The Bush Administration Would Shock Even George Orwell

“Science, like any field of endeavor, relies on freedom of inquiry; and one of the hallmarks of that freedom is objectivity. Now, more than ever, on issues ranging from climate change to AIDS research to genetic engineering to food additives, government relies on the impartial perspective of science for guidance.”

President George H. W. Bush, 1990, in remarks to the National Academy of Sciences

Rather than being content with just lying, the Bush Administration wants to change what is considered true. It is corrupting the process of empiric data gathering and data analysis, by replacing scientific experts on government panels with political and industry hacks, and by falsifying data to suit its aims. For example, on the Center for Disease Control's Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, the Bush Administration replaced renown experts on the effects of lead poisoning in children with lead industry representatives. The lead industry representatives felt it was safe for children to consume many times more lead than health experts advocated, though health research has demonstrated that these higher lead levels cause brain damage in children. Or in another example, the Environmental Protecton Agency changed the data on environmental damage caused by "hydraulic fracturing" to benefit Halliburton.

Read all about it in the this report, "Politics and Science in the Bush Administration," by congressional staffers for Rep. Henry Waxman (D., CA). If you are disturbed by this report (and you will be) , please send the URL of the report on to friends and to your congressional representatives, to help bring this to public attention.
Accept No Substitutes

There is only one TestPattern. Pay no attention to Gael Fashingbauer Cooper's "Test Pattern" blog on MSNBC.com. First, she is a professional writer. All of us here are amateurs. Second, you won't catch any of us prattling on about Halloween costumes or the death of Fred “Rerun” Berry, of "What's Happening" fame.

Lost Hunter Starts Fire; Kills 11

FOXNews reports that the largest blaze currently burning in Southern California, the so-called Cedar Fire, was started by a lost hunter. If the fact that he is a hunter weren't proof enough of his stupidity, he had to go and: 1) get lost, and 2) start a signal fire in high fire risk conditions. Would it be a stretch to assume that the man probably voted for George Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger, too?

Thanks to this man's idiocy, eleven have been killed and more than 150,000 acres have been destroyed. Will the hunter face criminal charges? One can only hope so, but I imagine that the gun/hunter lobby is already making amicus balatro calls on his behalf. And you wonder why the Enron crooks are still not locked up?

In a rich bit of irony, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, said, "Those who start these fires are no better than domestic terrorists and should be dealt with as such."

Bush Republicans and far-right religious fundamentalists expand interference into scientific research funding

Religious fundamentalists and their allies in the Bush administration are expanding their attempt to have a Christian Right litmus test for all scientific research. Now over 250 research grants are under attack. The investigators on these grants are being asked to inform the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the "public benefit" of the grants, despite the fact that the public benefits of the grants were discussed in detail before the grants were approved. Rep. Henry Waxman states that the list appears to have come out of the Bush Administration's Dept. of Health and Human Services. A copy of the list obtained by the Associated Press shows that the list has been annotated by the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), and the TVC may have created the list itself. Grants which investigate HIV and STD transmission especially are targeted.

Researchers have been told by NIH staff not to mention (in grant applications) abortion, condom effectiveness, needle exchange, sexual minorities or other subjects controversial to the religious right, because of fear that the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans are working stop research the contrary to "Christian values."

The Executive Director for the Traditional Values Coalition stated, "This is NIH's Mapplethorpe." Indeed, conservatives are trying to do to the NIH what they did to the National Endowment for the Arts. But the consequences here are far more serious. An attempt is being made to scare a generation of researchers from approaching topics controversial to religious conservatives. Unlike artists, universities and their investigators cannot function without government grants. The Right cannot be allowed to win this one. The stakes are too high.
Why is the TSA Failing Its Mission?

Several media outlets have picked up a story by "MURIEL DOBBIN - McClatchy Newspapers," that might as well have been passed along by someone working for James Loy, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration.

The headline reads, "TSA Making Progress, Long Way to Go." Already it reeks of spin, doesn't it? Yeah, we've got a tough assignment, but we're making headway. Give us a break!

Dobbin leads with:

As millions of Americans plan Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, they remain haunted by the question of airplane safety in the age of terrorism.

Complaints about security loopholes still beset the Transportation Security Administration, a year-old agency spawned by the terrorism attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The TSA is struggling to meet the massive challenge of checking airport passengers - and their billion-plus bags - every year.

Wouldn't you say that the "complaints" about the "loopholes" are justified? Obviously the folks at the TSA don't know what they hell they're doing. Sure, it's a "massive challenge," but the TSA has a $5.2 billion budget, and some 48,000 "specially trained airport screeners."

Isn't a year enough time to figure things out? How many screeners does it take to prevent a 20-year-old college student from smuggling box cutters and simulated explosives onto commercial aircraft? How long should it take airline personnel to find these items after they've been successfully smuggled onto the aircraft?

Officials at TSA blame human error and lack of funds. I say, let them prove that they're not wasting our money before we give them another penny.

Randal Null, security technology chief for the TSA, said, "There has been progress and a lot is going on. But the key fact is that with any system there is no single silver bullet that will give us 100 percent security." Progress? Like what, letting a woman bring a loaded gun on board in her carry-on? Or letting another peel an apple with her 5-inch knife that the TSA screeners didn't notice?

James Loy told the House Aviation Subcommittee, "We cannot provide world-class security on the cheap."

Maybe too much of the TSA budget is going towards the bomb-sniffing dog program ($6 million), X-ray bag scanners ($750,000 apiece installed at 429 airports), or new biometric devices that scan eyes and hands? Damn, with Loy's sense of budgetting, just be glad he's not in charge of our efforts in Iraq.

