaker David Horowitz began reporting the anecdote
while promoting his Academic Bill of Rights, which claims to protect students from politically coercive instructors.
I heard it out of his own mouth. A year and a half later, we learn that there's a small problem
"The nice thing about being ignorant of the facts is you can't be held accountable," Dunkley said.
The facts, Dunkley said, are as follows: He spoke to the student in July 2003, before she filed an appeal, and the student knew her grade. The student's grade was "exceedingly above average," not an F. He destroyed her answer sheet along with everyone else's when he was convinced the matter was over. That was a mistake, not malice. He got copies of the questions from three former students to present for the student's appeal.
His brother is a police chief. His father is a retired major in the police force. His son graduated from the Air Force Academy. And, in case you're wondering, "I'm a registered Republican and a carnivore."
He said he could have told Horowitz these things, but he never called...
Horowitz's shrill tirades against 'discrimination' by liberal faculty members reached a fever pitch
here in Colorado, as he aggressively sought out examples to parade before the legislature in support of ABOR. As shady tactics were exposed, and specious complaints began to be dismissed by college administrations, that aggression turned to sweaty, bug-eyed desperation.
Next: Davey's Colorado comeuppance
Anne Imse at the Rocky
reports that some folks didn't have as easy a time at yesterday's Bushprez Social Security road show
as the wife and I did.
"We went in and sat down, and a half-hour later we were escorted out
," said Alex Young, 25, who is involved in an anti-Bush group known as the Denver Progressives
. The group has a Web site and has protested Bush appearances in the past.
"They definitely seemed to know who we were," Young said. "They have this pretense of having a conversation about Social Security, but they're very selective about who they let in. They didn't say you have to be a registered Republican to get a ticket."
Well, you didn't have to be. I got one. Maybe it was a matter of being on the right clipboard. Or maybe these guys should have sent an email to thousands of people
beforehand declaring their intentions.
Some conscious decision on the part of the organizers was almost certainly responsible for our being allowed to stay
, given last week's interaction
with Beauprez's office. An Auraria College Republican who recognized me on sight as trouble worriedly brought staffers over to where we were sitting. They talked for a moment, pointing at me, then decided to leave us alone.
It's clear that the normal faithful-only policy
at these events was rendered much more complicated when word leaked on public availability of the tickets. Rather than excluding whole groups out of hand, they were forced under threat of a media lambasting to be careful who they pushed around.
A sad statement by itself, given that access to the President on such important matters by his constituents should not be a politically charged question of 'juice.'
Today: Bushprez meets the faithful
, in a totally dissent-free
Refuting David Horowitz
, letting the victims choose
, and the Glenwood Post-Independent
on migrant labor realities
Plus: righties stumble
big-time on Schiavo, more FBI accusations of torture at Gitmo
, and why John Bolton
is the wrong man, wrong place, wrong time.
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Noteworthy: even though Congressman Beauprez administered the distribution of the public tickets to the event, sent an email warmly expressing his support for Social Security privatization and encouraging the faithful to attend, he was practically invisible this afternoon. I got a couple choice photos of the back of his head, and he never once appeared onstage.
Bush mentioned him, of course, but only as part of a long list of GOP minor leaguers like Joe Stengel and Mark Hillman. I'm thinking snub -- maybe because Beauprez's support for this scheme is a bit of a tough subject
Since the President was running a little late, Governor Owens went on for a couple of minutes to warm up the crowd. And as much as they try, Social Security reform just doesn't
get your average soccer mom's blood flowing. So we got Owens' best '9/11-American President-exporting democracy' speech. And the crowd went wild.
I was waiting for everybody to hold hands and pray for Terri Schiavo
, but it looks like the advance men checked the polls
When John McCain got his turn, he took a moment to explain that while Social Security was
the topic tonight, he felt obligated to tell us a little story about 9/11, our American President, and how awesome it was to be exporting democracy. And the crowd went wild.
It occured to me that these people think they can sell just about anything -- Prima Nocte
, whatever -- if they tell a 9/11 story before the pitch.
Then came about half an hour of dumbed-down White House Social Security privatization talking points. Go to the website
and read them, and spare yourself from ever having to sit through one of these.
After you do, go get some facts
, and remind yourself why 65% of Americans aren't buying.
After the show ended, the wife and I headed straight for the exit -- and stood there for forty minutes until the Secret Service decided it was okay for everyone to leave. As the suits around me grew more and more exasperated, I made a joke about how these are Republicans
, damn it, and they don't take well to this sort of commie bread line. It was well received.
I'm happy to report that despite a well-established track record of denying access
to to anyone other than party loyalists, the Bushprez people didn't give us any trouble. That's commendable, even though the interaction-free format of the show didn't leave them with alot to worry about. If you've ever wanted to know what one side 'conversating' sounds like, this was pretty much it.
Perhaps letting thousands of our friends know
where to get tickets last Friday convinced them of the error of their ways. Everybody behaved themselves very well, once again proving how silly the righties look with all this invitation-only cloistering.
During the hour or so we waited for the President to arrive, we had lots of time to ponder fear-inspiring visuals like this one:
Sorry about the blur -- I was in a nosebleed seat, and that's the limit of my zoom. But I can't help wondering what that chart would look like with the estimated $2 trillion
they'll have to borrow to offset the diversion
of this money into "private accounts." And that's just to cover the first 10 years.
Oh, look: their graph doesn't go that far
With that in mind, it's a good thing the President had Bill Owens, John McCain, and 9/11
. I'll explain.
Next: the belly of the beast
Today was Bushprez Social Security road show
day. I have lots of pictures.
First and foremost, no blocks-long Secret Service line should ever be without these guys. The Billionaires for Bush can be reliably counted on, you know, to keep it real.
The funny part was how some Bushgoers didn't think it was a joke
Next: Hangar One
Looks like the Palm Sunday memo
Americans broadly and strongly disapprove
of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, with sizable majorities saying Congress is overstepping its bounds for political gain.
The public, by 63 percent-28 percent, supports the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, and by a 25-point margin opposes a law mandating federal review of her case. Congress passed such legislation and President Bush signed it early today.
That legislative action is distinctly unpopular: Not only do 60 percent oppose it, more -- 70 percent -- call it inappropriate for Congress to get involved in this way. And by a lopsided 67 percent-19 percent, most think the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles involved...
President Bush's "Social Security Skulduggery: Provoking Privatization" tour will stop in Colorado today, joined by Congressman Beauprez and hundreds of cheering supporters.
Of course, in an administration that guarantees unadulterated message delivery via generous cash payments to columnists and in-house production of bogus news stories for local TV stations, these supporters are all hand-selected Republican donors and voters.
Footage of privatization enthusiasts attending the event notwithstanding, 59% of Americans oppose
privatizing Social Security, according to a recent Newsweek poll. I haven't seen any Colorado-specific numbers, but I imagine they're no different. We aren't buying it.
Noted Wall Street Journal columnist Jeff D. Opdyke isn't necessarily buying it, either. In yesterday's "Privatizing Social Security: A Mom's Tale," he details the plight of his own mother. Despite numerous attempts to offer financial coaching, she doesn't really understand money and investing.
His mom had a 401(k) at one point. But after tapping into it for various "necessary" expenses, coupled with the interest and penalties incurred for early account withdrawal, it's completely gone.
A back injury has prevented her from working for several years, during which she has received a monthly disability payment. Ignoring her son's advice, she recently accepted a lump sum distribution of $65,000 in lieu of monthly payments. Backlogged medical bills, a dental procedure, a charitable gift and a vacation later, she is broke again.
So Social Security is the only thing that's going to keep his mom afloat.
And here's the thing. Despite the fact that it's all she has left, she admits that if she had a Social Security private account, she might try to access it to pay off bills.
It's not necessarily that people like Opdyke's mother aren't smart. But when competing with immediate pressures like jobs, children, housework, extended family obligations, existing bills, volunteer work and everything else, long-term financial planning is pushed to the back burner. Especially when lacking the necessary skills and experience.
Hey, if people want to save money for retirement, more power to them. In fact, I think it's a great idea. My husband and I have modest investments for that purpose. Between his pension and our investments, we hope to be able to maintain a similar middle-income lifestyle after we retire.
But Social Security is different. It's the safety net that provides the most basic of food and shelter to the elderly--it's what prevents them from destitution.
Opdyke's recommendation? "...Ironclad safeguards to protect the untutored and undisciplined from ruining their retirement years...prevent people from accessing their Social Security money until retirement, despite the fact that it will be legally in their name."
My recommendation? Find a solution that puts the "security" back into Social Security. This is not about making great profits, but about providing a basic level of dignity to Americans in their twilight years.
So don't think those Bush-idolizing sign-wavers you might see on the news tonight represent most of us. Because this time, they're not going to succeed at selling fiction as truth. We're opposed to Social Security privatization, and no cheesy PR offensive is going to change our minds.
Today's highlights: CBMS back in court
, squaring the math from TABOR
to the tobacco tax
, and the pollution threat
to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Plus: the skeletons in John Negroponte's closet
, more revelations
about our "allies" in Pakistan, the Red Sox and torture
, and the Los Angeles Times
on the Midnight Schiavo coup
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
A number of our subscribers have responded to us about the Bushprez Social Security road show
tomorrow. Some can't make it due to the tiny sliver of notice provided, others are a little concerned about the prospect of a wasted trip
And some will be there.
Several noted how the limited press notice portrayed access to the event as 'invitation-only,' when in fact tickets were distributed to the public
via Congressman Beauprez's office.
Quite a few subscribers responded to our requests for feedback on Social Security privatization, and below (extended entry
) are a few short ones. I'll print all them up and take them with me tomorrow...
reports on what the depravity is really all about:
The Washington Post said the case would excite the party's anti-abortion base and put pressure on Sen. Bill Nelson a Florida Democrat, who faces re-election next year.
Jarvis points out that libertarians are just as outraged
at this trampling on rights as are progressives.
And, as Atrios reports, beware the precedent
One element of this Schiavo circus that hasn't yet gotten a lot of attention is the fact that we have a sitting member of Congress using his bully pulpit and media access to target and attack the character someone who is mostly a private citizen and who has not been accused of or convicted of any crime. I'm sure this isn't entirely without precedent, but the level of volume and personal vitriol which Tom DeLay has directed at Michael Schiavo should give us all pause, as should the fact that the media is treating it as a perfectly ordinary thing. It's one thing to have Harpy Grace flaying you on CNN, it's another thing when Congressman DeLay feels it's a part of his job description.
At this moment, members of Congress are hurriedly making their way back to Washington, to vote on a constitutionally dubious bill intended to apply to a single individual -- and as the right, tacitly assisted by the media puts it, "save her life."
Except that she's already dead. Yes, I've seen the 10 second video clips, too.
Less widely known are four hours of images
, taped in summer 2002, of Schiavo's inert stare from her hospice bed. They more accurately show the Pinellas Park woman, argue some doctors and Michael Schiavo, who says his wife is brain-dead and should die in dignity after 15 years in what doctors term a persistent vegetative state.
George Greer, a Pasco-Pinellas circuit judge, ruled the tapes fail to prove Terri Schiavo's brain still works...
And then of course there's this poor husband, who has insisted for years that his wife would have never wanted this
, and whose legal right
to decide these matters has been repeatedly trampled on by opportunistic, grandstanding politicians.
I never wanted Terri to die. I still don't. After more than seven years of desperately searching for a cure for Terri, the death of my own mother helped me realize that I was fooling myself. More important, I was hiding behind my hope, and selfishly ignoring Terri's wishes. I wanted my wife to be with me so much that I denied her true condition.
Terri told me on several occasions before this happened that she would not want to live in her current condition. If we had been older, I am sure she would have signed a living will making it clear that she did not [want] to be kept alive on tubes and machines. She never had the chance.
This isn't even really a euthanasia question, per se
, since she has been ruled brain-dead. The guardian's decision on whether to keep someone alive under these circumstances is routinely carried out all over the country, usually in a way that preserves their dignity and privacy.
Enter the 109th Congress
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) disagreed. "Now is the time for us to act," he said on the Senate floor today. "Terri deserves it."
In a memo distributed only to Republican senators, the Schiavo case was characterized as "a great political issue
" that could pay dividends with Christian conservatives, whose support is essential in midterm elections such as those coming up in 2006.
An unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators, said the debate over Schiavo would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is up for reelection next year and is potentially vulnerable in a state President Bush won last year...
In the end, it's just another lesson on how low the right will go in order to pander to their uninformed, hysterical "Cookie Bandit
I can't help but wonder how many conservatives are being forced to relive their own anguished decision to pull the plug on a loved one today...
Will mainstream mediaignore this
, as they did the WMD lies?
In an effort to increase pressure on North Korea, the Bush administration told its Asian allies in briefings earlier this year that Pyongyang had exported nuclear material to Libya. That was a significant new charge, the first allegation that North Korea was helping to create a new nuclear weapons state.
But that is not what U.S. intelligence reported, according to two officials with detailed knowledge of the transaction. North Korea, according to the intelligence, had supplied uranium hexafluoride -- which can be enriched to weapons-grade uranium -- to Pakistan. It was Pakistan, a key U.S. ally with its own nuclear arsenal, that sold the material to Libya. The U.S. government had no evidence, the officials said, that North Korea knew of the second transaction.
Pakistan's role as both the buyer and the seller was concealed to cover up the part played by Washington's partner in the hunt for al Qaeda leaders, according to the officials, who discussed the issue on the condition of anonymity. In addition, a North Korea-Pakistan transfer would not have been news to the U.S. allies, which have known of such transfers for years and viewed them as a business matter between sovereign states.
The same folks
who opposed all the progress you approved last November. The ones who told you FasTracks was a 'boondoggle,' that renewable energy was 'bad for the environment.' The same people who insist today while schools and government buildings fall apart, and bright orange posters greet visitors to county courts and DMVs warning of long lines due to staffing cuts, that the state somehow has too much of your money.
