Easter Lemming Liberal News

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Neil's Young's Garage - Free Streaming

The new Chron.com reader political "centrist" is upset by an anti-war album, I guess. Or was it just the impeachment song? She mentioned it again later.

Looking at her post again she felt the need to worry about impeachment because some of her friends have been talking about it.
Some of Polimom's friends are talking about censure and impeachment, yet I don't see that we can do that right now... or am I the only one that thinks we would devolve into internal chaos?

How low would people prune the administrative tree? With whom would they be replaced? How long will that take? And what would be going on in the rest of the world while America takes time out to deal with all of that?
I thought this was a misplaced and needless worry but I am more encouraged that PoliMom's friends, voices in the heartland, are considering impeachment.





Public Opinion Watch - Election 2006

An overall look at the numbers - can the GOP House and Senate withstand a Katrina of disapproval? Lots of more recent good stuff from Ruy Teixeira is at the Emerging Democrat Majority blog.




"Oh, Say Can You Listen"


TalkLeft makes a good point.
President "I'm a uniter, not a divider" Bush should embrace the patriotism displayed by Spanish-speaking Americans who enjoy listening to a version of the national anthem in their native language. Not so.
"I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English," Bush said at the White House after an independent music producer released a Spanish-language version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Bush is pandering to the likes of Minuteman Peter Lanteri, who maintains that the song is "a slap in the face to America." A song that praises America and its national values can't reasonably be considered disrespectful to America, but reason isn't the driving force that motivates the criticism.




Hastert Caught Switching to Gas-Guzzler
After holding a press conference at a local gas station in Washington, D.C., House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was photographed several blocks away getting out of the hybrid automobile he used at the event and getting back into his gasoline-powered SUV.




Andrea Clarke transport deal falls apart


The local Houston women threatened with euthanasia by St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital may be in jeopardy again after transportation to an acute-care facility in the Chicago area falls apart. Andrea Clarke who is on dialysis and a respirator has been at St. Luke's since November. Andrea has a history of heart problems and complications began after open heart surgery in January.
The family and St. Luke's agreed Thursday to transfer Clark to Glenshire Nursing & Rehab Centre, a long-term, acute-care facility in the Chicago suburb of Richton Park. St. Luke's told the family it would pay the entire cost of moving Clark, estimated at about $15,000, but only if the family decided by Thursday.

The deal was canceled Friday after Glenshire doctors realized Clark's condition was too complicated for the level of care they provide.

Thursday's announcement had appeared to defuse the controversy, which has raged in online forums for a week. - Houston Chronicle, Todd Ackerman
That was the update, here was a more expansive story that also mentions the problems with the Texas law. It is not clear and not known if St. Lukes still plans to pull the plug this week but some believe this. Most hospitals in Texas will not take a patient another hospital has pronounced terminal.


Friday, April 28, 2006


Pasadena Environmental Fair Saturday

I became aware of this and became involved because Janette Sexton wanted to go there.

As a political candidate most active on environmental issues an environmental fair is her kind of crowd. She decided she needed a booth to sit down because of her increasing walking and standing problems. The City of Pasadena organizing this refused to give her one. No politics, no politicians allowed. Much like the Pasadena City Council they don't want that political speech getting in the way of all that mildly free speech and advertisements. I suggested the ACLU be contacted and reportedly lawyers from both sides got into a yelling match over the phone. Pasadena officials under the current administration has a serious problem understanding civics, government and the Constitution.

I will be there early tomorrow to see what happens, sounds like fun. I don't know what kind of restrictions they were trying to put on "politicking" and when I see all the other politicians there I'll ask them.








Kuff's World: Poll watching: SurveyUSA on Texas Governor's race

As I hoped for, Charles Kuffner is the new Houston Chronicle Democratic political blogger. Headline is to his blog on the most recent poll about the Texas governor's race.

Not looking good at all for Bell.

15% Bell (D)
16% Friedman (I)
25% Strayhorn (I)
39% Perry (R)

His analysis of the polls and the race is spot on as well - meaning it agrees with mine. Due to straight ticket voting and partisan activism Bell's actual floor is 20-25% and he has a shot at a win. This lack of name recognition and poor marketing is a big problem however.

BTW, I have no problem with SurveyUSA automated phone surveys but their likely voters methodology needs work.








Andrea Clarke Is Safe, Other Texans Still In Danger

In keeping with the bipartisan outrage over this case, ProLifeBlogs has the wrap-up. Andrea is being moved to Chicago hospital after St. Luke's lawyers play hardball to get a decision now and warn about any hospital in Texas.

The lesson , get publicity fast, don't have any brain damage in Texas, don't cost your hospitals and insurance companies a lot of money.




Thursday, April 27, 2006

TexasSparkle: Update on Andrea Clarke

Looks like the hospital legal team is trying to boot this case far, far away, they are offering to transport Andrea to a Ohio hospital if the family decides immediately.

Democratic Underground discussion.

Death by Ethics Committee
We should also note that the Clarke controversy isn't anything like the Terri Schiavo case. Schiavo's tube-supplied food and fluids were ordered withdrawn (supposedly) to carry out her wishes. But Clarke apparently wants to live and her family all agree that she should continue to be sustained. In other words, it is as if Michael Schiavo and Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, agreed to maintain Terri's feeding tube but a hospital ethics committee overruled their decisions and doctors removed the tube anyway.

Hospitals around the country — nobody knows how many — have been quietly promulgating internal rules to permit patients like Andrea Clarke to be denied wanted treatment to maintain their lives. But the legality of internal ethics committees acting as quasi courts to order unilateral treatment refusal remains uncertain in most states.

Texas, however, has become ground zero for futile-care theory thanks to a draconian state law passed in 1999 — of dubious constitutionality, some believe — that explicitly permits a hospital ethics committee to refuse wanted life-sustaining care. Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, if the physician disagrees with a patient's decision to receive treatment, he or she can take it to the hospital ethics committee. A committee hearing is then scheduled, all interested parties explain their positions, and the members deliberate in private.



Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Troubling Case of Andrea Clarke of Houston, TX


Extreme right and extreme left are coming together over an example of Bush's legacy of mercy killings in Texas. Texas is the only state where a committee in a hospital, regardless of family wishes, decides if they want to keep paying to keep someone alive.

In the latest case, a 54-year-old woman went in for a heart operation and developed bed sores and complications. The hospital has decided to to pull the plug on her even with no loss of mental functioning.
Andrea, when she is not medicated into unconsciousness (and even when she is, and the medication has worn off to some degree) is aware and cognizant. She has suffered no brain damage to the parts of her brain responsible for thought and reason, or speech. She has only suffered loss of some motor control. The reason that the physician gave to medicate her so much is that she is suffering from intractable pain in the sacral region (in other words, she has a bedsore that causes her pain).
An update here and here as it has united Christians and non-Christians on both the left and right.

...Finally making the mainstream media. And a Chronicle blog.
It was a 1999 state law that gave hospitals the authority to remove patients from life support.

The only requirement is that the hospital must give a family 10 days notice to find another facility that would care for their loved one.

Andrea Clark’s family is trying to that, but if they are unsuccessful, Clark will be taken off life support April 30.





Off the Kuff:- Latest School Tax Bill News

All completely under GOP control with leadership prodding their members to trust them or go down to defeat for doing nothing. The Hochberg plan cannot be debated or introduced but would provide more tax relief for more people by tripling the homestead exemption. So far no money for schools - just tax cuts and a business tax increase with huge loopholes.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Katrina, Rita only the beginning - Global warming behind 2005 hurricanes
The record Atlantic hurricane season last year can be attributed to global warming, several top experts, including a leading U.S. government storm researcher, said on Monday.

"The hurricanes we are seeing are indeed a direct result of climate change and it's no longer something we'll see in the future, it's happening now," said Greg Holland, a division director at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Holland told a packed hall at the American Meteorological Society's 27th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology that the wind and warmer water conditions that fuel storms that form in the Caribbean are "increasingly due to greenhouse gases. There seems to be no other conclusion you can logically draw."






Robert A. Pape makes the New York Times

Too long ago to find I referenced his study "Dying to Win" that showed terrorist attacks are against occupiers and supporters of occupiers and are often done by relatives of those harmed by governments. He concluded there is "little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism."

"No matter how you slice it, it's American policy that's underneath this, not Islamic fundamentalism."

His new study shows that Al Qaeda is pursuing a successful and stepped-up campaign since 9/11 to compel the withdrawal of Western military forces from the Middle East.




A little Right-wing Sparkle at the Chron


The second political reader blogger is a Republican who grow up in Mississippi but used to be a Democrat. Looking through her other diary that should be clarified as used to be until she went to college and fell in love with Reagan politics. So, she may have voted for a Democrat or two her first time at the ballot box, or not. She supposedly is as Arianna Huffington was, a conservative Republican with a heart and a social conscience. Arianna, after being feted by Newt Gingrich as the conscience of the GOP, wised up and left the party after being exposed to the dark underbelly of GOP politics. Sparkler has embraced God's Own Party.

Rightwingsparkler indicates that her father also used to be an elected Democrat and implies they supported desegregation. Most elected Mississippi Democrats that long ago were racists and are now Republicans. Which White politician in Mississippi supported desegregation and didn't get voted out of office? The only evidence against the supposition he was just like all White Democratic leaders in Mississippi of that time was she says that she was among the first whites to attend a desegregated school. But by the late 60's that is actually the typical experience of whites growing up in the South while meanwhile their political leaders are using code words or not so code words to identify where they stood, leaving the Democratic Party in droves and railing against the Federal government. In sparkler's case, she looks like a typical favored daughter of the South. I have searched her sites for examples of her growing up but all I can find is her "explanation" that Democrats cause black poverty and broken homes. I don't expect great illumination from her, everything will likely be like just another right-wing robot - Southern Mom style. You can also look at her links to Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin for an idea of some of her current heroes.

Based on this record there is room for another political reader blog at the Chron - a conservative Democrat concerned about values, of course. Zell Miller or Joe Liebermann may be available, if Joememtum isn't too liberal. (Suggesting Zell and Joe was sarcasm for you Republicans.) Arianna Huffington might also be considered by the Chronicle, she moved away from the right but is never quite comfortable with the Democratic Party.





Just 18 Families Bankroll Estate Tax Repeal Campaign
The 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax (aka the Paris Hilton Tax) on heirs of the super wealthy has been financed and coordinated by just 18 families, according to a new report by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy.

The families include “the candy magnate Mars family, Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, Kochs of Koch Industries and Dorrance family of the Campbell’s Soup Co.” Together, they are worth a total of $185.5 billion. The estate tax repeal would “collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion.”
This post was just a digest from Think Progress, direct link on headline.




Howling Latina: Liberal, liberal, liberal

I became aware of another liberal blogger from my comments.



Two Ohio Churches' Political Activities Threaten Tax-Exempt Status
In a challenge to the ethics of conservative Ohio religious leaders and the fairness of the Internal Revenue Service, a group of 56 clergy members contends that two churches have gone too far in supporting a Republican candidate for governor.

Two complaints filed with the tax agency say that the large Columbus area churches, active in President Bush's narrow Ohio win in 2004, violated their tax-exempt status by pushing the candidacy of J. Kenneth Blackwell, who is the secretary of state and the favored candidate of Ohio's religious right.

The clergy members said the churches improperly held political activities and allowed Republican organizations to use their facilities.