I would suggest taking a closer look at what James Loy, a former Coast Guard Admiral, has done so far while at the helm of the TSA.

An article from July ("A man of the sea, keeping trouble out of the skies," U.S. News & World Report, July 28, 2003, Vol. 135 , No. 3; Pg. 28) notes, among other things, that
"convicted criminals landed TSA screener jobs ... One contractor's deal somehow ballooned to $ 700 million--nearly seven times the original estimate. And Loy was chastised for using the luxury Wyndham Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa near chic Telluride, Colo., to interview screener candidates. He says the hotel offered government rates and was centrally located to five airports that needed screeners--but not everyone's buying the explanation."

Sounds like he's running a tight ship, doesn't it? And if that weren't enought to raise a few eyebrows, Loy believes that unions are incompatible with combatting terrorism!?
He won't allow TSA screeners to engage in collective bargaining, he says, because it's "not compatible with the flexibility required to wage the war against terrorism." The Fair Labor Relations Authority agrees, but American Federation of Government Employees President Bobby Harnage is livid. Loy "does not appear to fully appreciate the value of the workforce having an input," he complains."

Should anyone be surprised that a Bush apointee is anti-union, lets contractors get away with larceny and hires convicts? I say, whoever beats Bush next year should fire James Loy and get someone else who is up to the job.
Thoughts On Levi's Leaving ...

This is terrorism too. If these businesses want to relocate overseas then fine, it's Aloha on the steel guitar, but they should be prohibited from selling the product of their traitorous betrayal to the American people. I believe in Economic Patriotism; loyalty to America, not international capital. Without Economic Patriotism there is no America; no unifying force of ideals and mutual loyalty based on national kinship. Loyalty to capital formation at the expense of our country's culture and cohesiveness has successfully (and sneakily) been asserted as the definition of Patriotism.

My feeling is that a more appropriate definition for the cult of international capital is Parasitism. This will, if allowed to continue, brutally hurt our country and its citizens. It is NOT Patriotic, though it serves the private money interests of various individuals to make believe that it is. It is a cruel and disloyal deception that undermines whatever is left of a unique American culture and a specific American identity. It is treason. These businesses should not be allowed to sell their products in America after having abetted the destruction of the livelihood of American families.

I ask my fellow citizens who posture as bold advocates of Family Values to go a centimeter beyond your transparently facile sloganeering and in the interest of your avowed Patriotism consider the effect of the wholesale evacuation of american businesses from The Homeland to the benevolent precincts of Saipan Island and other points East.

  • What does the termination of a man's livelihood do to his family?
  • How does losing a job for no fault of your own play out in the hearth and home?
  • What does it do to the relationships within that family?
  • What does it do to the planning re: college etc?
  • What does it do to the health insurance and mortgage obligations?
  • What does it do to the children?

This coarse betrayal of the long term interest of America and the American People by the businesses that prospered on the efforts of these same American people, with the energetic complicity of various national leaders will, I hope, awaken the sleeping giant as once before and bring about a similar victory.

In the end the challenge to the deceivers who support this travesty should go something as follows, "Are you loyal to money or are you loyal to the American people and the American Nation"?!

Those who have been proclaiming their love of America while operating as agents of its relentless economic, cultural, and ultimately nationalistic erosion have been terrorizing our nation family by family, and town by town...inflicting millions of civilian casualties as the life blood of livelihood and economic security has given way to the corrosive impact of a cult of predatory international capital operators who could care a whit about the long term prosperity and national security of America and its people.

To them, if the truth be known, there is no such thing as an American. To them, American citizens are merely economic units, insects of labor, to be used as neccessary, and then discarded like any other fungible commodity. In fact, the specific concept of nationalistic fraternity is threatening to these global manipulators who view emotional links to faith, family, and country as irrational, compared to their self-serving paradigm of the uniquely rational movements of capital and the market.

To them, any consideration of the noxious impact of their disloyal maneuverings is considered heresy to market principles.

It's time these Anti-American scourges were brought to heel by an outraged citizenry who, enlightened and emboldened by a dynamic leadership, and annealed by repeated betrayals from the international capital cult, reasserted the defiant primacy of AMERICAN PRINCIPLES over the market trick that has been inflicted on them lo these past twenty-five years.

And then they should start taking names with respect to "the conservatives" who lied to them while cynically betraying the culture and community and future of the country they pretended to love as a ruse to destroy it.

The Culture Wars

As the Washington Post (and others) have recently reported, conservatives are making gay rights, especially same-sex marriage, the leading cultural wedge issue for the next election cycle, ahead of abortion.

While the choice of focus for conservatives may make political sense to them, as Democratic presidential frontrunner Howard Dean is seen as vulnerable on the issue, the resultant rise in homophobic hysteria is harmful to our social fabric.

In today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there is an article about a prep school chaplain (at a non-denominational school) who was forced to resign for expressing in the school newspaper his support for the Episcopal Church's confirmation of a gay bishop. The chaplain said that God is more concerned with one's spirituality than one's sexuality. Apparently in some parts of America, that was too controversial an opinion to have and keep one's job .

Have a Subversive Weekend!