Now that a bipartisan agreement
has been reached to take on this problem (at least in the short term), the Independence Institute
and their national handlers would seem to be left without a mainstream voice in the debate. Regardless of what reactionary ideologues like Grover Norquist
(or the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal
) would have the rest of the country believe, Colorado's experiment with curtailing the public sector out of self-serving 'principle' has met with unqualified disaster since the recession of 2001.
But that's not going to stop them from trying. Remember, Grover Norquist cares nothing for Colorado's fiscal crisis, or how it impacts your quality of life, your kid's education, et cetera. Arguing past the vague smokescreens they offer, you get to the heart of the matter pretty quickly: they don't believe in the public sector. They don't believe in the basic social services and programs that have protected needy Americans for decades, quantifiably raising the standard of living not just for those receiving assistance, but everybody else as well
Grover Norquist doesn't like to talk about it much, but in the end he'll tell you that there are 'winners and losers' in society, and that's just the way it is. And there shouldn't be any safety nets, because they're a disincentive to productivity.
It's not a pleasant subject -- extolling the 'deterrent value' of a burgeoning homeless population
, for example -- but nobody ever accused these people of being nice. The 19th century Social Darwinist tradition they descend from isn't very nice, either; even if these days it's got a smiley Armstrong Williams
face on it.
Americans have been through this before, and have seen the folly of it play out in the form of unearned hardship for millions of people -- but 1929 was a long time ago.
Through Norquist's local mouthpieces, like Caldara and former state Senate President John Andrews, this viewpoint manifests as opposition to any public program, because they result in a de facto "redistribution of wealth." Public transportation takes tax revenue from everybody and builds train systems that 'only the poor will ride, because every American who can drive drives.'
And on the subject of TABOR reform, which concerns itself in turn with all these other public health, safety, and development issues taken for granted
by the vast majority of the people? Despite the clear mandate expressed by Colorado voters in sweeping the right wing from legislative power last November, Norquist wasted no time this week viciously attacking Governor Owens:
"It's only going to get worse," Norquist said
. "If he really runs out and tries to sell this, he's going to end his career as a tax- and-spend advocate."
Frankly, Owens' response to Norquist is (deep breath) commendable beyond hope:
"I don't work for Grover Norquist, and Grover Norquist does not get to define for Colorado who is a conservative or not," Owens said.
"Based on personal conversations with Grover Norquist, he doesn't understand the TABOR amendment as well as I do," he said. "When I took an oath to the people of Colorado, it was to the people of Colorado, it was not to Grover Norquist."
Laundry list of other disagreements
with the Governor notwithstanding, this almost brings a tear to my eye. Kumbaya.
It's tough to speculate on what caused this change of heart, but it must have had something to do with the Governor realizing he had no reason to remain accountable to these heedless ideological throwbacks. The grateful people of Colorado, to whom he plans to entrust his legacy in January of 2007, won't forget it.
Most of you know about the fairly explicit faithful-only policy
that has governed not only the recent "town hall" events pushing Social Security privatization
, but also the entire Bush 2004 campaign
, Bush's carefully scripted press events abroad
, et cetera.
Early last month, this highly questionable and undemocratic policy was thrown into sharp relief up in Fargo:
The Fargo Forum reported that a city commissioner, a liberal radio producer, a deputy Democratic campaign manager and a number of university professors were among more than 40 area residents who were barred from attending
the Bush event. Their names were on a list supplied to workers at two ticket distribution sites.
The "Bush blacklist" is "frightening," Tom Athans, chief executive of Democracy Radio, said after learning that a producer for the liberal "Ed Schultz Show" was among those barred. "To blacklist a local citizen because he produces a radio program at odds with the political agenda of the White House is dangerous for democracy."
Apparently, nobody organizing the event knew anything about the list afterwards:
The list was supplied to workers
at the two Fargo distribution sites, along with tickets and other forms citizens were asked to fill out, The Forum reported.
The list includes critics of Bush or the war in Iraq. It includes two high school students, a librarian, a deputy Democratic campaign manager and a number of university professors.
White House spokesman Jim Morrell and Don Larson, a spokesman for Gov. John Hoeven's office, said they knew nothing about a list of people barred from the speech...
Every time this happens, a series of vague, local denials are issued. The problem is, you can only get away with that so many times -- and Howard Dean finally called them on it a couple of weeks ago:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said yesterday that President Bush's policy of excluding non-Republicans
from town-hall meetings on Social Security reform was "not an American thing to do."
At the press conference, House Democratic leaders said they were most exercised about Bush's town-hall meetings, which are open only to Republican voters and party activists.
"We continue to hold hundreds of town-hall meetings that are open to all Americans. ... We have honest discussions," said Rep. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), criticizing Bush's most recent event, last Friday in Westfield, N.J., which was open only to Republicans.
Monday's Bush/Beauprez event
on Social Security privatization represents another test of the commitment of the President, and in turn the Congressman, to the democratic ideals they claim to champion. They've lost sight of the obvious truth: if their arguments are defensible, they have nothing to fear
from a candid discussion.
Or maybe that's the problem
I, for one, am hoping for a pleasant afternoon showing my kid around the air museum, in addition to letting him hear the plan for his
Social Security from The Man himself. We'll be on our best behavior -- I'm even going to wear a tie.
And I have a really good digital camera.
See you there
Conservatives in Washington are all over the steroid scandal in baseball. They're making a big show of things, holding hearings
, making public statements. Meanwhile, the nation's 1,100 coal-burning power plants
continue to get away with burning coal illegally:
They were supposed to install controls over fifteen years ago. The Clinton administration was prosecuting 75 of the worst of those plants. But this industry gave $48 million to President Bush during the 2000 campaign, and they've contributed $58 million since.
Those power plants are the "principal source of ozone and particulates in our air" and mercury pollution
which is causing a health crisis in our country:
We know that one out of every six American women of childbearing years now has so much mercury in her womb that her children are at risk for a grim inventory of diseases: cognitive impairment; mental retardation; autism; blindness; kidney, liver or heart disease. . . There are 630,000 children born in this country every year who have been exposed to dangerous levels of mercury in the womb.
But, yeah, we should focus on steroids.
The Phelps klan
made their tour through Colorado Springs last Friday
, and they had such a great time they're coming back for more
After picketing Palmer High School last Friday, the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church plans to return to Colorado Springs next week to protest Vice Mayor Richard Skorman.
The Topeka, Kan.-based group led by the Rev. Fred Phelps also will picket City Hall and the Gay and Lesbian Fund on Thursday.
Then, on April 30, the church will protest what it claims are the pro-gay policies of the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family
Ah yes, the 'pro-gay' Focus on the Family
. Don't be fooled -- these people may be remorseless bigots of the most outrageous kind, but they're not stupid. They understand their fringe position in this debate -- and building FOTF into a 'moderate' voice is good strategy for the common goal. Lyndon LaRouche
learned that trick years ago.
Dobson and Phelps want the same thing: from there, it's just a question of verbage
See, they'll give 'em to anyone. I even got one for the wife, who wasn't with me. How trusting of them.
Of course, actual admission
on Monday is liable to be a different story...
Please note that the back says "it is a violation of Federal law to attempt to gain admission to this event by duplicating or reproducing this ticket."
So don't do anything silly -- just go get your own
, today or tomorrow between 9AM and 6PM, 4251 Kipling St., #370.
Congressman Bob Beauprez and President Bush are bringing their road show to privatize Social Security to Denver. Please attend and invite your friends:
PICK UP TICKETS TODAY - FRIDAY, MARCH 18TH beginning at 12:00 noon
(bring photo ID)
Where: Congressman Bob Beauprez's Office
4251 Kipling Street, STE 370
When: the road show is this Monday, March 21st
Doors open at 2:30pm
Where: Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum
7711 East Academy Boulevard, Lowry
(From Quebec Street: turn east on 1st Ave., go .25 miles and turn
right onto Roslyn Street. Roslyn then curves around to the left and becomes Academy Blvd.)
Just when I had concluded that a state budget compromise was completely out of the question, lawmakers and the Governor came together and got a deal done
Sometimes it's good to be wrong.
While I would have like to have seen a longer-term solution, the reported plan will work for now. Congratulations to all of the players who sat at the table and kept negotiating until they found something that all sides could accept, including Governor Owens, who was on the receiving end of much nudging here from yours truly.
Now it's on to the November ballot. The bipartisan measure will be supported by the Chamber of Commerce because the business community understands that fiscal conservatism does not include the destruction of everything reasonable people hold dear--like good schools, excellent universities, decent health care and passable roads.
In fact, the health of our economy depends on these things. Businesses, generally run by reasonable people, don't want to locate where schools, health care and roads are bad.
If passed, the state will devote funds slated for tax refunds to build roads, bolster Medicaid and improve K-12 and higher education.
Of course, there are the wing-nuts out there who are in complete denial about our budget woes and are opposing this reasonable solution.
There's TABOR author Douglas Bruce, who is in denial about our budget woes, "They don't even need $3 more than the very generous growth formula that they've had now." Yeah, tell that to the 700,000 Coloradans without health insurance
And don't forget Senator Jim Dyer of Centennial, "This is a fundamental violation of the trust we have with the taxpayers" (What a hypocrite talking about trust! Dyer is a guy who was found guilty--twice--of civil conspiracy
in tricking an 83-year old lady with Alzheimer's into quit-claiming her house to him for ten bucks!).
Luckily, they're on the lunatic fringe; I don't think voters will agree with them.
Not to say that the campaign is going to be an easy one. But leaders on both sides of the aisle said they would work together to pass it. And the business community on board sure helps.
Here's another reason to celebrate: This budget breakthrough could be a glimpse of future bipartisan cooperation on other issues. Imagine a legislature working together for the good of Colorado...
It's almost enough to make me giddy!
Today's highlights: Kumbaya gets official
, the haters will be back
, Davey Horowitz
jumps off the deep end, and thank God for the pee-bomb bill
revolts against Bush, Dems
prepare for war on the 'nuclear option,' and Condi praises another postponed democracy
And Krugman takes on the Ugly American World Bank
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
The Denver Post
and Greeley Tribune
-- only ten days behind the blogosphere
Okay, that was gratuitous.
Welcome anyway, belated David Horowitz Googlers, and learn everything you ever needed to know about what a joke Crazy Davey has made of himself in Colorado right here
somebody break out the soundtrack to Hair
. But only the happy songs. And not the one about pot
Post / Glen Martin
From left, Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver; Gov. Bill Owens; and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, discuss a plan to fix Colorado's budget crisis today at the Capitol in Denver.
It's true that we're not always the most forgiving voice in the debate (I prefer the term 'unapologetic'). Stridency often holds hands with urgency
; and for the record, I'm not sorry.
Having said that, today could mark the beginning of a long, collective sigh of relief for TABOR-beleagured Coloradoans -- and we appear to have both sides of the aisle
to thank for it.
Lawmakers said today they have reached a tentative agreement
with Gov. Bill Owens on a plan to fix Colorado's budget crisis, a dramatic step that could end months of partisan bickering over what both parties say is the most pressing issue in the state.
Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, said the agreement would allow the state to rebound from years of revenue shortfalls that have forced more than $2 billion in spending cuts and left some state services warning of major problems.
had the scoop first, of course:
The accord, which requires voter approval in November, is a major milestone
that incorporates aspects of Democratic and Republican proposals.
Lawmakers and Owens have been negotiating over how to ask taxpayers to let the government keep more money to help the state recover from the recent recession. Those talks often came close before falling apart.
Even though Joe Stengel may yet hold out on misguided principle
, and Jon Caldara
is likely to throw a fit -- not to mention what the Wall Street Journal
is likely to do to the Governor -- the rest of us are delighted to see this newfound consensus.
is what Colorado's voters mandated last November.
Move along, citizen. Nothing to see here.
A party-line vote Wednesday defeated Rep. Bennie Thompson's (D-2nd District) push to investigate the Bush administration's approval of a press pass for a conservative activist who became a daily fixture at White House press briefings.
Thompson, the House's top-ranked Democrat for homeland security, joined other leading Democrats to call for an inquiry into how James D. Guckert
, an online writer with ties to pornographic Web sites, joined the exclusive White House press corps
and gained access to an internal government intelligence memo.
Every committee Republican voted against Thompson's resolution of inquiry, and every Democrat present voted in favor. While the Web sites Guckert was associated with, using the pseudonym Jeff Gannon, including www.talonnews.com and www.hotmilitarystuds.com, have shut down since his identity became public, his case has sparked debate...
"This is no less serious than what my (Republican) colleagues thought the proceedings of the Clinton impeachment were for them," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). "I don't believe it can be answered through (White House) self-investigation."
Point of fact: www.hotmilitarystuds.com
appears to have been resurrected. I'm working up the courage to see if Guckert's still looking to hook up. I doubt it.
But with no blue dress/cigar/liberal
to swab DNA from
, Ken Starr and Henry Hyde just haven't got a case, it seems...
You know, it really would be alot easier if they didn't have to explain themselves to "the rabble."
Shaken by raucous protests at open "town hall"-style meetings last month, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio and other GOP leaders are urging lawmakers to hold lower-profile events this time.
A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll conducted late last month found that only 35% approve of Bush's handling of the issue.
This month, Republican leaders say they are chucking the open town-hall format. They plan to visit newspaper editorial boards and talk to constituents at Rotary Club lunches, senior citizen centers, chambers of commerce meetings and local businesses. In those settings, "there isn't an opportunity for it to disintegrate into something that's less desirable,"
says Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
Like an actual discussion
instead of a scripted photo-op
Sovereignty? Fuggedaboutit. Who holds the note to your house? Or the US House?
