Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Reading Room

I am so tired of packing that I need a diversion. I tried to listen to comedian Rush Limbaugh today for a while. His stuff is so counter intuitive and hypocritical these days that it is actually quite amusing to listen to for a while. I got a few guffaws out of his spew. After a while though it all just runs together in blah, blah, blah again. That is the difference in him and Sean Hannity though. Rush is such an pompous ignoramus sometimes that you can actually laugh. Hannity is so pathetic that all you can do is feel sadness and repulsion.

Kerry is likely to run again.
ABC's Teddy Davis reports: During a learning class held at C-SPAN's studios on Tuesday, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said he's "pretty much feeling" what you need to feel to run for President.
I think he would be a fine President but he needs to “bulldog up” if he decides to run.

This rightist site agrees that our elections are in peril.
A new study reported that researchers were able to hack one of the most widely used voting machines in the United States. The researchers asserted that the machine could be hacked within four minutes using $12 worth of tools. "By planting a virus far enough in advance, [a hacker] can ensure that a significant number of machines can steal votes on Election Day," the report by Princeton University said. The report comes after the House has
been warned of the vulnerability of U.S. voting machines and the prospect that the vote-count could be hampered in the forthcoming elections. Congress has failed to approve legislation that would require a paper trail for independent vote verification.

In a related story:
Three Senate Democrats proposed emergency legislation today to reimburse states for printing paper ballots that can be ready at polling places in case of problems with electronic voting machines on Nov. 7. The proposal is a response to grass-roots pressure and growing concern by local and state officials about touch-screen machines. An estimated 40 percent of voters will use those machines in the election. “If someone asks for a paper ballot they ought to be able to have it,” said Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a co-sponsor of the measure with Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Republican leadership aides were skeptical about the prospects for the measure.
Why!? I note that once again when someone needs to stand up for the American way, the American people and the Constitution Russ Feingold is there.
...Last week, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Maryland, a Republican, joined the skeptics, saying he lacked confidence in his state’s new $106 million electronic system and suggesting that state officials offer all voters paper ballots as an alternative. The proposed federal bill would provide 75 cents for each backup paper ballot that local officials print. If ballots are printed for half the 27 million voters expected to use touch-screen machines, Ms. Boxer said, her bill would cost Washington no more than $10.1 million. Barbara Burt, vice president and director of election reform programs at Common Cause, a good-governance advocacy group, said that the bill would have been stronger if it had required precincts to provide paper ballots in federal elections, but that it was a step in the right direction. “Lack of funding has been the main excuse that local election officials have used to avoid implementing paper precautions,” Ms. Burt said. “This takes that excuse away from them entirely.”

And then there is this:“We cannot allow the American people to lose faith in the most fundamental aspect of our democratic system – the right to vote,” Feingold said.....Kerry said, “It’s a disgrace that a Congress and an Administration which talks about exporting democracy around the world ignores the challenges of our own democracy right here at home.....that is why Russ Feingold and I are introducing our resolution today demanding election day back-up plans.
But who can think about something like this when there are GAY people running around!?

Well. SOME of the fundie nut cases are Muslim
This weekend, some of the nation’s leading conservatives — from Tony Snow and Attorney General Gonzales to Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) to Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity — appeared at the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit.”
An hour and a half after Snow’s speech, Bishop Wellington Boone, founder of
the Wellington Boone Ministries, took the stage and announced, .....Back in the days when I was a kid, and we see guys that don’t stand strong on principle, we call them “faggots.” … [People] that don’t stand up for what’s right, we say, “You’re sissified out!” “You’re a sissy!” That means you don’t stand up for principles......But I want to tell you something is, they don’t know, we’re driven by God to deal with this stuff.....Everywhere I get to speak, I am guarded by the grace of God........As Right Wing Watch notes, another speaker at the conference later claimed “the gay rights movement was inspired ‘from the pit of hell itself,’ and has a ’satanic anointment.’ … He suggested that the anti-Christ is himself gay, citing a verse from the book of Daniel saying the anti-Christ will have no desire for a woman.”
OK, I admit, I think homosexuality is unnatural and abnormal. I also do not believe that people choose to be gay any more than someone would “choose” not to be gay. Especially with the sigma attached it would be far easier to just be hetero. I know for me it is not a choice. I am heterosexual innately. It certainly prohibits procreation. I don't think there is a problem with that in the world today. God has created a world with a vast amount of diversity in nature and beyond. If they truly have a desire to stop this I would think a far more reasonable approach would be to address the science of why this happens. Unfortunately they put their fear and hate ahead of rational thought. They just want to boost their fragile egos and feel superior. It is hate speech. These people are playing God. God wants you to mind your own business. To quote their bible: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7-1/3) And: Many will say to me “Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you, away from me you evildoers.”(Matthew 7-21/23)