The goal of the challenge is "for these churches to stop acting like electioneering organizations," said the Rev. Eric Williams, pastor of North Congregational United Church of Christ. "I don't want to harm or demonize these churches. I want these churches to act legally."
The two churches are very active in the Christian Reconstructionist movement, Dominionism, an attempt to create a Bible-based American government system. This belief is very wrong theologically, democratically and historically. Kevin Phillips, who I feel will be recognized as one of the great historians of our time, warns about the GOP's turn to "God's Own Party." Bush believes God runs my foreign policy which is why there is no disagreement permitted. Conservative religious people who are similarly authoritarian are a main element of his base of support.

Churches with a political program need to have their tax-exempt status revoked. Their are several organization that I have belonged to and have supported who are very aware of the lines of what is permitted in terms of political advocacy and what is not. The main examples being civil rights groups, the Unitarian Universalist Church and KPFT alternative radio. Conservatives seem much more willing to say the rules don't apply to them.

This post should be greatly expanded but severe allergies and my methods of combating them have made me tired, given me a headache and zapped my energy as well as making me feel and sound miserable.




Gas Prices by County


Interesting, a very odd picture map is drawn of US gas pricing.

Meanwhile the GOP leadership, confirming their organizational skills again, calls for a gas-gauging investigation. This Chronicle story had no Democratic views. Senator Chuck Schumer called for an investigation a week ago on gas prices. There were many such Democratic calls - all unmentioned in this piece.


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Sunday, April 23, 2006

I'm The Decider (Koo-Koo-Ka-Choo)

I had this yesterday but Blogger and Windows lost it. More music and videos from the Contagious Festival, also Don Knotts as Dubya!


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Why Tom Tomorrow is Terrific and Oklahoma sucks

Robert Nagle went back a few years and found where a Tom Tomorrow cartoon caused an uproar in Oklahoma leading to the cartoon being dropped by a paper and a law firm associated with the paper losing school contracts.

The Religious Right in Oklahoma is large, militant, and organized. They have driven small business owners to bankruptcy and even criminal convictions in the case of comic book stores and video rental chains. Libraries and universities have often been attacked and censored. These actions often occur under the guise of protecting people from child pornography. The most famous case was confiscating the Academy Award winning film The Tin Drum. Of course, some victims had their day in court and Oklahoma taxpayers had to fork over a million dollars. (More on law and disorder in Oklahoma.)

One member of the religious Mafia in Oklahoma - Mary Fowler was interviewed by Rose Aquilar. And then Mary Fowler responds in comments but it degenerates from there. Digby calls Mary Fowler an example of DeLay's dupes and suggest that the Republican party could lose religious support if more of the GOP immoral wrong-doing is exposed.

Recently groups like the Inter-Faith Alliance have gotten stronger in Oklahoma and actively oppose the radical religious right from a Christian perspective.

There is a lot of good material here on the war being waged for the soul of America. Also here on moving from talk to action and at an atheist/agnostic site keeping up on Christian Right news. Oklahoma is only the tip of the tumor.




"After three years, after 150,000 dead, why I was wrong about Iraq"

Sanity is slowly returning to warhawks.
The lamest defence I could offer – one used by many supporters of the war as they slam into reverse gear – is that I still support the principle of invasion, it’s just the Bush administration screwed it up. But as one anti-war friend snapped at me when I mooted this argument, “Yeah, who would ever have thought that supporting George Bush in the illegal invasion of an Arab country would go wrong?” She’s right: the truth is that there was no pure Platonic ideal of The Perfect Invasion to support, no abstract idea we lent our names to. There was only Bush, with his cluster bombs, depleted uranium, IMF-ed up economic model, bogus rationale and unmistakable stench of petrol, offering his war, his way.

I thought that whatever happens, however it occurs, it will be better. In that immediate rush, I – like most Iraqis – failed to see that the Bush administration’s warped motives would lead to a warped occupation. A war for oil would mean that as Baghdad was looted, troops would be sent to guard the oil ministry, not the hospitals – a bleak harbinger of things to come.

It is very hard to see a solution, but I believe the threads of one are visible. The polls show that most of these violent militias draw their support from the fact that they oppose the foreign troops, not from the fact that they massacre fellow-Iraqis. So the best way to drain their support – and dampen the inertia towards civil war – is to withdraw the troops now. Iraqis can see this very clearly: a poll recently conducted by the Ministry of Defence (hardly an anti-war source) found that 80 percent of Iraqis want out “immediately” so they can deal with the remaining jihadists and anti-democratic fundamentalists themselves. (In a revealing mirror-image, a Zogby poll of US troops in Iraq found that 72 percent believe the occupation should end within the year. This will soon be a surreal war where the unwilling occupy the unwilling.)



Saturday, April 22, 2006

Houston Chronicle has a political blog from a reader


She was a political blogger before she added the Chronicle blog. As I expected, PoliMom, Too is a Centrist on the political test. On political parties, she says she is Independent. She and her husband disagree rather she has a slight lean to Republicans or to the Democratic Party.

She is also prolific. It is nice to see her on the website.

One thing I check is what memes from the GOP noise machine she has bought into. So far the only things I have seen her write that are really "out there" are that impeaching the President would throw this country into internal chaos! The other in the same post is that she's "positive that Iran's recent display of apparent insanity is absolutely connected to our utter lack of confidence in our elected leadership"!

Say what? Iran's rhetoric is connected to their internal politics and their crazy religious fanaticism just like Bush's crazy rhetoric is connected to our internal politics and our crazy religious fanaticism. Does centrist also mean a lack of understanding of other cultures? Is everything considered from the false understanding of the United States as the center of the universe?