Foreigners held $1.96 trillion of the $4.43 trillion in U.S. debt that was publicly traded. Here are the countries with the largest holdings
, according to a monthly report from the Treasury Department:
Japan: $701.6 billion
Mainland China: $194.5 billion.
United Kingdom: $163.0 billion
Caribbean banking centers including the Bahamas and Bermuda: $92.5 billion
South Korea: $67.7 billion
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries: $64.7 billion
It's especially comforting to see how many hundreds of billions we're into the Chinese for. That would buy alot of Navy reconnaissance planes
I think knowing this should go really well with those flag-ribbon magnets for your SUV. Enjoy the loan, even though you might discover down the road that the terms
are a little 'sub-prime' --
Freedom: whatever Condoleeza Rice wants it to be.
Rice praises Pakistan democracy
She stressed that Pakistan is on a road toward democratic reforms "that would lead to free and fair elections in 2007." She didn't say anything about the controversy over whether the country's leader, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, should relinquish control of armed forces and enter the civilian political arena...
Probably didn't mention how he took power in a military coup either, or cancelled elections when it suited him...ah, never mind. Facts just get in the way with these people.
It's not exactly a newsflash that despite women making up about 20% of the troop force, the U.S. military has "female problems."
As in sexual harassment, rape and discrimination.
Here in Colorado, the newspapers have been filled with stories
detailing assaults and harassment of women cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
California's Sacramento Bee
has published a series of stories this month detailing sexual harassment of dozens of women soldiers by "male comrades-in-arms" while in the Iraq. Not surprisingly, many said the military hierarchy has not adequately addressed this problem.
Now we hear that the U.S. Army MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) Unit, the Iraq Multi-National Corps and Halliburton recently cosponsored a two-week travelling "show"
for soldiers in Iraq featuring an all-female group called "The Purrfect Angelz."
The name alone is enough to make any normal person sick.
Predictably, the photo
I saw featured four women scantily clothed in tiny red bikinis and black leather chaps, strutting their "stuff" provacatively.
The Purrfect Angelz reportedly were booked to "raise troop morale."
And whose morale, exactly, would that be? Certainly not the 100,000 women who have served in Iraq since combat began two years ago. I'm thinking that their reactions would range from annoyed to nauseated.
Personally, I think that the Angelz' quasi-pornographic show is generally degrading to women. But I'm not a complete prude--if that's the kind of thing an adult wants to view on his (or her) own time and dime, it's none of my business.
But it's deplorable to think that our taxpayer dollars are going to reinforce an already-out-of-control adolescent, frat-boy culture that exists in parts of the military. As former Navy Captain Lory Manning said, "Women in the military should not have to put up with this kind of thing."
Baghdad-stationed U.S. Air Force captain Sharon Kibiloski (speaking as "an outraged woman", not in her official capacity) is also not amused. "The show only appeals to men, and in my mind has the potential to increase sexual advances toward female soldiers afterward...to me, if the military really cared about sexual harassment, they would not sponsor such a show."
Look, this is not tough stuff to understand. We have a two-gender military now. It's time to deal with what that means.
In denying responsibility, Armed Forces Entertainment Air Force Master Sgt. John Martin claims he has never heard of the Purrfect Angelz, saying "The only thing we had that even remotely resembled that was "The Pinup Girls," and that was back in February of '04."
Guess what. They STILL don't "get it."
Gayla Lemke's "Hope Stones" caused quite a ruckus last month
, after Lakewood city officials demanded a particular one be removed from a public art exhibition because of its "anti-American" message.
Thank goodness for the ACLU.
But Lemke, an Air Force veteran, said she still has reservations
about the decision because it came only after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened a lawsuit.
"What I'm wondering is if they really learned something from this, if they were just doing it out of fear or if they truly realize what they did was wrong and that they made a mistake and misinterpreted the law as it relates to the First Amendment," she said.
No, they just wanted this little controversy to go away. But somewhere in there, one hopes conscience will remind these folks that purging the culture of all things 'unpatriotic' divorces them from the fundamental justification for American patriotism: freedom.
Today's highlights: the art of the deal
, Owens intervenes in the CBMS disaster months too late
, Davey Horowitz's vivid imagination
, and the Craig Daily Press
agrees: let the sun shine in
Plus: crying Wolfowitz
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
Take the good with the bad on that. Today, for example,
Rep. Joel Hefley
stood up against the rest of the Republican caucus Tuesday, when he was the only GOP congressman to vote with Democrats in a bid to tighten House ethics rules.
"I have been bothered for quite some time about the ethics rules changes in the House and the process that was used to change those rules at the beginning of this Congress," Hefley said in a statement. "As I have said previously, the ethics process in the House must be bipartisan and shouldn't be enforced by party-line votes."
Despite the fact that the oil companies don't even believe there is much oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
, the corporate-controlled Republicans have voted to open up ANWR for drilling.
To be clear, they voted to reject an amendment that would have removed the drilling proposal from next year's budget. But the effect is the same.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Michelle Dally
OWENS REFUSES TO DISCLOSE PAST
YEAR'S OUT OF STATE TRAVEL
Denver - The Governor doesn't want anyone to know where he's traveled this past year. And he's willing to circumvent Colorado's Open Records Act in order to keep his secret.
progressnowcolorado.org has made three separate Open Records requests in the past two months, each aimed at the same thing: to get a clear picture of how many out-of-state trips the Governor made this past year.
First open records request, dated January 12, 2005:
progressnowcolorado.org asked simply for the Governor's schedules - but we were told that the Governor's schedule is private except for his public appearances. The "public" schedules we were allowed to see only included in-state public appearances, usually accounting for about 4-5 hours per week.
Second open records request, dated February 15, 2005:
progressnowcolorado.org asked for any and all documents in which a taxpayer-paid employee was involved in out of state travel scheduling and arrangements. The Governor's office responded by only providing emails and phone records from the Governor's secretaries. The emails only went back six weeks and the phone records were redacted and only included incoming calls.
While the limited emails made it clear that the rest of the Governor's staff, including his Chief of Staff and Press staff, were involved in the out of state arrangements, records from their phone and email were not provided.
When asked if the Governor's chief of staff or press secretaries ever were involved in arranging meetings or press opportunities for out of state travel, the Governor's Chief Legal Counsel said, "Well, yes, I guess," and asked progressnowcolorado.org to make a third open records request.
Third open records request, dated March 7, 2005:
progressnowcolorado.org repeated its request for any and all documents related to taxpayer-paid employees who were involved in arrangements for out of state trips. In addition, because Owens' assistant legal counsel had indicated it was "no secret" where the Governor had traveled this past year, progressnowcolorado.org asked for a general list of all out of state trips the Governor had made in the past year. The Governor's office balked at this request as well, stating it would only list those trips in which the travel itself was paid for by taxpayer dollars.
Regardless of the time and effort taxpayer-paid staff had put into these out of state trips, the Governor's staff refused to provide any information about travel when the airfare was not taxpayer-paid.
"progressnowcolorado.org firmly believes that it is the right of all Colorado citizens to know how much of their taxpayer dollars were spent arranging and promoting Governor Owens on his national and international political tours," said Michael Huttner, Executive Director of progressnowcolorado.org. "What doesn't Governor Owens want us to know?"
The stonewalling is even more troubling given that this week is Sunshine Week, a week supposedly dedicated to the ideal of open and transparent governance.
progressnowcolorado.org, a grassroots organization which mission includes holding elected officials accountable, launched a "Where's Bill?" section of its homepage as they receive tips from on his whereabouts from public via e-mail at email@example.com or calls to their "Where's Bill?" hotline at 303-991-1900.
Available to Press: Copies of each Open Records Request and Governor's office responses. Records provided to date. Interviews with Executive Director Michael Huttner.
progressnowcolorado.org is a national, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization devoted to giving a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems. Our offices are located at 1536 Wynkoop Street, Denver Colorado. Executive Director: Michael Huttner - 303-931-4547.
The Bush administration has spent more than a quarter of a BILLION dollar--at least $254 million and maybe more--on producing TV propaganda.
During Bush's tenure, at least 20 federal agencies have contracted with PR firms to produce administration-friendly, media-ready pieces.
We're not talking about customary press releases here. We're talking fake news segments
taped by government agencies promoting the President's agenda.
These prepackaged TV news stories, "indistinguishable from news stories produced by private sector television news organizations" have aired on local TV stations across the country, generally without explaining that the government produced the tape, not legitimate journalists.
In producing this bogus "news," the administration is seeking to completely control the message and terms of debate. I guess they figure, "Why present an opposing viewpoint since ours is the only valid one anyway?"
It is nothing short of mind manipulation. And on the taxpayers' dime, too.
Coupled with the discovery that several columnists and commentators, like Armstrong Williams, have been on Bush's payroll to spin the "party line," I am reminded of George Orwell's 1984
If you've read it, you'll recognize the Bush administration as Big Brother, the only institution that knows right from wrong, and it's "public education" efforts as an exercise in "doublethink" to make all of us suckers buy their snake oil.
But I'm not buying. Believe it or not, the only thing holding the Bushies accountable to we the people is a free press--otherwise, they're free to deceive the public. Let's call this abuse of power and money what it is--an affront to democracy.
Wake up! Support an open and free press. If real journalists no longer hold these Machiavellis' feet to the fire, we'll all be speaking newspeak as members of the Oceania Party.
Today: Joel Hefley
vs. The Family, Joe Nacchio's tangled web
, CU College Republicans discover new lows
, and why drilling near Colorado nuclear test sites
is a bad idea
(hint: it's obvious).
Plus: A 'sabot' is a wooden shoe
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Straight out of Colorado Springs, comes a brilliant obstructionist strategy
on the budget crisis and TABOR:
Introduce 16 different budget tinkering measures for the November ball...that'll confuse those voters and cause them to give up in disgust at the ballot box.
Yup, that's just what the CS-based Colorado Club for Growth
with it's Jeffco partner, the Independence Institute, has done in the past week. And the outcome I described is just what they're hoping for.
Just who is this Colorado Club for Growth? Well, according to their website, they only have three board members, but they are far-right superstars: former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong, former U.S. Senate candidate Terry Considine and Bill Miller.
One of their irrational propositions is to freeze future spending regardless of inflation and population growth.
Geez, even TABOR allows for inflation and population growth and yet it has the state in a financial stranglehold.
Here's the deal: TABOR boosters and their brethren even farther to the right want to "starve the beast," meaning cut taxes until there are no government services left save the military.
As their patron saint Grover Norquist
has said, "I want to shrink government to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."
A homegrown Colorado wing-nut with the so-called Colorado Freedom Report
thinks the right-wing Independence Institute's recent report on TABOR is too leftie: "But don't these conservative/libertarian organizations recognize that there are some 'services' that the government ought not be providing, at all? We don't want efficient delivery of a fundamentally inappropriate service."
These folks aren't fiscal conservativ...they're kamikaze pilots hoping the government will end up in pile of smoking rubble.
They must live in some kind of la-la land of their own making--far, far away from the ordinary lives most of us lead. I mean, come on people--you need to come to grips that y'all are on the far edges of the outermost fringes.
You might not believe it, but most of us actually want good public schools, drivable roads and state parks.
We think the government is not a beast--rather, it's the way we support our present communities and invest in our future.
Thousands of former Qwest workers (disclosure: like me) are dancing in the streets. I've been waiting four years for this:
The Securities and Exchange Commission today accused former Qwest Communications CEO Joe Nacchio and six other executives with orchestrating a "massive financial fraud
" at the Denver-based telecommunications company that hid the true source of billions of dollars in revenue.
In lawsuits filed today, regulators blamed Qwest's problems on aggressive revenue and earnings targets set by Nacchio and others that created a "culture of fear" throughout the company...
To meet those targets, Qwest repeatedly and improperly booked immediate revenue from one-time sales of assets while falsely claiming to investors that the revenue was recurring, the SEC said.
Nacchio, Woodruff and Szeliga also allegedly caused the manipulation of revenue associated with Qwest Dex, a wholly owned subsidiary.
Not to mention he laid off tens of thousands of workers, compromising phone service throughout Qwest's technical monopoly region, while simultaneously pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars in what we always knew was looted revenue. Looted from shareholders, underserved customers, and employees put on the street.
This is no Martha Stewart-type impropriety -- Joe Nacchio took a vital piece of the Colorado economy, a massive public utility and career employer, and raped
it. Club Fed is too good for him.
Because you only know what you're told, after all.
Republican lawmakers tried unsuccessfully Monday to block a Democratic bill that could depoliticize
the official voter's guide on ballot issues.
Senate Bill 94 won preliminary approval from the full House.
The proposal arose from arguments that Republicans last year shaped the voter's guide to favor special interests when they were in the majority...
But Republicans argued Monday that...they should be allowed to debate the way the voter's guide is written as they have done in the past.
Last fall, Republicans were criticized for ordering changes to the blue book on the advice of industry groups that would have been affected by the proposed measures...
Besides, self-interested partisans,
Rep. Mark Larson, R-Cortez, sided with Democrats. He reminded his fellow Republicans that the Democrats, as members of the current majority party, would dominate the blue-book debate next fall unless SB 94 passed.
"One must consider that the Republicans had great success in authoring the language of the last blue book," he said afterward.
At least he's (ahem) being honest about it. Maybe letting the voters make up their own mind
is best, after all...
and friends are back, with the same song they were singing before you ousted them last November.
The Colorado Club for Growth and the Independence Institute filed 16 measures
related to state spending in the past week, including five on Friday.
The real story here is how they like TABOR -- they like what it's doing to our state. Our fiscal crisis is their lifelong ambition
. They oppose any attempt to change TABOR, even on points where there's bipartisan consensus that reform is necessary in order to avert disaster.
So they're getting creative.