If you're looking for a little subversive diversion this weekend, I have a few suggestions:

  • Get motivated! Listen to Michael Moore's speech at San Francisco State University, recorded this Monday. You'll laugh so hard you may just be inspired to stop watching the World Series and do something! (Go Marlins!?)
  • Get informed! Subscribe to the FREE email dispatch from TomPaine.com and you'll find out that George Bush has passive solar and geothermal heating and cooling at his Crawford Ranch. If renewable energy is good enough for him, why isn't it good enough for the rest of us?
  • Speak out! There are battles being waged in Congress right now. Contact your elected officials and let them know where you stand. Make a phone call or write a letter. Believe it or not, they do pay attention. Just look at the recent passed legislation lifting the travel ban on Cuba. (Let's stop Bush from vetoing this.) Politicians tend to be timid, so hold them accountable and get them to do what's right.
  • Put your money where your mouth is! Give your money (and your time) to a non-profit, or a deserving political candidate. Switch your long distance phone service to Working Assets, which donates its profits to charity. Invest in a socially responsible mutual fund. Try spending some of your money supporting local businesses, instead of corporate chains.

Enjoy your weekend!
'We're a Free People.'

Howard Fineman is right. Next year's election is looking to be a culture war of the highest order. The best I can tell is that the Republicans have taken the offensive in every single battle so far, and are consistently winning. It's time for the Democrats to not only strike back, but also start a few battles of their own. Here are some examples of recent fights:

  • a ban on "partial birth" abortions is passed by Congress
  • Florida Governor Jeb Bush signs a one-time only law ordering that tube feeding be resumed for severely brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, who has been in a vegetative state for 13 years
  • Republicans nominate to the federal bench Janice Rogers Brown, a conservative idealogue who happens to be black, and accuse Democrats of racism for opposing her
  • Gen. William Boykin gives speeches in uniform where he refers to the war in Iraq as a crusade between good and evil.

Boykin sounds like someone straight out of the Middle Ages - he must feel right at home working for the Bush administration. Here are a few choice Boykin quotes excerpted from a piece by Fareed Zakaria:
"I knew that my God was bigger than his God. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol." He has also repeatedly explained that America's enemy was "a spiritual enemy . . . called Satan." The enemy, he added, will be defeated only "if we come against them in the name of Jesus."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has refused to condemn Boykin, stating, "We're a free people." Amen to that, and to women having the freedom to have an abortion, to people having the freedom to die with dignity, and to Americans having the freedom of a government which hasn't been hijacked by radicals like Bush, Brown, Boykin and Rumsfeld.
Bush Republicans Attempt to Destroy Integrity of Scientific Research Funding Process

America's biomedical research institutions are the envy of the world. American research universities, funded by grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health, are responsible for the greatest advances in health research the world has seen. This process is supposed to be shielded from political influence, funded entirely on scientific merit and potential to advance the nation's health.

The Bush Republicans are trying to change this. They believe that scientific research should not be funded if it may argue for increased funding for health interventions for ethnic minorities, gays, transgendered people, injection drug users, sex workers, and others the conservatives find distasteful. The House of Representatives narrowly failed in an attempt to defund several grants that had already been awarded, and word from Washington yesterday was that over 100 grants are now being threatened by the Senate. The American Psychological Association is among the organizations sounding the alarm.

To get one of these grants is a very difficult process. Most grant applications are rejected, and a successful grant can take 3 years or more of faculty time. Failure to get funding can be the end of an academic's career. The Republicans are trying to intimidate researchers, who, fearing for their careers, will instead focus on studying bioterrorism defense and other politically preferred research. If this succeeds, watch next for industry lobbyists and Republicans to try to defund research into health effects of industrial toxins and other environmental pollution. Already, of course, the Bush administration has blocked stem cell research.

Contact your Senators and demand that Congress stop its efforts to defund individual NIH grants for political reasons.
Michael Moore Energizes Crowd at SFSU
"These people [the Bush administration] are serial liars, and it is incredible that they have gotten away with it for so long. Once people find out the truth, they will respond."

"The American public, when you say that word, the first image that should come into your head should not be one that looks like me. It should look like Oprah."

"You live in a liberal country and we need to start saying it and believing it because it's the truth. The only reason it doesn't look like that is because the liberal leaders have done anything but lead. All they've done is follow or try to be like Republicans."

"If someone who [like Gen. Wesley Clark] voted for Reagan now says, 'I'm joining your team, I don't believe in that anymore,' we have to open up our arms. This is why people don't like the left. This is why people don't like liberals. … That's why nobody wants to join [the Democratic Party]. We're so on our high horse."
Bush Republicans Continue to Play the Race Card:
Contact Your Senators Today

"When we opposed Charles Pickering, we were called anti-Southern . . . When we opposed Miguel Estrada, we were called anti-Hispanic . . . When we opposed Priscilla Owen, they were reduced to branding us as anti-woman, a complaint that is so laughable it's hard to even mention it. And in a particularly despicable ploy . . .when we opposed William Pryor, the right stooped to religious McCarthyism."

"Let the right-wing tactic of smears and name-calling subside and disappear. Let us not see the race card dealt from the shameful deck of unfounded charges as some stalwarts of this president's most extreme nominees have come to rely on as they inject partisanship and politics into the appointment and consideration of judges."

--Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT

I thought I had seen it all, but watching the Senate Judiciary hearings today for Janice Rogers Brown really took the cake. I saw Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama tossing softballs to a radically conservative black woman being considered for a federal judgeship. (I swear she was made up to look like Anita Hill.) Sessions actually quoted Martin Luther King at one point, to his and Ms. Brown's mutual delight.

Senators Feinstein, Leahy and Feingold each used Brown's own words to expose her for what she really is: a judicial advocate who gives little credence to legal precedent and is happy to serve the interests of the most radical right wing elements in this country. Not only is she unqualified to judge, I would guess that she is unqualified to interpret the law in any capacity, unless that means reading with blinders and 3-D glasses, where every conclusion is backwards and contrary to a law's intent.