I think that she may have a hard time remaining a centrist Independent. People are choosing sides in politics and as Mark Schmidt says we're all partisans now.
This November, even if the Democrats fall short of capturing the House, we are likely to find a Congress made up of two parties that are more ideologically homogeneous and more regionally based than ever in history. There will be no truly conservative Democrats (some opportunists, of course), but that's been the case since 1994 and the party-switches that followed. But there will also be no significant number of Republicans who are pro-environment (simple measure: the 34 Republicans who voted against Rep. Pombo's near-repeal of the Endangered Species Act includes all of the NY, CT, PA representatives mentioned [as endangered.])

This will be an enormous challenge for, for example, environmental activists, because they are accustomed to operating across party lines, and in general it means that those trying to move any good policy will find themselves, through no choice of their own, more deeply embedded within the Democratic Party and more consistently opposed to Republican policies.
I used to call myself a moderate independent instead of LiberalGuy, the latest alias I use. I feel one party has moved way in the wrong direction. On the other hand, I was firmly anti-Nixon and was not a supporter of Reagan. I voted for the best person and sometimes voted for a Libertarian or a Green. Even increasing partisanship is not necessarily a bad thing. At one time the Texas Democratic Party [history] was locked in battles between the liberal wing and the conservative wing. Those conservatives are mostly Republican now. It is convenient to have all the people whose ideas you oppose choose one label. I better quit before I get started on how "liberal" was redefined by the conservatives.

The political debate blog I tried to get the Chronicle to start died. Jeff and I sometimes get into it in the comments as a replacement.





GOP: We are doomed in 2008 - GOP former donor says they deserve it

As expected, he has nothing good to say about Democrats but bashes his party pretty solidly. (I had accidentally posted this in Sexual Lemming, maybe it is an example of sadomasochism.)


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Texans Going To Pawn Shops For Money For Gas
CBS) DALLAS High gasoline prices are causing some Texas residents to take desperate measures. Pawn shops say their business is increasing, with some customers saying they're selling things to buy gas.

Pumps ran dry at scattered gas stations as fuel terminals and stations struggled to adapt to ethanol in fuel mixes, causing some customers to hark back to widespread gasoline shortages of the past.




Texas Democratic Party Offers Better School Plan
Several House Democrats complained that the $3 billion cut from public education in 2003 has now grown to $4.35 billion. They are suggesting using some of the $8.2 billion surplus to restore those cuts.

Hochberg said the details would be filled in once the size of the Perry tax plan is established.

In the past, Hochberg's legislation has called for a $3,000-a-year pay raise for teachers at a cost of about $1 billion a year.

Instead of just cutting the school tax rates, as the Perry plan does, Hochberg's bill would triple the homestead exemption (the amount of a home's value exempt from being taxed) from $15,000 to $45,000. He said that would give every homeowner a $450 tax break in any school district taxing at the state's current maximum rate, though the savings would be less once tax rates go down.

The Democrats said Thursday that they believe the House would approve Hochberg's measure if Craddick gives them a vote. They noted that a similar bill by Hochberg last year received 80 votes.



Friday, April 21, 2006

The Media on Speed, DC Democrats on Prozac

An interview with the face of The Nation.

I made a better headline which is what she implies but doesn't state.





Krugman - Hope that 2004 was height of bad politics and bad government

ALSO - The Bush lies about tax cuts.
The point isn't merely that the Bush administration has squandered the budget surplus it inherited on tax cuts for the wealthy. It's the fact that the administration has spent its entire term in office lying about the nature of those tax cuts.





The Bank of Mom and Dad - New York Times

Many young people well after college continue to use money from parents.









Another shady GOP couple paying themselves from contributions
IMAGINE THAT every time members of Congress received a $1,000 campaign contribution, they could skim $150 off the top and put it straight into their personal bank accounts. Sound shady? That is, in effect, how Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) and his wife, Julie, operate. According to our review of campaign finance records, Mrs. Doolittle has received at least $215,000 from Mr. Doolittle's various campaign committees since 2001. This doesn't include $6,800 in payments to another of Mrs. Doolittle's companies, Events Plus, before she started doing his fundraising work. She's taken in nearly $100,000 during the 2006 campaign alone.
The 2006 campaign has just started. This is only one of the most blatent examples of candidates collecting salaries from donors. At least this money making scam doesn't involve setting up charities so the donors can get a tax write-off for their bribes.






CBS News - Bush was told before war there were no WMDs
A CIA official who had a top role during the run-up to the Iraqi war charges the White House with ignoring intelligence that said there were no weapons of mass destruction or an active nuclear program in Iraq.

The former highest ranking CIA officer in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, also says that while the intelligence community did give the White House some bad intelligence, it also gave the White House good intelligence — which the administration chose to ignore.

"The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy." - Tyler Drumheller.

"It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it's an intelligence failure. … This was a policy failure. … I think, over time, people will look back on this and see this is going to be one of the great, I think, policy mistakes of all time."

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

FOXNews - Bush Approval at 33%
Approval among Republicans is below 70 percent for the first time of Bush's presidency. Two-thirds (66 percent) approve of Bush's job performance today, down almost 20 percentage points from this time last year when 84 percent of Republicans approved. Among Democrats, 11 percent approve today, while 14 percent approved last April.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Unionization Drive in Miami finds former Clinton Cabinet Secretary against workers

I have been asked several times to write or post on this issue of the wealthy liberal college president against the janitors but deferred thinking it was a local issue.

With hunger strikes turning deadly I would urge Dr. Donna Shalala to talk to the workers.
The janitors have been on a hunger strike for 13 days, the students for 6 — all part of a labor dispute that has turned unusually personal, with faculty members, students, union leaders and members of the clergy sharply criticizing Dr. Shalala.

Day after day, the janitors and their supporters heap invective on Dr. Shalala, who was President Bill Clinton's secretary for health and human services, saying she has not done enough to pressure the university's cleaning contractor to grant union recognition.

And day after day the hunger strikers grow weaker as they lie in tents set up in a protest zone they call Freedom Village.