Rising health care costs are ignored..but hey, gas prices are down!(for now)
For the seventh straight year, premiums for employer-based health insurance rose more than twice as fast as overall inflation and wages, an annual survey of employers shows. The average 7.7 percent premium increase for 2006 was the smallest since 2000 and marked the third straight year that the rate of growth has slowed, according to the survey, released Wednesday by Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. But most Americans probably have felt little or no relief because their paychecks haven't kept pace with the rate hikes. Workers' earnings increased only 3.8 percent on average from April 2005 to April 2006, while inflation, up 3.5 percent, erodes their disposable income. Since 2000, inflation has jumped 18 percent and the amount that workers pay toward family health-care coverage has skyrocketed 84 percent, the survey found. Average wages have increased 20 percent over the same period. So even while the premium-rate increases have moderated - down from a 9.2 percent jump in 2005 and an 11.2 percent spike in 2004 - experts say there's no reason to celebrate...... This year, the average annual premium for single coverage is $4,242, of which workers pay $627, up from $610 in 2005. Family coverage costs an average of $11,480, with workers paying $2,973 annually, up from $2,713 last year. Since 2000, workers' annual contributions have increased on average by $293 for single coverage and by $1,354 for family coverage, the survey found. Rising health-care costs have forced many companies to scale back or drop coverage. Five million fewer workers are receiving job-based coverage in 2006 than in 2000, the survey found. And the percentage of firms that offer health benefits has fallen from 69 percent in 2000 to 61 percent this year. That's prompted concerns that the job-based health insurance system, which covers nearly 175 million Americans, could unravel in the face of runaway costs. Most at risk are millions of low-income workers who haven't taken coverage as employers require their workers to pay higher out-of-pocket costs. Forty-nine percent of employers surveyed indicated that they'll make workers pay more for coverage in the future. The number of uninsured Americans has grown for five straight years, with 46.6 million lacking coverage in 2005......Smaller firms are most likely not to provide coverage. Only 48 percent of companies with three to nine workers offer health coverage, compared with 73 percent of those with 10 to 24 employees, 87 percent with 25 to 49 employees and more than 90 percent of those with 50 or more workers.

How's the economy these days? This from the certainly not liberal media Bloomberg.
The U.S. lost its position as the world's most competitive economy to Switzerland as budget and trade deficits prompted a slide to sixth in the World Economic Forum's annual rankings. Switzerland jumped from fourth place last year and Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Singapore all overtook the U.S. with Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. rounding out the top ten in the study of 125 nations by the Geneva-based forum. Switzerland, home to companies such as Nestle SA and Novartis AG, topped the table because of its reputation for innovation, research and development and its scientific infrastructure, the forum said, adding Scandinavian economies performed well for similar reasons.
Innovation? Science? Universal health care? Oh no! Those darned liberal countries are kickin our ass!