Playing the race card has become a favored strategy of the Bush Republicans lately. They've played it several times with judicial nominations: Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen, and now Brown. They claimed that each of these nominations were "highly qualified," which simply isn't true. Republicans had the nerve to accuse Democrats of being racist for filibustering Estrada's nomination. Now they're calling the criticism of Brown a lynch mob.

These people have no sense of decency or irony, it seems. The clearly misguided things that Brown is on the record for saying, they use to defend her.

"Discrimination on the basis of race is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, inherently wrong, and destructive of democratic society." A conservative firebrand, Brown has defended her opinions against racial preferences by stating that government has been "transformed from a necessary evil to a nanny, or a goody bag to solve our private problems."

As for government intrusion in general, Brown has said, "Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege, war in the streets … the precipitous decline of the rule of law, the rapid rise of corruption, the loss of civility, and the triumph of deceit."

And even while they attack those who criticize her as being special interest groups catering to the far-left, they lament that no one is defending her. Thomas Sowell, another black conservative apologist, writes: "The real question is whether the administration that nominated Justice Brown will mount a serious counter-attack or leave her out there, twisting in the wind, the way it did with Miguel Estrada and its other judicial nominees. Have you seen anything by anybody, anywhere, defending Janice Rogers Brown?" Well, duh, I'm reading your column, aren't I?

Do a Google search for yourself and you'll find the rightwing rhetoric to be clearly divisive and racist on Brown's nomination. The Democrats have been clear about their objections to Brown, which have nothing to do with race and everything to do with her extremist political philosophy and judicial advocacy. But those on the right continue to accuse the Democrats of racism, as if they are the only ones who notice that Brown is black. Ironic, huh?

Marni Soupcoff writes in the conservative FrontPageMag, "A Brown seat on the Supreme Court would mean one more vote for a jurisprudence of true [her italics, not mine] equal rights, rather than one of forced racial and sex preferences." Here is another example of the kind of disingenuous rhetoric I'm hearing from the right:

They take great pride in telling women, minorities, or those of some "special" classification, that the only political party which adequately addresses their unique needs is the Democrat Party. However, the "needs" of these groups are not what drive the Democrats to clamor for their attention. Rather, it is the fact that these groups have traditionally voted Democrat that earns them the attention of the Democrat Party elite. Take a women or a minority who happens to be a conservative, and the needs of that person are not quite as important as they used to be. In fact, that person now becomes persona nongrata to the Democrats.

If the far-right Republicans respected the process, and their colleagues, not to mention their fellow Americans, they would nominate candidates that weren't so aggressively unprincipled and intemperate in their views. Instead of nominating candidates that everyone can agree on, they continue to see how much they can get away with. And it's about time that stopped.

I'm stating the obvious here, but there is no sign of things improving anytime in the foreseeable future. Nothing will change in Washington until we have a Democrat in the White House and the Democrats back in charge in Congress, either the Senate and the House. Maybe some of them don't deserve our support or our respect, but the alternative has so far been a nightmare that keeps getting worse. There just aren't enough Republicans with the integrity and sufficient power to keep the GOP from being continually hijacked by the likes of Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions and other Bush Republicans.

Take a few minutes to make your views known to your senators. We can keep the Bush Republicans from getting away with this.

Nathaniel Heatwole Exposes Lax Airport Security
Homeland Security Arrests Him

Nathaniel Heatwole, 20, a student at Guilford College in North Carolina, has been arrested for carrying box cutters, bleach, matches and modeling clay onto domestic passenger airliners to expose security shortcomings. Instead, he should be given a medal.

Several Democrats, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Edward Markey, have said that he should perform community service if it is determined that Heatwole did not have criminal intent. Pelosi told reporters,"I'm not commending him. I'm just saying that he taught us a lesson."

Heatwole planted bags of banned items on Southwest aircraft and notified the Transportation Security Administration in an e-mail last month, providing his name and phone number and explaining what he had done - but the hidden items still went undiscovered for five weeks. One might understand why the TSA is embarassed about this, but does this sound like the behavior of a criminal?

"I can tell you he's a bright, sharp, accomplished young man," said Jack Hammett, president of the Potomac Valley Radio Club, which awarded him a $1,000 scholarship this summer.

The club's August newsletter describes Heatwole as a double major in physics and political science at Guilford College, a liberal arts school, founded by Quakers, with a history of civil disobedience dating to its resistance of Confederate conscription during the Civil War.

Heatwole won a dean's award last year for writing, and a $2,500 school scholarship this year for "outstanding character, intellect and scholarship."

Prosecutors aren't buying that Heatwole was performing a public service, mainly because as a result of his actions they've been publicly humiliated, had to search 7,000 commercial aircraft and have faced "questions about the adequacy of airport security two years after the Sept. 11 attacks."

Heatwole told the Greensboro News & Record, "I have a ton of stuff I'd like to say, but now is not the time. I have to work with the government before I work with the media."
"This young man blew a whistle so that tomorrow, no one can blow up an airplane in the United States," said Rep. Markey.

"He has pointed out a very serious security deficiency. He e-mailed the TSA and said he had put box cutters on planes. And for more than a month, they did not respond to that warning even though he left his phone number with them. So this is, without question, very troubling."

"The Bush administration can't, on the one hand, say that this young man committed a very serious crime and then at the same time say that they didn't respond to the e-mail at the Department of Homeland Security because it wasn't an imminent threat. They can't have it both ways. Either the young man did something that was very serious, or he didn't."