Analysts say it's harder to pass any measure on a crowded ballot, which can confuse voters. So the more initiatives that make it to November, they say, the better the chance everything loses.
Works for them. Not to mention that some of their 'proposals' are outlandish, bark-at-the-moon lunacy that no sane person would ever endorse:
One of the group's proposals, filed Friday, would effectively stop the state budget from ever growing again, by forcing lawmakers to offset any spending increases with cuts somewhere else. Current rules allow spending to grow with inflation and population.
Laughable, ridiculous, but see in it
what they really want. They're not your friends. In fact, the best description I can come up with at the moment for them is anarchist subversives
bent on the financial overthrow of the government.
Perhaps we should check their files to ensure their 'loyalty oaths' are up to date?
Today's highlights: Norquistas pile on
, de-politicizing voter guides
, Joe Nacchio
is going down
, and the Durango Herald
on bipartisan arithmetic
Plus: Social Security privatization -- it's all over
but the shouting, while the administration defies the GAO on the grounds that paid propaganda
gits 'er done.
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Editor's note: William Safford is a student at Metro State.
The below e-mail was sent out this afternoon to an estimated 2000-4000 students, faculty and staff at the Metropolitan State College of Denver, Colorado. It concerns the suspiciously hasty appointment of an eleventh-hour candidate to the position of college President, following an exhaustive two-year search. Metro State
was the epicenter of last year's battle over David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights
, and is currently in the middle of a major legal battle
with its own faculty
The man in question, Dr. Robert Jordan of Eastern Washington University, has been at the center of an ongoing dispute over the cancellation of an appearance of Ward Churchill at his University, and has taken strong criticism for faculty contracts decisions that some say led to an 88 percent vote by the faculty to unionize. The sole opportunity, prior to his probable appointment on Wednesday of this week, for comment and questions by students, faculty and the press will come tomorrow, according to the schedule available here
Footnotes to the e-mail below provide links to further information on this issue. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions. Although I am the "Attorney General" of the Student Government Assembly on campus, I sent the e-mail as a concerned student, and not in any official capacity.
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A judge ruled Monday that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, saying the state could no longer justify limiting marriage to a man and a woman.
Read more in the extended entry or click here
President Bush's invasion of Iraq represented a dramatic shift of policy on the use of US military force. Pushed by neo-conservatives in his Administration
, Bush abandoned our long-standing policy of using force only when there is an "imminent threat" to us or one of our allies. He replaced that policy with the "Bush Doctrine"
of using preemptive force, arguing that if we waited to establish whether or not Sadaam presented an imminent threat, it would be too late.
Even then, well before fears that the Administration was fabricating evidence about Sadaam were confirmed, some were questioning the wisdom of shifting our policy on the use of force from "imminent threat" to "preemption." Those people were concerned about the example that would set for the rest of the world. How would our change in policy affect the conflict between India and Pakistan? China and Taiwan?
Howard Dean, of course, was one of those people. In a speech
in Iowa on February 17th, 2003 Dean said the following:
I believe that the President undercuts our long-term national security interests and the established international order when he seeks to replace decades of bipartisan consensus on the use of American force with a new doctrine justifying preemptive attacks against other nation states - not because of their current action or imminent threat, but to preempt a threat that could arise in the future. . . Our nation is the world's preeminent power. With this power comes great responsibility. Our actions are important in themselves, but also as a model for what we may expect - and demand - of other nations.
Now, we see what Dean was talking about. China's top legislative body has approved the use of force to prevent Taiwan from declaring its independence
. To heck with the U.N., to heck with diplomacy? If preemptive strikes are good enough for George Bush, they're good enough for China?
Of course, President Bush has vowed to help Taiwan
, one of our biggest arms customers, defend itself against China.
Today: the public's right to know
Plus: Italy investigates possible CIA kidnappings
in their country, Bush's fake news empire
, and the Washington Post opines on the Hefley insurrection
And does the bell finally toll for Tom DeLay
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Howard Dean speaks the truth
Dean Slams Bush on Town-Hall Meetings
By Jonathan E. Kaplan
Thursday 10 March 2005
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said yesterday that President Bush's policy of excluding non-Republicans from town-hall meetings on Social Security reform was "not an American thing to do."
Read the entire article in the extended entry or click here
Like to speed in school zones? Maybe you're a machine shop weighing the pro and cons of dumping your toxic waste in the Platte late tonight?
Don't worry, you'll get those fines back at the end of the year
Because of the way TABOR works, the fines and fees
coming in don't replace the refunds going out. Instead, that money becomes part of the complicated process of setting the state budget.
TABOR allows state spending to grow at a limited pace. All extra revenues collected by the state must be returned to taxpayers.
And that's where the politics of pushing public-safety bills rubs against the practical problems of writing the state budget.
Fines from lawbreakers are boosting the revenues available for taxpayer refunds - even as lawmakers trim funding for schools, prisons and health care for the poor...
Even the Governor seems to agree this is ludicrous -- but not House Minority Leader Joe Stengel, who declares with his usual charming banality that "that's just the way it is."
Maybe he would prefer drivers entering construction zones to interpret those signs as 'TABOR refunds doubled for speeding?'
And by Treasurer Coffman's own analysis
, by 2008 the vast majority of TABOR refunds (if the system isn't reformed) will be going to business and special interests, not to individual paxpayers -- to the tune of 73 cents on the dollar.
Sounds like a pretty good deductible against the risk of fines for that (hopefully fictional) little machine shop, with their pesky toxic barrels, just a few blocks away from the river...
What a gift the 109th Congress is turning out to be.
Not for you, of course.
has certainly been the chief business of the Congress this year.
"We've had great results in the business community with the passage of class action and with bankruptcy reform," said Peter Lawson, director of Congressional and Public Affairs in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
You can just read his smile, can't you? Probably because he represents large business and financial interests, who have managed through willing Senate accomplices to stack the deck against consumers like nobody has since before Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle
It's also much easier to pull this kind of thing when your 'opposition' falls apart in a less-articulate parody of Neville Chamberlain.
Nineteen Democratic senators -- that's more than 40 percent of Senate Democrats -- voted for the bankruptcy bill. Eighteen Democrats voted for the class action bill last month.
Ah, sweet bipartisanship, and the really good parties you get to attend when you give the man a little sugar.
"I believe it is peace for our time," Chamberlain said, after putting to rest that nasty Czechoslovakia
But the Phelps klan
got squelched yesterday by the good people of Colorado Springs. It's comforting to see their despciable hate speech
serve as its own antidote...
Ten members of a Topeka, Kan., church famous for its demonstrations
against the gay community received a rude welcome when they picketed Palmer High School Friday morning.
More than 500 people
turned out with banners and chants to condemn the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrators as messengers of hatred, not Christian love.
On a swatch of public sidewalk, relatives of church pastor Fred Phelps, who was not present, raised their signs proclaiming, "God Hate Fags," and depicting silhouetted human figures in the act of sodomy.
Across the street, hundreds faced them shouting "No more hate" and other chants.
A toast here before the liquor stores close
to those occasional faint glimmers of civility
Presidential wetnurse turns her ebullient spin on the rest of the world:
, one of President Bush's closest confidants who left the White House nearly three years ago to return home to Austin, Texas, has accepted a key post in the State Department, administration officials said Friday.
Hughes - who has continued to advise the president, most visibly during the final stretch of his re-election campaign - will be nominated by him to be undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, the officials said on the condition of anonymity.
The undersecretary, who must be confirmed by the Senate, deals with polishing the U.S. image abroad...
Hughes, a former Fort Worth, Texas, television reporter, has little diplomatic experience, but a rich background in politics and communications strategy.
Just the latest in a long series
of blurred lines. Total Message Management for a New American Century.
Maybe this is that rare case where the service can't get any worse?
McDonald's Corp., the world's largest restaurant chain, is testing the use of remote call centers
to handle drive-thru orders in an effort to improve service.
Company officials said the idea, being tested at a small number of restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, is aimed at reducing the number of mistakes at the drive-thru window...
I'm just hoping for a better experience than my last laptop tech-support call...
Mesa County relates their unhappy experience:
"I don't know if somebody is going to have to die before the state admits things aren't as rosy as it says," Commissioner Janet Rowland said.
In addition to flirting with disaster
, the Colorado Benefits Management System is costing the county $185,000 a month in benefits that shouldn't be distributed, but nonetheless end up in food-stamp disbursements, Rowland said.
Recipients are required under a court order to spend the food-stamp money; they can't turn it back to the county, Rowland said.
While that's troubling enough, she said, even more disturbing is the chance that a computer foul-up could endanger a benefit recipient, Rowland said.
While the system has forced overpayments, it also has denied benefits to people known by Human Services Department staffers to qualify, she said.
Rowland said she has watched employees punch information into the computer, then seen the computer readout showing the exact opposite of the information that was put in.
A person whose readout at a benefits office shows him to be qualified for a prescription drug can go to a pharmacy and be denied the drug, she said. That's because the pharmacy, looking at exactly the same system, will see him as being ineligible for coverage.
That's where Rowland said she's worried that a computer foul-up could have lethal consequences...
nailed this 'reality gap' yesterday:
The state departments of Human Services and Health Care Policy have been under court order to reduce the number of cases out of compliance with federal or state processing requirements by 40 percent at the end of February and another 40 percent in the next 60 days. Earlier this week the state reported that, lo and behold, its 29,300-case backlog in early January had dropped 68 percent, to 9,500, by early February.
The new numbers would seem to suggest that the new, $200 million computer system is now perking along. But county officials and service providers aren't buying it. They have seen a doubling - or worse - of pending Medicaid applications, and they tell sad stories about families who are not receiving necessary services.
From this morning's Salon War Room
(maybe they should change it to the 'Capitulation Room' for a day):
Eighteen Democrats make a choice
The U.S. Senate approved the almost universally unpopular bankruptcy reform bill last night, and -- thanks to the support of 18 Democrats -- the White House and the Republicans on Capitol Hill can proclaim it a triumph of bi-partisan cooperation. While you're writing the check for the minimum payment due again this month, your credit card company will be writing thank you notes to Democratic Sens. Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Jeff Bingaman, Robert Byrd, Tom Carper, Kent Conrad, Daniel Inouye, Tim Johnson, Herb Kohl, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Harry Reid, Ken Salazar and Debbie Stabenow.
House Democratistas stage an ethics committee rebellion...call it the Hefley Intifada
There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop.
The House, facing new controversy about the travel of Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other lawmakers, was left last night with no mechanism for investigating improper behavior by its members when Democrats shut down
the ethics committee by refusing to accept Republican rules changes that restrict the panel's power.
Democrats said they do not plan to allow the ethics committee to organize until Republicans repeal a series of rule changes they pushed through in January, making it more difficult to initiate an investigation unless at least one Republican member supports the probe...
--Berkeley student radical Mario Savio, 1964
From Paul Krugman's 3/9 New York Times
editorial, "The Debt-Peonage Society."
The bankruptcy bill was written by and for credit card companies
, and the industry's political muscle is the reason it seems unstoppable. But the bill also fits into the broader context of what Jacob Hacker, a political scientist at Yale, calls "risk privatization": a steady erosion of the protection the government provides against personal misfortune, even as ordinary families face ever-growing economic insecurity.
A vast majority of personal bankruptcies in the United States are the result of severe misfortune.
One recent study found that more than half of bankruptcies are the result of medical emergencies. The rest are overwhelmingly the result either of job loss or of divorce.
...the lives of ordinary Americans have become steadily less secure, and their chances of plunging from the middle class into acute poverty ever larger. Job stability has declined; spells of unemployment, when they happen, last longer; fewer workers receive health insurance from their employers; fewer workers have guaranteed pensions.
Warren Buffett recently made headlines by saying America is more likely to turn into a "sharecroppers' society" than an "ownership society." But I think the right term is a "debt peonage" society - after the system, prevalent in the post-Civil War South, in which debtors were forced to work for their creditors...
Does anyone else's stomach turn at the mere sight of CU football coach Gary Barnett?
Barnett's face stared out at me from the front page of the Denver Post this AM, and all I could do was utter a gutteral sound somewhere between "ugh" and "argh."
The headline screams "Barnett vows he'll stay."
As a CU alumna (both undergrad and Masters). he makes me want to scream. But what I'll do is vow to ignore all alumni fundraising appeals.
Barnett's stubborn refusal to admit wrongdoing and his cocky approach throughout the football recruiting "scandal" is both an outrage and an embarassment.
I am humiliated to think I attended a university where academics are almost an afterthought. Consider that at the moment, the football coach makes over a million bucks a year--while a full professor earns
less than 10% of that, an associate professor 7% and an assistant professor 6%.
And I am infuriated about the message this mess sends to women: "Shut up and sit down, ladies."
I don't care what Barnett says to try to repair the damage of his team's booze and sex-fueled recruiting parties--all information points to a locker room ripe with irresponsible, self-centered aggrandizement of jock culture. Which includes treating women as objects.
You know, like women don't matter, except to serve men. The wink-wink, "boys will be boys" attitude about paid strippers at player recruitment events, raped women by players, sexual harassment in the . training room
And then there's the infamous Katie Hnida remarks. After CU kicker Katie Hnida described ongoing harassment and a rape by a fellow player, Barnett's stupid reaction
was to describe the lack of respect the "guys" held for her due to her performance on the field: " Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible. OK? There's no other way to say it. She couldn't kick the ball through the uprights."
I'll tell you one thing--CU is no place for any of our daughters. There is no way in hell I'd encourage Sarah to attend her parents' alma mater.
It is amazing to me that the only CU administrator to survive this travesty is Barnett, the most offensive and arrogant one of the bunch. If I were CU, I'd worry less about a crazy loose cannon like Ward Churchill, and a whole lot more about a millionaire misogynist in charge at the Dal Ward Center.