"If you think of Donna Shalala's history, she has this persona of being an advocate for poor, marginalized people in this country," said Frank Corbishley, the university's Episcopal chaplain. "In this dispute she's clearly been an enemy of the working poor."

Four of the 10 janitors who began fasting two weeks ago had to stop for health reasons, including one who suffered a minor stroke, said Secky Fascione, a union organizer. Some strikers were visiting university trustees Monday and asking them "to intervene before somebody dies," Ms. Fascione said.




Civil War starting in streets of Baghdad
It's a reality that has Washington scrambling to avert civil war as Iraqi politicians struggle to form a government four months after parliamentary elections.

A U.S. military spokesman said 50 insurgents attacked Iraqi forces in the middle of the night in a seven-hour battle that killed five rebels and wounded an Iraqi soldier.

Fighting was so fierce that U.S. reinforcements were brought in to the northern district, home to some of Iraq's most hardcore Sunni guerrillas and the Abu Hanifa mosque, near where Saddam Hussein was last seen in public before going into hiding.

Sporadic fighting continued on Tuesday.

"There are six people among our dead and wounded. Just half an hour ago a sniper killed Ali," said Mohammad, a 28-year-old Adhamiya resident, of his friend.

While the February bombing of a Shi'ite shrine pushed Iraq to the edge of civil war and left hundreds of bodies with bullet holes and torture marks on the streets, the scenario in Adhamiya is more alarming, despite fewer casualties.

It appeared to be the first example of a large-scale, open sectarian street battle in the capital, if not all of Iraq.

"We saw about 100 to 150 men show up in cars. Some were wearing military uniforms and others were in civilian clothes," he said, as five gunmen stood guard over one of the main roads leading into Adhamiya.

Sunni leaders have accused the Shi'ite-led government of sanctioning militia death squads, a charge it denies.

"What happened in Adhamiya is an evil act by an armed militia backed by security and government operatives," Dhafer al-Ani, a member of the biggest Sunni Alliance, told a news conference.


ADDED: Latest News from Juan Cole which has the battles in Adhamiyah, Ramadi and more bad news.

"I don't think there will ever be a U.S.-style democracy in Iraq," Rumsfeld said in an interview with the Dubai-based al-Arabiya satellite TV channel.









The astounding lack of accountability, common sense and ethics at Texas Ethics Commission

TEC has ruled that Texas Employees Retirement System (ERS) trustee - and GOP power broker - Bill Ceverha, and future politicians, do not have to disclose the value of gifts they receive.
Since 2001, Ceverha patrons Bob Perry and Louis Beecherl have contributed $1.9 million to the three GOP politicians who collectively appointed all of the ethics commissioners. During this same period, Bob Perry and Louis Beecherl contributed an additional $1.8 million to Texas’ state Republican Party.

Bill Ceverha is the first flunky to take the bullet for Texans for a Republican Majority’s illegal intervention in Texas’ 2002 election. If Texas’ top donor was willing to help pay Ceverha’s legal bills—and if Ceverha didn’t want to disclose the magnitude of Bob Perry’s gift—then apparently the least that the Republican leadership could do was to obliterate the public’s right to know about it. That’s exactly what their ethics appointees did.







Pullitizer Prize Winner Dana Priest on Iran
Albany, N.Y.: Do you think it is likely that a U.S. military attack on Iran would send the Iraq situation spiraling completely out of control, and cause the Shia to turn on the U.S. forces, rendering the success of the Iraq mission irretrievably lost?

Dana Priest: Yes. Highly likely if a strike were to be conducted in this current unstable Iraq environment.

Austin, Tex.: The US attacks Iran. In the resulting uproar in the Muslim world, Musharraf is overthrown (or worse), and an Islamist government comes to power in Pakistan. Then we have a hostile Muslim country that doesn't just have a potential plan for acquiring nuclear weapons but that actually has the weapons now.

A likely scenario?

Dana Priest: Not so far-fetched.
Washington Post news division wins four Pulitzer Prizes, editorial side zip - a WP blogger reaction.




Steal This Newspaper, Bad Clueless Management in Practice

One of the healthiest newspaper chains in the country, else why would it be on an expansion spree, launched a no free papers to reporters policy at one newspaper. Guess what happened?

This is also typical clueless modern management, facing major problems it takes aim at a tiny perk for its workers.








We were hit with a rolling blackout yesterday afternoon

I didn't know what was going on but I just shrugged and took a shower. High temperature throughout the state, scheduled maintenance for power plants and the unexplained removal of some plants caused emergency rolling blackouts. More may be expected today as we are experiencing very early summer weather with some parts of Texas hitting 100 degrees. Texas power is on one grid.
The normal high in Houston this time of year is 79 degrees. The record, 92 degrees, was hit in 1987, according to Weather Central, and the city is expected to hit 91 today.
You think the weather might be warming up?





Monday, April 17, 2006



Another General Speaks Out - TIME
"When I introduce the Secretary of Defense to my troops, I'm going to be a loyal subordinate. But it was boiling inside me. Every time I looked at him, I was thinking about... that sh**ty war plan, I was thinking about Abu Ghraib, and I was thinking about the challenges I had every day trying to rebuild the Iraqi military that he disbanded." -- Major General John Batiste




Things go better without Coke

Coca-Cola's anti-union, anti-environmental actions, questions over its marketing and health effects of its products have lead to an international backlash against the world's most popular soft drink. Most of the effective protests have been lead by student groups.





Going After Migrants, but Not Employers
Doris Meissner, who was immigration commissioner under President Bill Clinton [said] members of Congress, particularly Republicans, do not want to antagonize business.

"There was hypocrisy," Ms. Meissner said. "On one hand, you say you want enforcement, and then you see it's not so easy to live with the consequences in your own district."