Markey also chastised the agency for cutting 6,000 baggage screeners and for continuing to support the loading of cargo aboard passenger planes without physical screening or inspection.

Markey said the agency has also failed to complete background checks on many of its own employees and has hired convicted criminals.

Read for yourself what the TSA had to say about this incident. It's almost laughable, if the stakes for this well-intentioned but naive college student weren't so high.

Heatwole faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted.
Memories of Reagan at Bitburg

I was in high school at the time, and didn't quite grasp the significance of Ronald Reagan's speech at Bitburg Air Base on May 5, 1985. But I do remember that there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the visit, since an American president visiting a cemetery where many Nazi SS soldiers were buried seemed to send the wrong message about our role in World War II. He did so, despite the protests of many prominent American Jews.

Today freedom-loving people around the world must say: I am a Berliner. I am a Jew in a world still threatened by anti-Semitism. I am an Afghan, and I am a prisoner of the Gulag. I am a refugee in a crowded boat foundering off the coast of Vietnam. I am a Laotian, a Cambodian, a Cuban, and a Miskito Indian in Nicaragua. I, too, am a potential victim of totalitarianism.

The one lesson of World War II, the one lesson of nazism, is that freedom must always be stronger than totalitarianism and that good must always be stronger than evil. The moral measure of our two nations will be found in the resolve we show to preserve liberty, to protect life, and to honor and cherish all God's children.

Guess who was there at Bitburg the day that Reagan made this grotesquely hypocritical utterance? None other than Michael Moore. He told the story tonight while lecturing to a sold-out audience at San Francisco State University. Not only was the lecture sold-out, there were 700 people who watched a live simulcast in a theater on campus. Moore says he's received enthusiastic receptions everywhere he's been so far, promoting his new book, "Dude, Where's My Country?"

It seems that Moore may be right when he says that the United States is essentially a liberal country at heart, although you wouldn't know that from listening to the government or the corporate media. The fact that "Stupid White Men" sold 4 million copies and his new book has already sold a million copies, while "Bowling for Columbine" has been a huge success, makes it pretty obvious that Moore is saying what people want to hear in a way they want to hear it. Next stop: Albuquerque.

Halliburton Robs US Army for Profit

What do you call it when a company contracts with the US government to provide a product or service and then blatantly overcharges them for it? Ask Dick Cheney.

First off, Dick Cheney's former employer was awarded a no-bid contract to extinguish oil fires and restore the oil industry in Iraq. Now Halliburton is overcharging the US Army, though its Kellog Brown & Root subsidiary, between $1.62 and $1.70 per gallon of gasoline, while Iraqis are charged between 4 cents and 15 cents. KBR has been paid $1.4 billion through September, $762.4 million of which went to purchase and distribute gasoline, including diesel fuel, kerosene and propane.

Don't expect the truth out of Halliburton. Spokeswoman Wendy Hall said, "KBR is not responsible for establishing the price Iraqi motorists pay for gasoline at the pump." And don't expect anyone from the US Army Corps of Engineers to blow the whistle on KBR's price gouging. Corps spokesman Scott Saunders said Halliburton's KBR subsidiary is getting "the best price possible."

I hope that integrity might yet prevail in the Corps of Engineers. I expect nothing but lies, fraud and manipulation from a company that used to have Dick Cheney at its helm.

Take action!

Watch the new ad the Democrats are planning to run on the leak of the CIA agent's identity, and sign the petition demanding an independent counsel investigation.
Democrats Stand Up for US and the Military

In the reporting of today's House and Senate votes on President Bush's $87 billion request for the military and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, one item was nearly lost. Once again, it wasn't the Republicans that stood up for our men and women in uniform, but Democrats like Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.).

The Senate voted 51 to 47 to make half of President Bush's $20.3 billion Iraq rebuilding plan into a loan, thanks to an outbreak of sanity among eight Republican Senators: Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Colo.), John Ensign (Nev.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Olympia J. Snowe (Maine), Sam Brownback (Kans.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine). Their votes came despite the fact that four Democrats went the other way: Zell Miller (Ga.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Daniel K. Inouye (Hawaii) and Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.).

"I don't want to give in to a great lie. You can't buy your way out of this problem," said Graham, one of the five Republican co-authors of the Senate's loan provision. "You can't take $10 billion of taxpayer money, [while] people are losing their jobs, to buy your way out of a great lie. It would be terrible if the people of this country who have sacrificed so much wound up not getting a dime back."

One can only guess which of the Bush administration's many lies that Senator Graham was referring to.

This patriot also noticed that Rep. Obey proposed an amendment

that would have shifted $3.6 billion from the Iraq reconstruction fund to the U.S. military to pay for the medical and dental screening of military reservists, for family assistance centers, for pre-paid phone cards for the troops in Iraq, for the transportation of troops on rest-and-relaxation leave, for the construction of more water treatment and power plants for the deployed troops, and for the repair and replacement of damaged equipment. The amendment died, 216 to 209.

If this president and his party were serious about supporting our troops, they would support such an amendment in a heartbeat. Obey has proven several times now that they couldn't care less about the American people, even those who serve in our armed forces.
California uber alles (3)

Schwarzenegger hasn't even taken office, but already he appears to be taking a page from GW Bush's playbook-- running as a "uniter," then moving right.

Schwarzenegger's transition team is being headed by far-right Congressman David Dreier, and despite token Democrats like Willie Brown (to help bring integrity back to Sacramento?), the transition team is dominated by the right.

There is only one gay/lesbian member of the transition team, Tammy Bruce. Bruce is a far-right radio talk show host and Fox News consultant. Presumably because she is attracted to the same sex, she gets away with repeated characterizations of gay men as AIDS-spreading pedophiles. She likes to make fun of transgendered people, too.