Today: Oh Lord, Kumbaya
. News at 11.
Benefits system is a disaster
, says Mesa County, more racism at CU
, and Little John delivers
on transportation funding for Colorado.
Plus: Those who fight and run away
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
The financial services industry is pleased
to report to you the passage in the Senate today of S.256, "A bill to amend title 11 of the United States Code, and for other purposes
After years of stalemate and invective on 'bankruptcy reform,' it passed today 74-25
, with 18 Democrats
voting in favor. The stiff rhetorical opposition to the bill quietly broke down in the last couple of days. It's an unqualified defeat, and we'll be talking about the ramifications for some time.
Consumer groups and many Democrats say the bill is too harsh
on individuals who fall on hard times from sickness, divorce or job loss and have criticized it for retaining a loophole that allows wealthy individuals who file for bankruptcy to protect expensive homes.
To get some idea of the kind of havoc this is going to wreak, take a look at a few of the many amendments
that came to the Senate floor and were defeated:
S.AMDT.16 to S.256 To protect servicemembers and veterans from means testing in bankruptcy, to disallow certain claims by lenders charging usurious interest rates to servicemembers, and to allow servicemembers to exempt property based on the law of the State of their premilitary residence.
Status: Amendment SA 16 not agreed to.
S.AMDT.17 to S.256 To provide a homestead floor for the elderly.
Status: Amendment SA 17 not agreed to.
S.AMDT.28 to S.256 To exempt debtors whose financial problems were caused by serious medical problems from means testing.
Status: Amendment SA 28 not agreed to.
S.AMDT.31 to S.256 To limit the amount of interest that can be charged on any extension of credit to 30 percent.
Status: Amendment SA 31 not agreed to.
S.AMDT.37 to S.256 To exempt debtors from means testing if their financial problems were caused by identity theft.
Status: Amendment SA 37 not agreed to.
S.AMDT.49 to S.256 To protect employees and retirees from corporate practices that deprive them of their earnings and retirement savings when a business files for bankruptcy.
Status: Amendment SA 49 not agreed to.
And you honest consumers out there who think this will result in a one-tenth of a precent better deal on any loan you will ever get in your lifetime...well, you'll have the next few years to discover all the ways the joke is on you.
Just shows, once again, the full extent to which Americans voted 180Â° opposite their own compelling interests last November. It seems we're happy to live in Hooverville
, as long as you can't get an abortion there...
Note to self: running out of euphemisms here.
The Senate assured final passage
of the first major overhaul of the nation's bankruptcy laws in 27 years yesterday, when it took two votes that cleared the remaining political obstacles to a measure that the nation's credit and retail industries have sought for years.
The Senate yesterday first defeated an amendment that would have prevented violent protesters at abortion clinics from using the bankruptcy laws to shield themselves from judgments awarded in civil lawsuits. That amendment, which lost by a vote of 53-46, had threatened to derail the legislation. The senators then voted 69-31 to limit debate and cut off any effort to kill the legislation by filibuster.
Final passage of the measure is now a formality...
Abortion court-fines amendment (that is, to disqualify court fines incurred while protesting at abortion clinics illegally from protection): Salazar yes, Allard no. Okay. Expected that.
To 'invoke cloture' (that is, limit debate and move to passage of the bill): Allard yes, Salazar yes
Ironically, today's Post has a story about distressed consumers flooding bankruptcy lawyers' offices with calls, trying to get their fiscal houses in order before the law changes.
The change in the law comes as Colorado's bankruptcy filings are rising rapidly. The number of people filing for court protection from creditors nearly doubled
between 2000 and 2004...
There's a common presumption that Senator Allard isn't going to care. Nobody expects him to. Ken Salazar
, on the other hand, had a chance to hold his ground and help stop this tragedy of a bill. At the very least, he could have given Americans a clearer picture of what is being perpetrated on them by allowing debate to continue.
Instead, even if he votes against the final bill now (which he didn't --ed. 3/11)
, the right wing will claim a 'bipartisan victory' over 'those deadbeats
Nobody has asked the Senator to explain his actions here. Indeed, the only specific reference in Colorado media to Salazar having voted with the right wing on S.256 was an RMN/AP story from two days ago that has since been pulled off their site
Of course, given the naked contempt
expresses for debtors who file for bankruptcy protection, it's not hard to understand their running a little cover for him.
Bottom line? Salazar's motto was never "Be the Change" -- and now I've got a pretty good idea why...
A few months ago, a friend sent me this email that was circulating the Internet. All the discussion of TABOR reminded me of it:
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.
All but $10 of Joe's medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
Its noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.
After work this evening, Joe plans to visit his father at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.
Joe is happy to see his father, who is now retired and lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.
Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."
is out this morning with a devastating broadside against the right's war on all things public sector.
Colorado, as you should know by now, is Ground Zero in this much larger war -- and the national right wing doesn't care about our fiscal crisis. They don't care if our public colleges go bankrupt, or the roads fall apart, or if you have to wait hours in line at your county clerk's office because they can't afford to staff it. TABOR on the books in Colorado is a talking point for them, and reality be damned
The Terror of TABOR
Around the country, right-wing radicals are working feverishly to undermine public services in health, education, public safety and every other area. Their weapon of choice is something called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (or TABOR), which severely and artificially limits revenue and spending for all services, no matter how great the need. (This document provides a concise description of exactly how TABOR works.) The Heritage Foundation orchestrated the passage of TABOR in Colorado in 1992. The impact on Colorado has been disastrous. Now, Heritage, Grover Norquist and their radical right-wing allies are pushing hard to pass laws that would bring the terror of TABOR to the entire country.
TABOR – THE SHELL GAME EXPOSED: Right-wing ideologues try to present TABOR as reasonably limiting government spending based on a combination of population growth and inflation. But here is the trick: "No existing measure of inflation correctly captures the growth in the cost of the kind of services purchased in the public sector." That means "the inflation adjustment generally is not sufficient to allow the continuation of existing services." Also, "subpopulations that state government serve tend to grow more rapidly that the overall population growth used in the formula." For example, "while the total population grew by 15.4% from 1990 to 2002 … the number of elderly and disabled persons on Medicaid grew by 70 percent." Make no mistake about it: The goal of TABOR is not to restrain the growth of government; it is to undermine every vital government service.
TABOR – UNDERMINING HEALTH IN COLORADO: Since 1992, TABOR has severely limited funding for health care in Colorado, and the people of Colorado are suffering as a result. For example, the number of the state's low-income children who lack health insurance has skyrocketed from 15 percent in 1992 to 27 percent in 2003. During the same time period, the national proportion of low-income children without health insurance declined. Also, around the time of the passage of TABOR, the on-time vaccination rate for children in Colorado was above the national average. Now, Colorado is last in the nation for on-time immunization rates. (Now there is a bill [HB 04-1194] in the state legislature that will give Coloradans a chance to take back their government. If you're a Colorado resident, write to your state legislators and ask them to reform TABOR.)
TABOR – UNDERMINING EDUCATION IN COLORADO: TABOR has wreaked havoc on Colorado's schools. Today, "the ratio of teacher salaries to average private-sector earnings is lower in Colorado than in any other state," impeding the recruitment of quality teachers. Since the passage of TABOR the high school graduation rate has fallen 6 percent. Colorado now ranks 48th in the nation for "state funds for higher education per $1,000 of personal income." And while funding for state schools has plummeted, tuition has shot through the roof and scores of faculty are being lured away by states that can offer more reasonable salaries.
TABOR – IT DOESN'T HELP THE ECONOMY, STUPID: The Heritage Foundation, which is seeking to impose TABOR on the entire country, claims that it has been a boon to the Colorado economy. It's not so. Over a 44-month period ending in December 2004, Colorado hemorrhaged 68,000 jobs, a decline of 3.0 percent. Meanwhile, in ever other Mountain state – none of which has TABOR – the median job growth has been 4.5 percent during the same period. TABOR proponents dishonestly compare the growth rate in Colorado from 1980-1992 (a time period that featured three national recessions) with the growth rate from 1992-2004 (when there was just one national recession).
TABOR – BIPARTISAN BACKLASH IN COLORADO: Even Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (R) – who considers himself a champion of "low taxes and restrained government spending" – is now publicly critical of TABOR. In his recent State of the State address Owens said, "General Fund dollars available under TABOR ... will not keep pace with the demands on the budget. As a result, we cannot take the steps we must take to build a brighter future for all of Colorado, and particularly our children." Now conservative ideologues like Bob Novak are lashing out at Owens for acknowledging the needs of his constituents. In a Jan. 8 column, Novak opined that Owens' "once bright prospects... are taking another hit" because he supports amending TABOR.
Yesterday I picked up my daughter Sarah at preschool a couple of minutes early so we could head to the Auraria campus for lunch and a panel discussion on faith and social justice.
Evangelist Jim Wallis
, author of the New York Times' Bestseller book, God's Politics, was joined by Colorado clergy and activists in discussing government budgets as moral documents.
As we approached St. Cajetan's, Sarah was quite impressed with the rosy color of the building. Pink, after all, is the official color of all 4-year-old girls.
As we entered St. Cajetan's, I was quite impressed with the meeting
turnout--at least 350 to 400 self-described "progressives" voluntarily attending a session on religion and policy.
Whoa. But it's about time liberals realized that faith is a driving force in people's lives. In fact, it is faith that provides both the impetus and the motivation for many progressive policies.
Myself, I was influenced by the First United Methodist Church of Akron, the downtown, inner-city church I attended weekly as a child. It was all about social justice--helping your neighbor, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, reaching out to the poor.
I admit I moved away from the church as I reached adulthood due to theological differences.
But I hold tight to the imperative to advocate for "the least among us." And I don't need a minister or church to tell me it's the right thing to do. My heart feels it and my brain knows it.
Right now, the progressive agenda seems like a simple laundry list of "special interests" rather than a coherent philosophy.
Wallis assured the crowd that there are not only middle-of-the-road people of faith who reject the far-right agenda represented by groups like Focus on the Family, but a large number of evangelical Christians, too....evangelicals who believe that that addressing poverty is the number one priority outlined in the Bible and therefore for policy, that protective environmental policies are needed for God's creation and that a foreign policy that emphasizes peace is desirable.
"Whoever wins the debate about values will shape the future of politics," Wallis explained to the crowd.
So it's up to us who consider ourselves progressive to really think about why we believe as we do and articulate our policy positions as an extention of these core values. There are a whole lot of people out there who don't identify as "progressive," but are eager to hear what we have to say.
Today: Dems get TABOR reform
leaflet Greeley, Adrienne Anderson
vs. CU, and Littwin on legislative bickering that sounds like another world
tell Bush, "enough with the tax cuts
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Editor's note: Jason Salzman is co-founder and Board Chair of Rocky Mountain Media Watch.
Extremists like Independence Institute Prez Jon Caldara (read about him
and weep) like to accuse the Post and the Rocky of liberal bias.
But when asked for the proof, Caldara can't produce any. Here's what Caldara says about it, in my Saturday column
in the Rocky.
To his credit, Caldara was a gracious interviewee. He wasn't defensive. I did not take him up on his suggestion that I should get in touch with Mike Rosen for the evidence-as if Rosen has any.
You gotta love how the good old boys of conservative talk radio are taking care of one another. After calling Churchill a "violent activist," Jon Caldara on KOA Feb. 24 said he was "really proud" of Mike Rosen for spreading the word about Churchill to a national audience. Rosen was sitting in for Rush Limbaugh, who was in Afghanistan. (As a talker on Air America pointed out, picture Rush in the poppy fields of Afghanistan! Yikes.) Meanwhile, from Limbaugh's seat, Rosen plugs the KHOW's Caplis and Silverman.
There's a segment of the Denver print media that conservatives like these approve of: the Rocky's editorial page.
So Caldara must have been thrilled to read Tuesday's announcement that Vincent Carroll, longtime editor of the Editorial Pages at the News, will write a column four times a week. It will appear on the Rocky's editorial page, expanding the unsigned "On Point" column that's been running to the left of the Rocky's featured editorial. Here's Carroll's Wednesday column
Like Caldara and News Editor John Temple, Carroll believes reporters across America are liberal.
On Caldara's TV talk show on KBDI, Channel 12, Feb 25, Temple said, "I think most reporters are liberal leaning. I would not say left, but I would say liberal leaning."
Carroll explained his view in an e-mail to me last week:
There are all sorts of surveys that demonstrate beyond shadow of doubt that a large portion of newsroom journalists are somewhat left of center, and that liberalism's dominance is probably growing, not receding. A 1996 survey of newspaper journalists by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, for example, found five times as many liberals as conservatives in the nation's larger newsrooms. And surveys more recently have confirmed this general mix.
You might say to yourself, yes, more journalists are probably liberal-as in Democrats-but they still try to be fair and accurate. And if anything, they try too hard, so mainstream media coverage ends up looking even more conservative than it is. This could be right.
But here's what's really going on: it's impossible to have a liberal bias, as a reporter, when you hardly cover the issues true "liberals" care about. These issues include:
* Serious environmental reform, as seen in "centrist" European countries.
* Livable wage.
* The war on wage earners and unions by large corporations and conservatives.
* Fair Trade.
* Media reform.
* The failing drug war.
* Pentagon spending run wild.
* And more.
Where are the liberal reporters when we need them?
My four year old has been getting in trouble at preschool lately. Frankly, I'm at a loss to explain just why he has such trouble expressing his anger/frustration without punching his fellow four year olds, or talking back to his teacher.
It's not easy to deal with, and we're doing everything we can to get to the bottom of this behavior. And of course, all our preschool administrator wants to do is lecture us about the importance of 'their safety,' as if my 4 year old could actually hurt his adult teachers. They seem less and less interested in helping get to the bottom of his bad behavior with each passing day...