Indeed, the lack of vigorous enforcement against employers who hire illegal workers has been widely viewed as the main reason that 850,000 immigrants cross the border illegally each year. Facing little in the way of penalties, employers feel few qualms about hiring them for meatpacking, construction, agriculture and janitorial work....

The number of federal immigration agents who focus on work-site enforcement plunged to 65 nationwide in 2004, from 240 in 1999, according to the Government Accountability Office. Moreover, the government reduced the number of notices of intent to fine employers who hired illegal immigrants to just 3 in 2004 from 417 in 1999.
To cut down on illegal immigration it is more important to stop the employers than close the borders. Many get here legally but then stay illegally.








The Pentagon Preps for Iran

Another excellent, if general, report on the recent status of U.S. military attack plans for Iran. The neocons will strike while Bush is President unless they are assured Iran is not a threat to Israel. Why we would attack Iran for another country is something that should be taken up with elected officials.

Meanwhile a bipartisan coalition in DC is urging direct talks with Iran before the neocons prevail in their push for an attack.

Just because a course of action is foolish, irrational, costly, and bloody doesn’t mean the Bush Administration won’t pursue it.





The Political Objectives Test


I am a Social-Liberal.

I scored 64 Equality, 64 Liberty, and 21 Stability!

My commitment to both liberty and equality puts me in the hazy area that exists between the Liberal and the Socialist. I value liberty particularly in cultural and personal life. I also value government intervention to promote equity in economic life while still supporting private enterprise. For me liberty and equality are two parts of the same condition. Everyone has to be free to pursue their own way-of-life but in order for that it happen everyone must start with a similar basic standard of living.

Link: The Political Objectives Test written by Originaluddite on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test



Sunday, April 16, 2006

DeLay lies in his response to Bell

Let me point you to a long list of admonishments of DeLay by the House Ethics Commission as well as many more ethical violations they hadn't gotten to.


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Deer Park Broadcaster - - Council decides not to pursue proposal to oursource maintenance at golf course

This was a victory, sorta. Deer Park did not outsource the jobs I wrote a letter to the editor about. It is only a partial victory because some city council members just want to outsource all the jobs at once. Only the mayor seems to have agreed with my letter that this was a quality of life issue for workers and he ignored the probable political corruption angle. There was a follow-up letter to the paper that agreed with my position that paying contractors to pay low wages the city is unwilling to pay itself is harmful in many ways. The Battleground Democrats have taken a stand against outsourcing and have both letters available.







Bush's Iran war already 'underway'


The Raw Story - Retired colonel claims U.S. military operations are already 'underway' in Iran.

US arming and supplying terrorist group against Iranian leaders.

Blair tells Bush this time he is going too far for UK support.

Why nuclear bunker bombs are a very, very bad idea - scientific flash explanation.

Professional Wargamer Col. Gardiner - Iran attack a very bad idea, but the decision has already been made.

Hullabaloo has more on Bush's secret war and the radical right blaming it on Clinton.

Whiskey Bar is suggesting we party like it is 1938, or 72.

What can you do with this Congress, and this President, if he launches a war this year? Billmon also thinks that is asked and answered.

Neocons were on a blitz this week urging war in the media.


hAPPY eA
STER. BLACK EASTER?


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Was the WP engaging in payback against left bloggers?


Whiskey Bar thinks so and thinks they should be looking at the other side of this bipolar debate. The WP is very defensive after facing many thousands of critical emails and comments about recent poor editorial judgments.

There are Other Faces of the Angry Left.

Some got angrier while denying they were "the angry left":
I got angry reading it, because frankly, it was portraying ME, and all of US, as some sort of braying horde of pitchfork and torch crowd that comes online merely to yell at each other about the bastards that run our government. Apparently, we all use profanity ALL the time, and the appearance of actual rational discourse doesn't exist here, or anywhere, in the so-called left blogosphere.
Another sees the Vile Laziness Of The DC Press.

Anne Coulter "laughingly" calls for a Supreme Court Justice to be poisoned to death, and there is not a peep from the SCLM about "anger."


ADDED: Mary Scott O'Conner responds.



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Saturday, April 15, 2006

WP: The Left, Online and Outraged
What's notable about this isn't only the level of anger but the direction from which it is coming. Not that long ago, it was the right that was angry and the left that was, at least comparatively, polite. But after years of being the targets of inflammatory rhetoric, not only from fringe groups but also from such mainstream conservative politicians as Newt Gingrich, the left has gone on the attack. And with Republicans in control of Washington, they have much more to be angry about.
Am I not angry enough? Probably not, I've become resigned in a fatalistic way to Bush and am trying to do practical things.




Friday, April 14, 2006

Flags, hope, strollers and insecurity

Rick Casey is an excellent addition to the Chronicle news pages. Of course, he has been here a while now but I am continually impressed by his columns.
I've never seen a political march with so many strollers.

The marchers were overwhelmingly young men and women, late teens to thirties, and many were pushing babies and toddlers in strollers.

Illegal immigration may be the only crime that produces healthy families.

As conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote: "The anti-immigration crowd says this country is under assault. But if that's so, we're under assault by people who love their children."

A poll taken two weeks ago for Time magazine asked whether being here illegally should be made a crime or whether illegal immigrants should be given work visas, tracked for six years and given permanent residence status if they pay a fine and back taxes and learn English.

One-quarter wanted the criminal approach, but 72 percent wanted to give immigrants a path to legal status.

So to answer the reader's question: I stand with about three of four Americans.

We're against illegal immigration.

But when they act like young versions of our hard-working grandparents, we're for the immigrants.




100 Word Stories mocking Christ and Christianity

ADDED: Well, this seems to be about as popular as my linking to the Mohammed cartoons. The difference between Islamic and Christian fundamentalist extremists seems to be fewer death threats from the Christians.







May 1st "Brownout"


A day without an immigrant.