Here is the description on Amazon.com of Tammy Bruce's latest screed, "The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values":
Book Description

If you believe children should be seduced into warped sexual behavior by the Gay Elite, if you think confessed murderers should be set free by defense attorneys who know how to wield the race card, if you feel promiscuous gay men should be empowered to spread AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, don’t read this book.


But if you’ve always suspected that factions on the Left are trying to destroy the values that define our civilization, this book proves it. Through the pages of The Death of Right and Wrong, author, activist, and pundit Tammy Bruce takes you inside the chilling world of the Left—a place where morals and decency have been turned on their heads and the crisp distinction between Right and Wrong has been blurred into a mushy, gray mess.

In this world, the Gay Elite exploit our children—under the guise of tolerance and education—to satisfy their sexual obsessions.

In this world, the Black Elite laud convicted murderers as community heroes and award-winning “artists.”

In this world, the Feminist Elite fawn over a woman who mercilessly killed all five of her children.

And much more that will offend your sense of decency and threaten your basic values.

Ms. Bruce smashes the facades of “Tolerance,” “Understanding,” and other Leftist slogans to reveal the ugly truth of their agenda. As a gay activist and former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization of Women, she witnessed firsthand the Left’s attempts to undermine our millennia-old code of morals and values, aided by politically biased media and academia. And if the news headlines of today are any indication, they’re winning the culture war. Unless we act now, we are doomed at the hands of special interest groups on the Left who want nothing more than to undermine our ability to judge right from wrong in order to foist their own selfish, anything-goes society on the rest of us. This book reveals what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and what we can do to restore decency in our society.

Thank heavens we elected just the man to restore decency in California.
California Thievin'

Here we go again. Arnold Schwarzenegger, aka Pete Wilson's Austrian he-bitch, hasn't even moved into the Governor's mansion and he's already talking about resurrecting the energy deregulation policies that nearly crippled California two years ago. (Ok, so Arnold won't be living in the mansion, but never mind. Can we send a robot into the future to kill him?)

Don't these guys ever get tired of fraud, abuse and manipulation? Shame on them for lying to us about deregulation the first time, but shame on us for letting them lie to us again. Remember what they promised? Cheaper, more plentiful energy. Remember what we got? Blackouts and soaring energy bills. Remember what they got? $50 billion worth of market-manipulated earnings.

On a related note, Pacific Gas & Electric announced that natural gas rates will go up 30% this winter, just in time for Christmas bonuses! (Don't forget, this is the same company that declared bankruptcy the same year that its parent company reported record profits.)

Geez, how stupid do they think we are? The story about Schwarzenegger's meeting with Enron's Ken Lay won't be a secret for much longer. And we all know that deregulation was a failed experiment. Deregulation didn't fail because it was poorly executed, or not fully executed as some argue, but just because it was plain stupid. And just another chance for some Texas oilmen to get rich at someone else's expense. With Schwarzenegger, they have another movie star to put a smiley face on their thievery.

Suggested Reading:

"Blackout," FRONTLINE.
"California's Energy Crisis," The San Francisco Chronicle.
"How Californians Got Burned," The Sacramento Bee, May 6, 2001.
"PG&E's Propaganda War" San Francisco Bay Guardian, January 3, 2001.

"There's nothing wrong with me."

--Rush Limbaugh, in July of this year denied that he had any physical limitations affecting his golf game.

He's now using a claim of chronic back pain to try to rationalize his hypocrisy: Rush's frequent statements that drug users should be sent "up the river," while he goes to 30-day rehab in an attempt to dodge a prison term.

Poor Rush. If he doesn't recognize that he's an addict, if he just seeks rehab to stay out of jail, he'll probably relapse, like he did after his last two attempts at recovery.

If Rush stops trying to rationalize his behavior, if he recognizes his commonality with all the other addicts trying to get clean and stay clean, he has a shot at sobriety. And then maybe he'll have some compassion towards the addicts who lack the resources to get better that Rush takes for granted, and some compassion towards the thousands of non-violent drug offenders wasting away in America's prisons.

Or maybe not.

Molly Ivins Is One Of Us


So, I'm at this book signing by Molly Ivins for her book "Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America".

I asked her to sign it "To the testpattern bloggers - the revolution will not be televised."

When she saw that, she laughed and said in that gravelly voice, "I think I'm one of them."

Anyway, if anybody wants to read it when I'm done, let me know.
Mandatory civics class for all celebrity governors

We can't blame Arnold's ignorance on California's broken schools-- perhaps he knows how Austrian government works.

The howler of the week was Gov.-elect Arnold's call to Gov. Davis not to sign any more bills.

If Davis doesn't sign the bills, they become law anyway.

Hey, how about a sequel to "Kindergarden Cop": The governor-elect of Caifornia attends fourth grade to learn how state government works.

Here are California social studies requirements for the fourth grade:

State Standards
History/Social Science
Grade Level: Fourth


Content Strand: California: A Changing State
Substrand: 4.5
Goal for Substrand:
Students understand the structures, functions, and powers of the local, state, and federal governments as described in the U.S. Constitution.


4.5.1 Discuss what the U.S. Constitution is and why it is important (i.e., a written document that defines the structure and purpose of the U.S. government and describes the shared powers of federal, state, and local governments).

4.5.2 Understand the purpose of the California Constitution, its key principles, and its relationship to the U.S. Constitution.

4.5.3 Describe the similarities (e.g., written documents, rule of law, consent of the governed, three separate branches) and differences (e.g., scope of jurisdiction, limits on government powers, use of the military) among federal, state, and local governments.