Then I read this
yesterday, and the whole post-Columbine paradigm of focusing on 'safety' above all else in our public schools took on this absurd aspect for me. Read below, and tell me if you don't think our reflexive desires to 'protect' people have devolved into 'Cookie Bandit
Winchester police say William Poole, 18, was taken into custody Tuesday morning. Investigators say they discovered materials at Poole's home that outline possible acts of violence aimed at students, teachers, and police.
Poole told LEX 18 that the whole incident is a big misunderstanding. He claims that what his grandparents found in his journal and turned into police was a short story he wrote for English class.
"My story is based on fiction," said Poole, who faces a second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge. "It's a fake story. I made it up. I've been working on one of my short stories, (and) the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies."
Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky," said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.
Poole disputes that he was threatening anyone...
You know, I don't think he was. And I further believe that turning something so trite as fiction about "zombies overrunning a high school" into a felony case
undermines not only the free expression rights of students, but the credibility of law enforcement
in the eyes of students.
That seems to me to be a bad idea, if you're looking to interdict the next real
Eric and Dylan...
Keith Swain, an openly gay man who is a Denver Post Colorado Voices
columnist, is understandably nervous.
This week he received "...a letter scrawled in pencil on lined paper. The writer quoted Bible verses, and was obviously angry. 'The wages of sin are death,' he quoted the Bible, and added his own commentary: 'God demands the death of all homosexuals ... There is more to come ... .'"
Swain, having been a friend of Alan Berg, the radio show host killed by white supremicists for his "liberal" views, had seen many of the scary notes Berg received prior to his murder.
So Swain recognizes the hallmarks of a real threat: odd, rambling, handwritten notes on dirty pieces of paper, loaded with bible quotes, with allegations that God will kill him.
There are over 3,000 verses
in the Bible about helping the poor, but depending your theologian, there are none or very few that mention the so-called scourge of homosexuality.
I also seem to recall spending a whole lot of time on loving your brother as yourself, forgiveness and not casting stones from my Sunday School days.
Look, everybody's entitled to his or her own opinion, however misinformed or ignorant it may be. If someone wants to object to homosexuality, fine--pair up with a member of the opposite sex or stay single.
But why should it go farther than that? What is it that makes certain people want to make it illegal for two people to live and love in a committed relationship? Can't they just be left alone? I know Swain would appreciate it.
Here's a newsflash for the radical right: Maybe you never thought of this, but you can oppose without imposing. Really, you can. Try it and see.
Then you can concentrate on the 3,000 Bible passages that command you to alleviate the suffering of the poor.
We can even work together on that.
Today: Open war
on the budgetary horizon, Independence Institute puts a hit out on Amendment 23
, College Republicans ordered to contain their mean-spirited little selves
, and the Post debunks a few administration Social Security myths
Plus: Looking kind of bad for Tom DeLay
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
I guess Flava Flav
Authorities said Austin Police Officer John Lengefeld heard a radio transmission shortly after 7 p.m. Feb. 18 that the Midtown Live nightclub
was on fire.
Documents indicate the seven-year department veteran said he immediately thought of the song "Disco Inferno" and sent a message from his patrol car to fellow officer Josue Martinez that said "burn baby burn."
So began more than two hours of messages.
Martinez replied 37 seconds later: "Hey ... LOL (laughing out loud). Those were my exact thoughts," according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Later, an officer asked, "Please tell me if Midtown is burning?"
Officer William White sent a note that described the fire as "the smell of victory."
At one point during the flurry of messages, records show dispatcher Susan Negron wrote, "I have some extra gasoline if they need it."
The club draws a mostly black clientele and some accused police of racial bias...
In case you thought pining for the "good old days" of the slaveholding South went out of style with Trent Lott:
"We don't do Lincoln Day Dinners
in South Carolina," Senator [Lindsey] Graham told a Lincoln Day gathering in Tennessee Saturday. "It's nothing personal, but it takes awhile to get over things."
According to a Knoxville News Sentinel article published Sunday, Graham entertained an amicable crowd and joked about his predecessor in the Senate, former Sen. Strom Thurmond.
And to think, redneck cross-burners: if the South had held out a little longer
, we could have avoided "all these problems
I'll say this -- the man's got nerve
The four-term Republican congressman from Littleton had to walk through a crowd of about 25 protesters to get into the Hasan School of Business auditorium, but the toughest questions came after his 45-minute talk - when Hispanic Puebloans pressed him to explain how he could argue for deporting millions of illegals
and still claim not to be racist.
"I know that this discussion always wants to devolve into a question of ethnicity, but that's not what this is about," Tancredo said.
When one man demanded to know if Tancredo really wanted to round up the 10 to 20 million illegals in the nation, Tancredo said he did - but as a last step.
Challenged on why he was always talking about building a fence on the Mexican border, Tancredo said he also wanted tougher border controls with Canada. "Osama bin Laden could fly into Toronto, declare that he was Omar the Tentmaker and he could get in as a refugee," Tancredo answered.
That's a joke, right? Oh, right, that's called 'hyperbole.' Stock and trade of the fearmonger. And Mr. 'America is Full
' seems to have a distorted view of his own family's immigrant history as well:
Another questioner dismissed Tancredo's account of his grandparents immigrating from Italy and wanting to become "Americanized."
"The more you talk, the more you come across like Bull Connor (notorious former Birmingham, Ala., lawman)," the man challenged Tancredo. "It sounds like you're saying, 'Mine are here so now I don't want any more to come.'"
Probably because that's what he was
Of course he forgets that during the Ellis Island period, Italian immigrants had the highest rate of return to their home country after a few years' work, a vast majority of unskilled, single males coming over, one of highest rates of 'remittance payments,' the highest illiteracy rate (even worse than the Irish) -- and that was decades before we started talking in this country about the 'terrorist threat' of Sacco and Vanzetti
Despite all that, Tancredo's grandparents still got the chance to 'Americanize,' and then thrive here, so that their grandson Tom could come along a couple generations later and sprew his 'send 'em back!' demagoguery...
He was once a simple cartoon figure, a bucktoothed, yellow sea sponge living in an underwater pineapple with his pet snail.
Now he's the latest symbol of the culture wars, spotted Monday
soaking up attention outside the state Capitol...
The demonstration was staged by a Denver-based political group called progressnowcolorado.org, formerly the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network.
"We need to focus on the funding and solve the budget crisis in this state," said Michelle Dally, a group spokeswoman.
Thanks to everybody who cheered/honked at the Capitol yesterday. Thanks especially to our SpongeBobs, Zoe Williams and Tom Mestnik.
Today my son John says he doesn't want to go on a trip to Mesa Verde over spring break. He tells me he'd rather stay home.
He's a 7-year old history buff who can tell you all about the American westward movement and its effect on various Native American cultures.
But because he's never been to Mesa Verde, HQ of the ancient Anasazi people in southwestern Colorado, and he doesn't know what his experience might be like, he is completely resistant, even though it will be "good for him" both intellectually and in terms of sheer fun.
He knows he's comfortable at home, so he's digging in his heels, insisting that he's right and I am wrong.
He kind of reminds me of Governor Bill Owens
, who keeps insisting that TABOR budget limits are great, even though everyone knows that in order for the state to meet its most basic of obligations, he and lawmakers must find a fix.
But Gov. Owens has never ruled without TABOR, and he doesn't know what his experience might be like, so he's resisting all serious legislative attempts to alleviate the stranglehold TABOR has on the state budget, even though it would be "good for" the state.
Gov. Owens rose to power under TABOR's popularity, and the politics of tax cuts has been very, very good to him. He's comfortable with TABOR, so he's digging in his heels insisting he's right and everybody else is wrong.
Um, no. It's just that what's good isn't always easy.
But there's good news. After reading this to John before he left for school, he blushed a little, giggled a lot and changed his mind: He WILL try Mesa Verde after all.
Will the Governor try something new, too?
Today's highlights: SpongeBob
says, "don't believe the hype!"
gets his comeuppance from a crowd of angry Puebloans, the tech-bust blues
, court-ordered progress on the benefits system still
doesn't make the grade, and the Colorado Daily
reflects on International Women's Day
Plus: Congressional Dems hitting back on rightwing abuse of power
, Bush appoints a UN-hater
to represent us there, military interrogators tells Gitmo detainees
not to trust their Jew lawyers
, and Krugman on the new American debtor underclass
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Actually, there are two.
One was a myth
promulgated by David Horowitz for the last year and a half regarding an essay assignment at UNC, supposedly on "Why Bush is a War Criminal." Oft-repeated by College Republicans, not to mention used all over the country to bully legislatures into passing their own Academic Bills of Rights to 'protect' conservative kids from that sort of thing. Only problem is, it's fiction.
But remember, with his many minions he can wish all of academia
into the cornfield.
The other is of course CU President Betsy Hoffman
, who finally succumbed today to pressures that require no resummarizing. In the end, she will not be connected personally to any of these disgusting athletics scandals -- which would themselves barely register on the NCAA debauchery-meter, were it not for their value attacking higher education in Colorado
Which brings us to the real reason why Betsy Hoffman chose to resign this morning. Somewhere between the Andrews-right's avowed intentions to destroy public higher education in Colorado, and a new wave of opportunistic McCarthyism spreading across our campuses, the last few months of her job have played out like a Greek tragedy.
She has my sympathy, for one, and a promise not to allow let her destruction at the hands of misogynist jocks and censorious 'patriots' to be forgotten.
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
SpongeBobs meet the press
For a high resolution copy of this picture, click here
Focus on the Family Day at the Capitol
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 7, 2005
CONTACT: Michelle Dally
Denver: A group dressed up as SpongeBobs upstaged the Focus on the Family's Day at the State Capitol this morning. SpongeBobs' point: the state is in a budget crisis - why is Focus on the Family misusing donors' money attacking a cartoon character?
"With Colorado's colleges and universities going bankrupt we need Focus on the Family to focus on better schools," stated Tom Mestnik, a Metro State College student dressed as a SpongeBob at the Capitol. "That James Dobson misuses his donors' money on attacking a cartoon character shows how hateful Dobson is," Mestnick added.
Last Wednesday, March 2, 2005, in a "call to action"1 emailed to thousands of Focus on the Family members regarding SpongeBob, Dobson accused the media of referring to him as a "religious zealot."2
"Colorado ranks 40th worst in per pupil funding in education,3 and dead last among the 50 states in funding childhood immunizations,"4 stated Michael Huttner, Executive Director of progressnowcolorado.org which organized the SpongeBobs. "Rather than focus on critical children's issues, why does Dobson misuse Focus on the Family donors' money attacking cartoon sea creatures?" he asked.
Dobson, in his e-mail, charges that there is "media distortion of the truth," however the facts show that on January 18, 2005 at a black-tie private political dinner in Washington, Dobson singled out SpongeBob for appearing in a video on tolerance, which Dobson misreported as a "pro-homosexual video."5
Dobson's spokesman later defended Dobson's charges but admitted he wasn't sure whether Dobson had seen the video when he made the accusations but "he had been briefed on it."6
Focus on the Family, through its state lobbying affiliate, the Rocky Mountain Family Council, held their "2nd Day at the Capitol" from 8:00-10:00 this morning with former Republican State Senate President John Andrews as their keynote speaker.
# # #
progressnowcolorado.org [formerly the Rocky Mountain Progressive Network] is a nonpartisan, national grassroots organization whose mission is to be a strong credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.
For more information, quotes or sources, please call Michelle Dally at 303-356-2532.
1 The content of Dobson's emailed call to action is available at fotf.org.
2 See www.billoreilly.com
3 U.S. Department of Education
4 Rocky Mountain News, Nov. 16, 2004
5 New York Times, January 19, 2005
6 MSNBC, January 20, 2005
Generally speaking, I'm no Joel Hefley fan.
I disagree with the Colorado Springs Congressman on almost all the issues.
But I gotta give Hefley credit for having the guts to preside over an "admonishment"
of House Majority Tom DeLay for repeated abuses of power, as the Chairman of the House Ethics Committee.
Let's face it...DeLay, investigated for illegal campaign funds, money laundering and other scandals, is a caricature of the corrupt Washington politician who deserved even harsher treatment.
Seemingly tone-deaf, House Republicans' response to DeLay's admonishment was trying to weaken ethics rules. And Hefley stepped up again to protest.
So as a nice howdy-do, House Speaker Dennis Hastert fired Hefley from his committee position and now its new chairman, Congressman Doc Hastings has fired two senior staff
lawyers involved in the DeLay investigation.
Having been the good soldier when he was invited off the committee, now that staffers are taking the fall, Hefley is a little miffed. He was quoted in today's Boulder Daily Camera as saying, "That looks very much like a purge...It seems to me like it was."
Of course, Hastings' mouthpiece has denied any such purge. Yeah, and I have some great Florida land to sell you for cheap.
Here is the far-right message from D.C. to us in the heartland: Winning first. Loyalty next. Ethics never.
And here's our message from us in the heartland to D.C.: Ethics matter. We're going to remember this for Novembers to come.
So Congressman Hefley, let me offer my condolences for the corrupt subculture in which you live. Let's hope that Americans take notice and fire the immoral leadership that put you in the position you're in today.
|On one hand, you've got James Dobson's genteel campaigns against gay people -- you know, the duplicitous "love the sinner, hate the sin" approach. A kinder, gentler bigotry that lurks at the heart of every supposedly dispassionate argument against letting gay people have the same tax, insurance, and inheritance rights as any other couple.|
And on the other --
-Roper held a bright neon painted sign that read "Thank God for 9-11
" and claimed it was her duty
to come to Cleveland.
"You've got a bunch of lying false prophets that are running the churches around here and being paid to tell people that God loves them," Roper said.
Another protester, Katherine Hockenbarger, claimed the 9-11 attack was divine retribution.