Plans are being made for a nationwide boycott and work stopage on Monday, May 1st by all immigrants. As a descendant of immigrants I intend to take part. All you native Americans can skip this.

This is similar to the movie "A Day Without a Mexican" which depicted what would happen to California if all the Latinos disappeared one day.

May 1, 2006: Call to Action!

"El Gran Paro Americano 2006" "The Great American Boycott 2006"

"Un dia sin immigrante" "A day without an immigrant"

Nationwide General Immigrant Strike!
Wear White T-Shirt at May 1st!

No Work, No School, No Sales, and No Buying.

Rally around symbols of economic trade in your area (stock exchanges, anti-immigrant corporations, etc.) at May 1st to protest the anti-immigrant bill.

Somewhat related, Rice University is hosting a bipartisan forum with political leaders and scholars to discuss one of the hottest social issues of the year—immigration—on Wednesday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Rice Memorial Center.

Titled “USA Immigration: Truths and Myths," (webcast site) the forum will seek to inform and shed light on the complicated issue of Hispanic immigration.







Fighting Feudal Taxes
The United States is the most inequitable advanced nation in the world. Every year since 1996 the top 1 percent has garnered more income than bottom 100 million Americans taken together. Wealth ownership is even more concentrated than income. Indeed, it is literally feudal: The top one percent of wealth holders owns roughly half of all financial and business wealth. The top 5 percent owns almost 70 percent of such wealth. In 2003 the top 1 percent alone received 57.5 percent of all capital gains, rent, interest and dividend income—up from 37.6 percent two decades earlier. A recent analysis by The New York Times and Citizens for Tax Justice found that 43 percent of the Bush dividend tax cuts went to taxpayers with incomes greater than $1 million, who make up a mere 1/10th of 1 percent of all taxpayers.

This extraordinary situation is bad not only for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid, but for the nation as a whole. You don’t have to be a radical to recognize that, historically, huge political power regularly follows huge wealth, with disastrous implications for democracy.
A movement has spread to many states to reverse the tax advantages for the very rich with new high wealth, high income taxes coupled with reducing the tax burden on the middle-class.





Reduce Income Taxes, Increase Energy Taxes

A practical plan to encourage work and reduce pollution, energy use and greenhouse gases.






US Iraqi allies behind death squads and ethnic cleansing
"More Iraqis are dying from militia violence than from the terrorists," Khalilzad said recently. "The militias need to be under control."

His blunt comment came in the wake of over 1,000 abductions and murders in a single month, most of them blamed on Shia militias. Terrified residents of Baghdad's mainly Sunni areas talk of cars roaring up after dark, uninhibited by the police in spite of the curfew. They enter homes and seize people, whose bodies turn up later, often garotted or marked with holes from electric drills - evidence of torture before assassination.



Thursday, April 13, 2006

Real Security

I sent a letter to the editor to three papers today via email complaining about gas prices and contrasting the Bush-Cheney energy plan with the Democratic "Real Security" energy plan. I will wait a couple days and see if any publish it before posting or linking it here.

Despite the high gas prices my friend Pat is traveling to Corpus for a vacation today and my Dad should be in Florida now.

I'll see what they think about the cost of the trip compared to prior years when they get back.




Bush tax cuts saved millionaires an average of one million a year
The first data to document the effect of President Bush's tax cuts for investment income show that they have significantly lowered the tax burden on the richest Americans, reducing taxes on incomes of more than $10 million by an average of about $500,000.

Among taxpayers with incomes greater than $10 million, the amount by which their investment tax bill was reduced averaged about $500,000 in 2003, and total tax savings, which included the two Bush tax cuts on compensation, nearly doubled, to slightly more than $1 million.

Opponents say the cuts are too generous to those who already have plenty. Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, the senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said after seeing the new figures that "these tax cuts are beyond irresponsible" when "we're in a war; we haven't fixed Social Security or Medicare; we've got record deficits."

Because of the tax cuts, even the merely rich, making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, are falling behind the very wealthiest, particularly because another provision, the alternative minimum tax, now costs many of them thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars a year in lost deductions.





Analysts Say a Nuclear Iran Is Years Away - New York Times

Of course, warmongers totally misread articles to say 16 days away. The Bloomberg article says years from now, if Iran has 54,000 centrifuges operating, it could produce a weapon in 16 days. The headline on Drudge, Bloomberg and conservative websites is Iran 16 days away from the bomb. This is another big lie, scare tactic by cowards for cowards, aimed at people who only look at headlines. Iran currently has 164 centrifuges which would take over 13 years to make a small bomb.






U.S. Income Gap More Like a Chasm


Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times looks at un-unionized service jobs.

What does 18 years of full-time employment as a security guard get?

For several years I worked as a security guard. It was a solution to insomnia and working somewhere where I thought I could also work on writing and game design. Any upward advancement is to still low-paying supervisory or management jobs. Higher paying management involves connections to companies or smoozing of employers that can hire. There is no affordable health insurance and no benefits and you have to pay work costs like uniforms out of your pay. Blacks stuck on the bottom rung of the ladder for years are a significant part of the workforce.




Poll Finds Bush Rating at New Low


WP:
Bush's job approval rating has remained below 50 percent for nearly a year. Perhaps more ominous for the president, 47 percent in the latest poll say they 'strongly' disapprove of Bush's handling of the presidency -- more than double the 20 percent who strongly approve. It marked the second straight month that the proportion of Americans intensely critical of the president was larger than his overall job approval rating. In comparison, the percentage who strongly disapproved of President Bill Clinton on that measure never exceeded 33 percent in Post-ABC News polls.
You would think there might be some Democratic leader tapping into that anger and strong disapproval of the President. You would have to look pretty hard. Sen. Feingold had the leaders backing away from a censure motion, which is just a scolding. 47% - the GOP started impeachment proceedings against Clinton knowing it would fail but to please their voters with only 33% strong disapproval. Maybe over the summer the Democrats in DC will focus group this and decide they can speak out. If Chris Matthews can get over his shock and finally realize most Americans don't like this guy maybe some Democratic leaders besides Dean will too.




Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Maureen Dowd and free NYT


Here We Go Again ... Wag the Camel

The Divine Right of Bushes

In other free NYT news: Krugman says Bush is willing to lie us into another war and that McCain is no moderate.

Some editorials and editorial writers are where the New York Times gets it reputation for liberalism. The sometimes hard-hitting reporting on officialdom, despite its conservative editorials, is where the Washington Post gets its liberal reputation.





Bush and Cheney lied about Mobile Iraqi Biolabs.


The WP is going back and finding the lies. I had this at the time. Those were not mobile bio-labs, they were gas generators for balloons. The WP and the NYT are playing catch-up. Nice documentation that the White House was informed this was a lie before they spread the story. I think it might take until November if they want to investigate each one of their lies.




Monday, April 10, 2006


Vote April 11 Runoff


As usual I get called in at the last minute to work as an election judge. At least it is pretty close by this time - in Pasadena.

You can get voting locations here.

Democrats should vote against Gene Kelly in the small only two or three race ballot. Come visit me, I will be lonely as I expect turnout of 1%. That means if you brought a few friends you can swing the election. Whoo Ho!





Breaking - Phone-Jamming Records Point to White House - Yahoo! News
Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 - as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, says the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming.

Virtually all the calls to the White House went to the same number, which currently rings inside the political affairs office. In 2002, White House political affairs was led by now-RNC chairman Ken Mehlman. The White House declined to say which staffer was assigned that phone number in 2002.
Is "preposterous" the latest code word for "Oops, we got caught"?




Thousands of immigration protesters march in Houston
Thousands of protesters marched in Houston on Monday, many carrying signs saying, "All we want is the American dream."

Houston IndyMedia
1:00 pm - marchers gather at Guadalupe Plaza, at Navigation and Jensen in 2nd ward
1:05 - march leaves for downtown
reports are that highway 45 is backed up with cars full of people trying to get to the march
1:30 - there is still a steady flow of marchers streaming from the plaza
there is another march from the minute maid park area headed to Guadalupe Plaza that hasn't reached it yet
at the front of the march there are festive displays: a man on stilts dressed up as Uncle Sam marches with a woman dressed as lady liberty. Everyone is wearing white t-shirts and chanting loudly
2:00 - Main Street is shut down downtown. The front of the march has arrived at the rally site at at Allen's Landing while a steady stream is still leaving from Guadalupe Plaza
report from in front of county jail - The march is barely moving, stopped in front of the jail. Lots of people inside the jail and the guards are watching the march pass by.
report from commerce street- commerce street is full of people and closed to all traffic. People are chanting in English and Spanish, "what do we want? Justice! For who? Everyone! When? Now!" and "Â Si, Se Puede!" Lots of people chanting "USA!"
2:05 reports of music in the streets, the free radicals were spotted drumming to an excited crowd and a Mariachi band is hyping up the crowd at the plaza where more people are still arriving.
2:15- report from main and commerce - people are begining to fill the rally site at Allen's landing. march stretches back as far as reporter can see from bridge. early estimates from march security guess there are 100,000 people.
2:45- report from austin and commerce - end of the march that is blocked police cruisers has just hit austin street, but after that there are still hundreds of people both on the sidewalk and in the streets going towards the rally.
3:00- report going back along the route towards the plaza- the march is full of flags, USA, Mexico, Pakistan, Palestine, Honduras, and El Salvador being some of countries represented. men are vending paletas as people sit on benches along the route enjoying the shade. stickers are pasted along the route, one is of calvin from calvin and hobbs, wearing a sombero and pissing on the words "la migra" [border patrol]
More being added.

National Day of Action Demonstrations site.

Click 2 Houston has video of Houston Demonstration

Yesterday there was a half-million in Dallas March

Waco also had a large crowd.

Houston Videos - KHOU TV.

RUMBO - Cientos de miles marchan en defensa de inmigrantes

Good Photos, coverage at USAToday.





Early Warning - Bad planners doing bad war planning
What is happening now though is not just an administration prudently preparing for the unfortunate against an aggressive and crazed state, it is also aggressive and crazed, driven by groupthink and a closed circle of bears.

The public needs to know first, that this planning includes preemptive plans that the President could approve and implement with 12 hours notice. Congress should take notice of the fact that there is a real war plan -- CONPLAN 8022 -- and it could be implemented tomorrow.

Second, the public needs to know that the train has left the station on bigger war planning, that a ground war -- despite the Post claim yesterday that a land invasion "is not contemplated" -- is also being prepared. It is a real war plan; I've heard CONPLAN 1025.

Like early 2002, the floodgates have opened and the stories about Iran war planning have started. Some claim Dick Cheney has already made the decision, some claim war this spring, some say the U.S. and Israel are collaborating. When The Washington Post and The New Yorker purport to write about these plans in major pieces, I need to know more than the Bush administration is planning options: What options? What alternatives? What assumptions?
Some radical left-winger conspiracy theorist? No, the Washington Post's National and Homeland Security blogger.

ADDED - CSM - Is US considering using nukes against Iran?

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Sunday, April 09, 2006


Incompetence Excuse Wearing Thin
I am going to find a china shop somewhere in the city and walk in with a free-swinging baseball bat. My goal, which will be clearly stated, will be to improve upon the place. I will spend the next three years meticulously destroying everything I see inside, from the cash registers to the display cases to the nice Royal Albert tea sets in the corner. Along the way, I will batter the brains out of any poor sod unfortunate enough to get in my way. When I am done, I will claim with as much self-righteousness as I can muster that none of the mess is my responsibility. I will then, of course, refuse to leave. - William Rivers Pitt



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