4.5.4 Explain the structures and functions of state governments, including the roles and responsibilities of their elected officials.

4.5.5 Describe the components of California’s governance structure (e.g., cities and towns, Indian rancherias and reservations, counties, school districts).

-------
Perhaps we need standardized testing for gubernatorial candidates: before they are eligible for office, they must test at least at fourth grade level.

We told you so

The headline on the front page of the SF Chronicle today, "New push to deregulate energy" was a shock only in that it came the same week as the recall, before Herr Arnold even takes office. Seems like the Gov.-elect's energy plan has been formulated by the same Pete Wilson team that brought us the 1996 deregulation plan that turned out so well... for Enron.

Under the new plan, large businesses can contract directly with suppliers, so the entire $50 billion dollar liability in utility debt and high-rate long-term contracts would be borne by small ratepayers, e.g., you and I. And California would give up control of the state grid (Cal ISO) to Bush's Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which refused to intervene to cap rates to halt the last "energy crisis."

What does this all mean?

We're screwed...again.

Let's just hope that the Democratic legislature and public outrage can limit the damage.

The Columnist Wars

Paul Krugman's Oct. 10 NY Times column , "Lessons in Civility," is return fire across the editorial page at David Brooks' column, "The Presidency Wars," which I dissed in one of my Sept. 30 posts. Brooks' column was widely seen as a shot at Krugman, who has been one of Bush's most perceptive critics. Conservative columnists, after years of savaging Clinton, suddenly decided (Jan. 20, 2001) that the President must be treated with deference. These conservative columnists believe that liberal writers are being downright rude by not accepting whatever the Bush administration says at face value.
George W. Bush, Stop Lying!

I've had it up to here with George W. Bush. He lies about practically everything - weapons of mass destruction, tax cuts for the rich to create jobs and grow the economy, the leak of a CIA agent's identity. Fine. But I'm sick and tired of this imbecile lying about Sammy Sosa!

Earth to George! 1) You were not a real managing partner for the Texas Rangers. You just played one on TV. 2) While you were masquerading in this role and your daddy was prepping you to be the next Governor of Texas, the Rangers traded Sosa to the Chicago White Sox. Three years later, Sosa was traded by the Sox to the Cubs. Claiming responsibility for that trade is like, hell I don't know, maybe claiming responsibility for the deaths of all the US soldiers who have died in Iraq since you led us into war. No, you didn't kill them personally, but you acted in a way to make their deaths possible.

What follows is a particulary galling example of Bush lying with almost every breath he takes. Does this guy even know the truth? One has to wonder if he isn't so deluded as to believe the shit he's slinging. It wouldn't suprise me.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Mayor, thank you. I want to thank the business leaders here from the Chicago area for sharing with me their concerns about our economy. I think it's safe to say most people share the sense of optimism I do, but recognize there's still work to be done, particularly when it comes to job creation.

We talked about good legal policy. We talked about the need for an energy plan. We talked about fair trade for American manufacturers. We talked about the need for China to make sure that China's got a monetary policy which is fair. And I assured the leaders here that I would work to -- I'd represent the manufacturing sector and the -- all sectors of our economy when it comes to world trade.

The thing I'm concerned about is people being able to find a job. We put the conditions in place for good job creation, but I recognize there's still people who want to work that can't find a job. And we're dedicated to hearing the voices of those folks and working hard to expand our economy.

And so I want to thank you all for taking time. Mr. Mayor, I wish the Cubs all the best. (Laughter.) I made a significant contribution to the Cubs, as you might recall --

PARTICIPANT: Sammy.

THE PRESIDENT: -- when I was a -- yes, Sammy Sosa. I'll take great delight when they win.

PARTICIPANT: Thank you for Sammy.

THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming.

Let me answer a couple of questions, then we've got to go to Cincinnati. Deb.

Q: Do you think that the Justice Department can conduct an impartial investigation, considering the political ramifications of the CIA leak, and why wouldn't a special counsel be better?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.
"First they came for the rich...."

Check out White House advisor Grover Norquist's interview on NPR, as described in the New Dem Daily, in which he compares taxing the rich to the Holocaust. Not only is it truly offensive to Holocaust victims, but it's an insane comparison-- and scary coming from someone who has Bush's ear.

A shocked Terry Gross asks, "Excuse me one second. Did you just compare the estate tax with the Holocaust? "

Norquist replies: "No, the morality that says it's okay to do something to a group because they're a small percentage of the population is the morality that says that the Holocaust is okay because they didn't target everybody."

If I understand the analogy correctly, then Norquist should also be comparing cutting taxes on the rich as being as evil as the Holocaust. After all, the rich have been singled out for tax cuts, and now pay a much lower tax rate on capital gains than workers pay on earned income. I guess I still don't understand....
Couldn't have said it better myself -

From an Ecotecture, www.ecotecture.com email:

"Huffington has done the right thing-back out of the election so those who might vote for her will vote against the recall instead, and, in case the recall succeeds, will likely vote for Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante who actually has a chance to win should Davis be replaced.

But, once again, the Green Party is holding fast to its "principles," and Peter Camejo, it's candidate for governor, has vowed to fight to the finish. To what avail? So the party can have a little grave marker saying, "we did it our way?"

While there is still time, Camejo should follow in Huffington's footsteps. If he fails to do so, the Green voters themselves should opt for avoiding disaster over "expressing their conscience." There is simply too much at stake. "


Now, Camejo did *NOT* pull out of the race. Neither did Nader. Nader helped Bush get elected, certainly. Ralph vowed not to campaign in battleground states, then proceeded to do so once he was on the ballot.