"That was but a small sign of the doom of this nation," she said.
"You can't live your life anyway you want to and expect to go to heaven."
Funny, I remember some other "America deserved 9/11" diatribes getting media play in the recent past. Seems to me there's some controversy still raging over that, a la
'that man is a seditious menace
I patiently await the same level
of blog-right outrage
I was off re-reading all those furious denunciations
of Eason Jordan's 'lots of dead journalists in Iraq' remarks. You remember: the remarks that got him fired, accused of treason, et cetera.
It's timely to read that stuff again this morning:
Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena
has disputed the U.S. account of a shooting incident that left her wounded and an Italian intelligence officer dead shortly after her release by Iraqi insurgents...
The U.S. military says the car carrying Sgrena was speeding and that soldiers used hand signals, flashed lights, and fired warning shots in an attempt to stop it, before opening fire.
However, in an article for her newspaper, Il Manifesto, Sgrena said Sunday the car was not speeding and that "there was no bright light and no signal."
"It wasn't a checkpoint, but a patrol that shot as soon [as] they lit us up with a spotlight. We didn't know where the bullets were coming from. We had not met other checkpoints before. Our car was absolutely not traveling at high speed," she said.
And no, I don't think they shot at the car knowing a reporter was inside. Couple of points that need to be made, though:
1) Further evidence of trigger-happy patrols in Iraq. In a confused theater of battle like the congested streets of Baghdad, occupying forces make the decision to err on the side of either minimizing noncombatant casualties, or their own
. Either choice results in bodybags, but the troops will insist that it ought not be Americans stuffing them...
Sounds pretty clear-cut morally, until you remember that we unilaterally invaded their country
. With that in mind, this business of gunning down 'suspicious' vehicles/people on sight isn't so simple.
2) As the Germans rolled into Belgium in the fall of 1914, the local population bravely chose to fight them asymmetrically rather than surrender. Though hopelessly overmatched, they waged a fierce guerilla campaign against the German army as it turned south towards Paris. The Germans responded with harsh rules of engagement for their Belgian garrisons that resulted in many civilian deaths -- and Allied media used this agit-prop coup, quickly given the name 'the rape of Belgium,' to effectively demonize Germany. Though many of the worst charges leveled at the Germans were ultimately debunked as wartime propaganda, the printed image of the apelike 'Hun' ravishing a beautiful, generic white girl was seared in the minds of millions of kids
who rushed to the trenches to save her. And we know how that story ended, four years and about 9 million dead soldiers later.
The Germans insisted
they were only trying to 'protect their boys' from 'terrorist insurgents.'
I really hope this
Up in Washington, the right is slobbering all over itself trying to prove its repeated challenges to last November's gubernatorial election results aren't just a hypocritical charade
Tough enough, even harder when you don't have your facts straight.
The state Republican Party's list of people it claims voted illegally in Washington's ultra-close gubernatorial election is riddled with inaccuracies
and "smears the names of innocent people," lawyers for state Democrats said yesterday.
...news accounts already are turning up people who have been erroneously accused -- voters with the same names as felons, innocent people whose identities had been stolen and used by criminals, or others who never have been convicted of a crime.
McDonald said it took only "a matter of minutes" for his team to quickly discern that the supposed illegal votes on that list could easily be explained. To illustrate the point, the Democratic lawyers showed blown-up copies of pages from various King County poll books.
In one example, a copied page appears to show that a woman who the GOP alleges voted twice only signed for one ballot. A poll worker's notation under the woman's signature apparently got counted as a second signature.
In another example, the Rossi camp claims someone voted in the name of a dead woman, but a copied poll book seems to show that a voter accidentally signed on the wrong line -- one line below his correct space.
Of the 15 names initially turned over by Republicans last week, the Democratic lawyers said, they've yet to verify a single illegal vote.
Bottom line: if they can show fraud that could change the outcome, I say give the right wingers what they want: the election ruled invalid, and a new one ordered. Doesn't seem likely, but I'd
be the hypocrite if I didn't allow for the possibility.
Which brings us to the real question: how badly does the right want such a 'Sore Loserman' precedent on the books? Like they said in The Incredible Mr. Limpet
, "be careful what you wish for..."
We talked in December about New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron (D), and plainly visible conflicts of interest
in her close association with the electronic voting industry.
In 2004, Bush carried New Mexico by only 11,000 votes. New Mexico was selected by the minor party coalition
as a good candidate for their investigative recount effort -- and were turned back after repeated attempts by an openly obstructive
But it's not over yet. That 'conflict of interest' we were talking about looks less and less hypothetical with each passing day:
Stewart described how at different stages in 2004's post-election recount, the [New Mexico] Secretary of State provided contradictory data sets
of supposedly 'certified votes.' Initially, the provisional ballot count was not released because "a vendor" had the data, Stewart said he was told. When Stewart said he finally obtained those figures in early January, the fuller data set didn't match what he was given after the election. "The numbers were different," Stewart said. "I called the Bureau of Elections back. They said that is not possible. The vendor provided it all to us."
...The state has the nation's highest 'undercount rate,'
meaning thousands of votes for president did not register, and therefore were not counted. Stewart said the state's electronic voting machines produced the largest number of undercounts - which election officials duly ignored. "The secretary of state of New Mexico said they don't spend much time on undercounts," he said.
"The secretary of state blames the voters. I blame the machines. Without a paper trail, there's no way to know which is correct."
So New Mexico's electronic voting machines didn't work well (at the very least), resulting in thousands of 'undervotes' for President. But Rebecca Vigil-Giron blames individual voters as opposed to the e-voting system vendors
: even though those systems, meant to eliminate voting problems of this kind, apparently caused the majority of them.
"We've become a family," Vigil-Giron says of her close friends in the electronic voting machine business. It's not surprising that she thinks so, especially after one of the industry's leading figures helped fund her campaign
And families stick together.
It was bad enough when Wayne Allard flouted the Constitution
Let's start this out with a brief point about that document, which President Bush obviously hasn't read lately
United States Constitution, Article XIV.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
Bush swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, right?
"One of the myths of Social Security is that your money is going into it and the government is holding it and saving it for you. That's not the way it works. Your money is going into the system and it's getting spent -- some of it on retirement benefits, other parts on just general government..."
The bottom line, Bush said, is the government has no chance of paying future benefits it is currently guaranteeing
"First of all, the government can't meet its promises," Bush said.
Now, before we point out how it was Reagan
who merged Social Security with the Treasury's general funds
in 1983, creating the 'IOU crisis,' I just want to ask again: would any of you rightwingers like to defend Clinton's impeachment for me? You remember, don't you? The 'high crimes' of president/intern fellatio
It's not like I really want to argue that sorry spactacle again. Any more than holding American citizens
for years without trial, or condoning torture
would convince you: it would just be entertaining to hear again, with another example of this President's bottomless contempt
for his oath of office fresh in everybody's mind.
When you're a working mom, life is precariously balanced.
The schedule has to be planned down to the nanosecond. Mine goes something like this:
5:10: Stagger downstairs for a cup of coffee
5:15: Start daily workout
6:15: Start first work session of the day
7:15: Get children's breakfast ready to go (waffles in toaster, milk poured)
7:20: Wake kids up, get them dressed, breakfasted and ready
7:55: Throw in load of laundry
8:05: Announce that in 5 minutes it'll be time to get shoes on
8:08: Announce that in 2 minutes it'll be time to get shoes on
8:10: Supervise shoes and coats finding their way to the proper body parts
8:15: Transport kids to bus stop where child #2 gets on bus
8:20: Drive back home to catch child #1's ride to school
8:30: Type on computer and go to meetings until 3:45 PM which is the easy part.
Sure, I overschedule a bit, but running around is my specialty. At 3:45 I begin the wild adventure that starts with the pick up of child #1 at school then child #2 at Grandma's; do more work; kids to practices; whip up dinner; do a little volunteering; throw in another load of laundry; do some more work; bathe children then read stories; finish up work; fall into bed sometime after 10 PM.
The slightest unplanned event can bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.
The toilet overflowing. A work project that changes dramatically after work has begun. The dog barfing on the rug outside the bedrooms. A meeting that runs overtime. Lost homework. An extra draft of a report. Missing shoes, coat, hat or mittens. A computer crash. No milk in the fridge. Running out of paper or ink. Your mom calling from out of state as you're going out the door.
Any one of those things throws off the carefully timed schedule and we miss the bus or I'm late to a meeting. Any combination of them means paralysis for the system we call a "family," not to mention that your work day goes to hell in a handbasket.
I am lucky enough to be a consultant, so I have more flexibility than most women. That's not to say that, for example, a sick kid doesn't throw a major curve into my life. It most certainly does--I have to cancel or postpone meetings, drive to the pediatrician's office, move my 'to dos" on my Palm and work around the water/medicine/comfort needs of my child.
Ask me today, after our 4-year old coughed all night. Her dad is a walking zombie today, thanks to the sleep deprivation he experienced while comforting her. But he had to report for work at 7:30 AM.
But what if I had to clock into my workplace? I might get a pass once or twice. But the reprimands and warnings would start rolling in pretty quick.
Hey, I know it was my (well, with my husband) choice to have a family. We don't expect special treatment for that. Plus, being a mom is the best thing I do in my life...I love it. If a client started to make demands that interfere with motherhood, I'd just let the contract expire and move on. Most people don't have that luxury.
But women in mid-life bring a lot of competence, knowledge and life-experience to employers--we're valuable as employees. Not only are we skilled, but God knows we know how to multitask, too.
As a country we need to get serious about offering flexible schedules and telecommuting (if possible) to moms (and dads) who have lives that look like mine. If their jobs allow it, these workers should be able to put in the same amount of time when and where it works best for them.
I am so fortunate to be able to work around my family, not only because I'm a consultant, but also because my clients are progressive non-profit organizations, and most of them "get it."
But that doesn't mean I'll stop fighting for the rights of other women to be able to do the same.
Hey American businesses: Establish women-friendly workplaces. Its right for the economy, it's right for business, it's right for families and it's right for society.
Funny how Americans aren't as eager to cash out their future as they were ten years ago...
Adding fuel to the debate before a congressional vote, a poll released Tuesday showed a majority of Americans oppose
the proposed U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement known as CAFTA. Only 32 percent support the agreement.
The main concern among 800 respondents polled by phone in early February: potential job losses and economic damage in the United States.
The arguments that got NAFTA over on Americans in 1993 don't work anymore. Today, when CAFTA-pushers (like the Bush administration) tell you that the treaty will "give American business access to a vast new market," Americans know that's a straight-up lie.
Because Mexico never emerged as the 'hot new market' hungry for Made-in-America products it was billed to be in 1993. Instead, Mexico has served American corporate interests as a vast new outsourcing labor pool -- the bottom line being the huge disparity between what American and Mexican workers are paid.
Therein lies the real truth about artificially joining two economies that are fundamentally unequal -- these agreements exist in order to exploit
that inequality. They intentionally bypass wage and occupational safety laws protecting American workers, while trucking the product in as easily as if it was made in Kansas.
Response: what about quality of life in Mexico? Hasn't that at least improved, even if it was at the expense of American workers?
Answer: the race to the bottom has claimed them, as well:
...when the US went into recession
in 2000-01, maquiladora
employment fell, and remains below peak levels because many of the
border assembly factories, especially those producing textiles and
apparel, have moved to China and other countries with lower wages. Of
the 700,000 new maquiladora jobs generated in Nafta's first seven years, 300,000 were eliminated between 2000 and 2003.
Many of the evaluations of Nafta's first decade concluded that trade-led growth was not sufficient to bring prosperity to Mexico: real wages in Mexico were lower in 2001 than in 1994 despite higher productivity, income inequality is greater and Mexico-US migration rose in the 1990s. Poverty remains widespread: half of the 104 million Mexicans are considered poor, including 42 million who have less than $2 a day...
With that in mind, it's not hard to understand why Central Americans are reacting to CAFTA with cries of 'Ya Basta!' instead of 'Bienvenido!' --
Honduras on Thursday became the second Latin American country after El Salvador to ratify a free trade agreement with the United States.
Lawmakers immediately fled
Congress following their decision, however, to avoid 1,000 government employees who were protesting the measure outside. The demonstrators later entered the building, breaking windows and chairs and occupying the legislators' abandoned seats as left-leaning lawmakers delivered anti-CAFTA speeches.
Widescale opposition protests in neighboring Guatemala prompted the congress on Wednesday to delay CAFTA deliberations for a week...
Could it be that they view themselves as more than just some strip-mall tycoon's cheap labor
You know where I'm going with this, don't you?
University of Colorado students have reported a string of racially motivated incidents
, including derogatory dorm graffiti and a lecture-hall brawl over the use of a slur.
A natural side effect of jingoism
, if you know your history...
Today: Udall waits for the big ticket
(o-kay), Westminster residents take aim at Wal-Mart
, and Betsy Hoffman on the new McCarthyism
Plus: Greenspan (wait for it) says we might need to raise taxes
, Bush actually mentions Bin Laden
in a speech, and the Army's recruitment woes
And why sell-outs
aren't always found on the right --
NOTE: some news sites require free registration in order to read their stories.
Paul Krugman exposes Alan Greenspan
for the hack that he is:
Four years ago, Alan Greenspan urged Congress to cut taxes, asserting that the federal government was in imminent danger of paying off too much debt.
On Wednesday the Fed chairman warned Congress of the opposite fiscal danger: he asserted that there would be large budget deficits for the foreseeable future, leading to an unsustainable rise in federal debt. But he counseled against reversing the tax cuts, calling instead for cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Does anyone still take Mr. Greenspan's pose as a nonpartisan font of wisdom seriously?
Reverend Jim Wallis is the "Falwell of the Left." In his new book, God's Politics - a New York Times Top Ten best-seller, Reverend Wallis takes aim at the Religious Right and calls on progressive people to take back their faith.