Here's a big seller. The Screech sex video!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Journey Through The Past, Just Like The Present

Since Faux News decided to do a walk down memory lane with President Clinton I thought we might take a stroll our selves. From Americablog and an article written in 2002 here are a number of items that point out where Bush failed to take Bin Laden seriously, including:

Bush concluded in February 2001 that bin Laden was behind the USS Cole attack. Then Bush did absolutely nothing to respond.
At least twice, Bush conveyed the message to the Taliban that the United States would hold the regime responsible for an al Qaeda attack. But after concluding that bin Laden's group had carried out the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole – a conclusion stated without hedge in a Feb. 9 briefing for Vice President Cheney – the new administration did not choose to order armed forces into action.

Rumsfeld cut extra money for counterterrorism.
In his first budget, Bush spent $13.6 billion on counterterrorist programs across 40 departments and agencies. That compares with $12 billion in the previous fiscal year, according to the Office of Management and Budget. There were also somewhat higher gaps this year, however, between what military commanders said they needed to combat terrorists and what they got. When the Senate Armed Services Committee tried to fill those gaps with $600 million diverted from ballistic missile defense, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he would recommend a veto. That threat came Sept. 9.
Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger warned Condi Rice about Al Qaeda
"I said to Condi, 'You're going to spend more time during your four years on terrorism generally and al Qaeda specifically than any other issue,' " he said. Bush administration officials gave a similar account.
Clinton staff met weekly to coordinate anti-terror battle, Bush's advisers didn't have nearly the same zeal for the issue.
He noticed a difference on terrorism. Clinton's Cabinet advisers, burning with the urgency of their losses to bin Laden in the African embassy bombings in 1998 and the Cole attack in 2000, had met "nearly weekly" to direct the fight, Kerrick said. Among Bush's first-line advisers, "candidly speaking, I didn't detect" that kind of focus, he said. "That's not being derogatory. It's just a fact. I didn't detect any activity but what Dick Clarke and the CSG were doing."

No need to do a blame game in my book but the right needs to get off the Clintons fault they have used for everything from 9/11 to their bad pastrami sandwich. The blame for our current failed policy lies directly with the policy makers of the last 6 years. I can not remember a time in my life when this country has gone so far backwards in meeting its goals. We need real ,strong leadership. They can say that is what they are all day long but the facts and reality refute it. A business person with their track record would have been removed some time ago.

We heard this week of a story that Pakistan was told go with us or get bombed back to the stone age. Here is a story in Asia times from 2004 that says the same thing. It also has tidbits like this:

If the 9-11 Commission is really looking for a smoking gun, it should look no further than at Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmad, the director of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at the time......In early October 2001, Indian intelligence learned that Mahmoud had ordered flamboyant Saeed Sheikh - the convicted mastermind of the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl - to wire US$100,000 from Dubai to one of hijacker Mohamed Atta's two bank accounts in Florida. A juicy direct connection was also established between Mahmoud and Republican Congressman Porter Gross and Democratic Senator Bob Graham. They were all in Washington together discussing Osama bin Laden over breakfast when the attacks of September 11, 2001, happened. .......On September 10, the Pakistani daily The News reported that the Mahmoud visit to the United States "triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council". .....According to the Washington Post, and also to sources in Islamabad, the Mahmoud-Graham-Goss meeting lasted until the second plane hit Tower 2 of the World Trade Center. Graham later said they were talking about terrorism coming from Afghanistan, which means they were talking about bin Laden. Pakistani intelligence sources told Asia Times Online that on the afternoon of September 11 itself, as well as on September 12 and 13, Armitage met with Mahmoud with a stark choice: either Pakistan would help the US against al-Qaeda, or it would be bombed back to the Stone Age.......Million-dollar questions remain. Did Mahmoud know when and how the attacks of September 11 would happen? Did Musharraf know? Could the Bush administration have prevented September 11? It's hard to believe high echelons of the CIA and FBI were not aware of the direct link between the ISI and alleged chief hijacker Mohammed Atta. On October 7, Mahmoud was demoted from the ISI. By that time, Washington obviously knew of the connection between Mahmoud, Saeed Sheikh and Mohamed Atta: the FBI knew it.

Remember this story is from 2004. Read the whole thing for a stinging indictment of the Cheney Administration and questions that need to be answered.