To kick off the progressnowcolorado.org Speaker Series, I am pleased to invite you to meet Reverend Wallis at a reception in his honor:
Wednesday, March 9th
6:00 p.m. ~ 7:00 p.m.
The Tattered Cover in LoDo
1590 Wynkoop, Denver
~ Free of Charge ~
(Following the Reception, at 7:30 p.m., Reverend Wallis will speak about his book and sign copies for the public.)
Questions or RSVP: Call 303-991-1900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
"Since when did believing in God and having moral values make you pro-war, pro-rich, and pro-Republican? And since when did promoting and pursuing a progressive social agenda with a concern for economic security, health care, and educational opportunity mean you had to put faith in God aside?" Those are the questions Reverend Wallis asks in his book.
For too long, Radical Right leaders like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson have used faith to divide us and to push their narrow agenda. Reverend Wallis reminds us that no one has a corner on the "values" market.
I hope to see you next Wednesday at the Tattered Cover in LoDo.
It's time the right understands something: those of us who decry this nation's recent and wholesale abandonment of her founding principles are not 'disloyal.' We are not committing 'sedition,' we are not providing 'aid and comfort to the enemy,' and we are patriotic
in our conviction that the country has taken an historic wrong turn in the last four years -- and that a better America
Indeed, America's whole history has been one of slow progress towards ideals our Founding Fathers envisioned but could not enact in their day. But that progress has been resisted at every step by the reactionaries in our midst; from the liberation of the slaves, to public education, the National Labor Relations Act, Social Security, the Civil Rights Act...
In fact, sometimes I think we 'liberal traitors' are the only real patriots left. Too often anymore, all you see from the right is the 'patriotism' of the book-burner
, more correctly referred to as 'jingoism.'
Seems like every day there's a fresh indictment of the present administration that forces one to take a stand. Here's today's offering, courtesy of the New York Times
The Bush administration enthusiastically congratulated itself this week for including abuses by Iraqi authorities in its annual report on human rights violations. One State Department official called it proof that "we don't look the other way." But the report did look away - from American involvement
in the mistreatment it decried. In the end it was another sad reminder of the heavy price the nation has paid for ignoring fundamental human rights in Iraq, Afghanistan and GuantÃ¡namo; in the secret cells where the C.I.A. holds its unaccounted-for prisoners; and at home, where President Bush continues to claim the power to hold Americans in jail indefinitely without the right to trial.
So which is it, Red America? Is the New York Times
just another 'seditious menace' to you now? Or do you still occasionally get that cold feeling in your stomach, when it briefly it occurs to you just how far our great country has fallen? Do you really believe that we must destroy everything our country stands for
in order to save it?
It's not hyperbole, it's not 'liberal propaganda' -- we're making ominous new history. We're making a hypocritical joke out of claims to be 'spreading freedom throughout the world.' And (most important if you love this country as I do) actions have consequences
, which is alot nicer way of putting it than some other 'seditious menaces' have recently.
Fundamentalism is our biggest threat.
So said my late father who died at 83 in 2002.
Man, I miss those Saturday morning phone calls with my dad. We'd catch up on all things family and hometown, saving a good half-hour for geopolitical analysis.
Our last discussion before he went into the hospital for his final week of life centered on whether a Palestinian-Israeli peace ever would be possible.
A life-long Republican, raised in a western Pennsylvania coal mining town by immigrant parents during the Depression, serving in WWII as a pilot in the Army Air Corps before returning to work on a MA then a PhD in Economics, my dad was always a thoughtful and skillful discussion partner.
Worldwide fundamentalism was his greatest fear for civilization as we know it.
Fundamentalists are all about us vs. them: The unflappable belief that they are right and everyone else is wrong...the inflexible dictates on social roles (think man/woman, parent/child, clergy/laity)...a "devil" to hate (think liberals, "secular humanism," American materialism, Jews, books, movies, etc. depending on your "brand" of fundamentalism).
FYI: We're not "us." We are "them."
Make no mistake about it: Whether Christian, Islamist or whatever, they're out to remake the world in their image alone. They are sending out invitations to their exclusive world party, and the rest of us are not invited.
They are deadly serious. Obviously 9-11 was a shocking U.S. introduction to Islamist fundamentalist thinking. But it's not limited to the Middle East.
It's alive and well in the U.S. Consider the words of a homegrown U.S. fundamentalist:
"This is our land. This is our world. This is our heritage, and with God's help, we shall reclaim this nation for Jesus Christ. And no power on earth can stop us."
--D. James Kennedy
in his book, Character & Destiny: A Nation In Search of Its Soul
With Focus on the Family and 65+ other Christian activist organizations in the state, Colorado is at the epicenter of American fundamentalism--we cannot be lulled into complacency.
I don't want to deny the fundamentalists' right to believe and worship as they please. But I sure as hell don't want them to make it mandatory for me to adopt their worldview and live by their rules.
We independent-types must be vigilant to keep our freedoms intact; as my dad always used to say, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
Our democracy depends on it.
Excluding perhaps my own marriage, this has got to be a record.
Four months after Mr. Bush won a solid re-election over Senator John Kerry, 63 percent of respondents say the president has different priorities
on domestic issues than most Americans. Asked to choose among five domestic issues facing the country, respondents rated Social Security third, behind jobs and health care. And nearly 50 percent said Democrats were more likely to make the right decisions about Social Security, compared with 31 percent who said the same thing about Republicans.
"There are so many other things that seem to me to be more critical and immediate: I think the national debt is absolutely an immediate thing to address," said Irv Packer, 66, a Missouri Republican. He added, "Another one that I'd really like to see people working on is the environment."
Lisa Delaune, 37, a student from Houston and a member of the Green Party, said in a follow-up interview, "My opinion is that the president favors big business over the health and well-being and overall stability of the entire American population."
And Mr. Bush does not appear to be much more in step with the nation on what the White House has long viewed as his strong suit: 58 percent of respondents said the White House did not share the foreign affairs priorities of most Americans...
Today's highlights: Contraceptive notification debate gets testy
, Colorado Springs and the oldest trick
in the book, and CU provides a lesson in what usually follows
Plus: a really bad
press day for Bush, with Greenspan warning of dire consequences
if he can't get off the plastic. And the Social Security battle looks now to be a choice between defeat and rout
And speaking of plastic
I worked with Garrett Graff
, creator of a new blog called Fishbowl DC, for the better part of a year on Howard Dean's presidential campaign. Garrett did a helluva job on our press team, but as far as I know he has never prostituted himself. Which is probably why he can't get one of those "easy and available" White House day passes that allowed Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert (a self-proclaimed $1200-a-weekend male hooker) access for two years. Garrett is journaling about his quest to get into the White House press room on Fishbowl
. This is definitely worth following.
Give'em hell, Garrett.
Today, the Supreme Court is hearing argument
on two cases involving challenges to displays of the Ten Commandments on government property. So, let's take a moment and reflect on the weight of the issue.
Next to drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was most proud of having authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
in 1777. He called the bill's enactment "the severest contest in which I have ever been engaged." Although the object of the bill was the protection of religious liberty, it was bitterly opposed by religious leaders. Why? Because Jefferson recognized that the greatest threat to religious liberty is religious tyranny, and his bill sought to proscribe any form of religious compulsion. Freedom of religion, to Jefferson, meant freedom from religion
Jefferson had reason to be concerned
. Nine of the thirteen colonies had established an "official" state religion. In Virginia, the Church of England had gained a foothold on power
, leading to severe persecution, including fines for failure to baptize children in the Church of England or failure to attend Church of England services. There was even a fine for holding any type of Quaker meeting or for even bringing Quakers into the state.
Jefferson's Virginia statute inspired the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
, the first sentence of which reads: "Congress shall create no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibitting the free exercise thereof." And Jefferson himself later referred to that sentence in the Constitution as having created a "wall of separation"
between church and state.
Two centuries later, that wall is in jeopardy. Justice Scalia, a staunch member of the Catholic fundamentalist organization Opus Dei
, is leading the charge for conservatives on the court who are trying to take a sledge hammer to Jefferson's wall. They don't believe the wall should exist. In fact, Scalia recently claimed
(speaking at a Synagogue no less) that separation of church and state was what led to Hitler's rise to power in Germany.
In fact, the opposite was true. In his "Decree concerning the Constitution of the German Protestant Church, of 14 July 1933,"
Adolf Hitler destroyed any semblance of church/state separation in Germany by merging the German Protestant Church into the Reich. In so doing, he appropriated the power of faith for his own political agenda. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Scalia will likely be the next Chief Justice in the event Justice Rehnquist steps down. By arguing that the Ten Commandments should be permitted on government property, he is about to demonstrate once again why he should never have been appointed to the Court in the first place.
"It is error alone which needs the support of government," Jefferson wrote. "Truth can stand by itself."
Doesn't make it so, no matter how many times you click your heels together --
Planned U.S. job cuts
rose above the 100,000 mark for the fourth month in five in February, with almost half of the layoffs stemming from corporate mergers, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said Wednesday.
Notice how careful everybody is to end the bad news with an upshot?
"The level of job-cutting activity in February certainly flies in the face of all the economic reports suggesting a job market turnaround," Challenger chief executive officer John Challenger said. "However, the numbers do not necessarily mean the job market or the economy are backsliding."
In the first two months of this year, 200,738 job cuts have been announced, 3 per cent more than the same period last year.
Still, even as many companies announced lay offs, employers announced plans to hire 41,984 new workers...
That's a good deal. And enough unfortunate people should continue to fall off the back end of unemployment figures to keep everything looking fine-sunshine on paper.
Good news, right?
In a 5-4 decision welcomed by diverse groups like the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the European Union, a "bitterly divided"
Supreme Court banned executions for juvenile killers yesterday.
The U.S. was the world's last executioner of juveniles.
The Court has added juveniles to the mentally retarded as groups not subject to capital punishments.
It's hard to believe that this is a disappointing decision for anyone. I mean, it's pretty barbaric to execute a child. People under the age of 18 are considered a child in the eyes of the law.
And Justice Anthony Kennedy mentioned this in the opinion, "The age of 18 is the point where society draws the line for many purposes between childhood and adulthood. It is, we conclude, the age at which the line for death eligibility ought to rest."
And he cited numerous psychological and medical studies about young minds vis-a-vis adult minds:
Young people "lack maturity," are "more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences" and have characters that are "not as well formed as that of an adult," Kennedy wrote.
But predictably, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and William Rehnquist dissented vigorously, while Justice Sandra Day O'Connor dissented separately.
And a pro-dealth-penalty group Criminal Justice Legal Foundation issued a statement through their attorney describing the decision as another example of judges overstepping their roles.
Anyone with a teenager at home can verify what the research clearly shows: Teens are still working on the reality "thing." While it is abundantly clear that youth criminals should be punished, execution is wholly inappropriate.
My hope is for rehabilitation and education for these teens to provide hope, incentive and motivation to become ethical and productive members of society. Americans love a redemption story...shouldn't troubled kids get the chance and the tools to remake themselves?
Today: Salazar's backbone
arrives in Washington (and not a moment too soon), Benefits crisis cripples the system
from the bottom up, and the Steamboat Pilot
on letting the sun shine in
Plus: Social Security privatization smells like toast
, College Republicans
ditch their boiler-rooms, and the pro-choice community draws a line in the sand
against appeasement-minded Dems.
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the Governor's State of the (fictional) State address, we certainly agree with this morning's Post
The state of Colorado claims a high school graduation rate
of 82 percent - a fine performance, above the national average. But hardly anyone can repeat this statistic with a straight face.
The Manhattan Institute released a report recently that put the state's graduation rate at 72 percent. The Urban Institute has it at 69 percent, and the Colorado Children's Campaign just last month reported that only 61 percent of all ninth-graders in 1999 graduated within four years.
One way or another, education experts acknowledge that Colorado has a poor record graduating its high school students. The amazing gap of 21 percentage points between these studies makes it clear that the state needs to change the way it calculates its graduation and dropout statistics.
A small step closer to the rest of the civilized world:
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Constitution forbids the execution
of killers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes, ending a practice used in 19 states.
The executions, the court said, violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
This is not a radical, liberal, communist, nor outlandish statement:
Taxes are the price we pay to support our community.
Independent-minded Republican CSU Political Science Professor John Straayer maintains that government is the obvious, preferable, efficient way to provide many public services like highways, education, health care for the vulnerable and parks.
Right-wingers such as Grover Norquist
describe their strategy to eliminate all government spending except for the military as "starve the beast"--keep cutting taxes until there's nothing left.
And it's all sold as "it's your dough--just say no."
And many Coloradans have bought into it. As Diane Carmen
opined, "Average Colorado voters have been trained to believe the only thing that matters is the next tax cut."
And not only is that wrong, it's not even desirable.
Taxes are the price we pay to live in a safe, healthy and prosperous community. They pay for national security, police and fire protection, clean water, fresh air, uncontaminated food, medical research, public schools, higher education, the justice system, decent roads and much, much more than I can enumerate here.
Taxes are our investment in a civilized and productive society.
Look, I don't want to pay a lot of taxes any more than the next person. But do I want to pay my fair share to support all of these services and protections on which we depend?
You bet I do.
So let's be honest about the so-called "anti-tax crusaders" are doing--they are undermining the public interest.
And let's start calling them on it. Next time one of your friends or co-workers start complaining about taxes, try telling them that taxes are an investment in today and tomorrow's society. The conversation has to start with all of us.
Today's highlights: No Governor Jane
(breathe now), rightwing consolation session in Fort Collins
, and Carman on why leadership is more
than a tax cut.
Plus: public getting wise
to Social Security privatization, the War on Women
in Beijing, and one of those 'judicial activists' reminds us that this is still America
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