Nader broke his own campaign pledge. He became a lying politician.

The environment has suffered due to his false pride. Bush has all but declared war on the planet, offering tax breaks for big SUV's, reducing strip-mining limitations which had helped limit toxic runoff into drinking water, and defying any attempt to get the Kyoto treaty going.

His own conservative EPA head, Christine Todd Whitman (who had once paid Afr.Am. preachers in NJ to tell their flocks to not vote - yeah democracy), resigned in disgust.

If Nader pulled out or was not on the ballot in New Hampshire (forget Florida - that one was fixed), Gore would have won.

I give my first honorary John Brown Award For Excellence in the Field of Defending Righteousness to the guy who hit Nader with a pie a little while back.

Too bad there wasn't a turd in the bottom of it.

PS I am a former Green Party member
More idiocy from Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez's column in the SF Chronicle today is more of the same from Bush supporters trying to discredit Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame. Chavez points out that Wilson was a Clinton appointee, but doesn't mention that he was also appointed ambassador to Gabon by President George H.W. Bush. Chavez tries to blame Plame for hurting national security by contributing to the Gore 2000 campaign and listing her employer, but fails to point out (as Robert Novak has reported) that she used a fictitious company name.
The bottom line is that it doesn't matter which political party Wilson and Plame belong to. Senior Bush administration officials leaked that Plame was a CIA operative, thereby committing a serious crime, and perhaps threatening national security and the lives of other CIA operatives. No amount of dissembling by Chavez can make that the fault of the Democrats.
From The Onion ...

Schwarzenegger Running Out Of Movie-Related Campaign Slogans

LOS ANGELES—Two months after he announced his candidacy for the California gubernatorial recall election, Arnold Schwarzenegger is running out of movie-related campaign quips. "Government and special-interest groups should not be 'Twins,'" the actor said during the Sept. 24 debate. At a fundraising breakfast Monday, the actor told a confused group of business leaders, "I will 'Jingle All The Way' to Sacramento!" Breakfast attendee Ken Straus said Schwarzenegger "really hit the bottom of the barrel" minutes later, when the actor announced, "In the movies, I played Hercules going bananas. But it's the tax-and-spend Democrats who are really going bananas."

(No more need to fear Davis and Bustamante suing Enron, like the Red Heat communistst they are. Didn't he also say he would Terminate the Twins in a Total Recall as a GOP Predator who was their Running Man, sick of True Lies? This, coming from a guy who played a pregnant man in a movie. Way to steal an election and bring a Raw Deal, Junior!)
The Drudge Report has reprinted an email circulating around Hollywood, by famed director/producer Howard "Hawk" Koch, Jr. Koch was executive producer of the 2002 Schwarzenegger film, "Collateral Damage."

"Friends, Please be sure to vote on Tuesday. Please be sure to vote NO on the recall. I know Arnold personally. He is in no way qualified to govern anybody or anything. I spent 6 months with him. He showed ZERO leadership qualities. Even less understanding of budgets. When speaking of women and adultery his line was 'Eating is not Cheating.' He called Latinos –'low foreheaded fans'!!! We must stop him and that means you must do whatever you can to be sure and get to your polling place. Also call or e-mail all your like minded or on the fence friends and get them out there. Thanks Hawk."

Good advice. Call or email your family and friends. I called my elderly, apolitical mother tonight. She didn't plan to vote until she heard Schwarzenegger talking over Huffington in the debate. She's burning mad now, scared of a Gov. Arnold, and is eager to cast a "No" vote on the recall, and a vote for Bustamante just in case.
Gov. Schwarzenegger Will Let Ken Lay & Enron Off the Hook

We all know what's going on with the California Recall. It's about the Republicans being sore losers and using a provision that was meant to be implemented only in cases of criminal conduct to overturn a legal election and unseat the Democratic governor of the largest state in the US. It's an opportunity to get Arnold Schwarzenegger, a rising star in the GOP, into power so that he may someday run for president. It's a move designed to bring more Americans into the GOP - "as Vin Weber, a former member of Congress and occasional adviser to the Bush administration, puts it, 'many people will think, 'If the Republican Party is good enough for Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is good enough for me.'" And it's a dress rehearsal for the 2004 presidential election. If Bush can win California with Arnold's help, who cares about Florida?

But Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, exposes a more sinister motivation for the recall campaign: to get Ken Lay and Enron off the hook for swindling billions from California taxpayers by putting one of their buddies in the governor's mansion. Schwarzenegger met with Ken Lay back on May 17, 2001 to formulate their plan.
Once Arnold is Governor, he blesses the sweetheart settlements [2 cents on the dollar] with the power companies.  When that happens, Bustamante's court cases are probably lost.  There aren't many judges who will let a case go to trial to protect a state if that a governor has already allowed the matter to be "settled" by a regulatory agency.

So think about this.  The state of California is in the hole by $8 billion for the coming year.  That's chump change next to the $8 TRILLION in deficits and surplus losses planned and incurred by George Bush.  Nevertheless, the $8 billion deficit is the hanging rope California's right wing is using to lynch Governor Davis.

You can get involved with the campaign against the recall, even if you don't live in California, by phone banking against the recall http://moveon.org/pac/pb/. You'll receive downloadable phone numbers to call from your personal location. With less than 20 hours before the polls open, there is still a lot that can be done to make sure that democracy is defended in California.
David Corn writes in The Nation how the White House's lies about weapons of mass destruction and the Valerie Wilson leak are catching up to them.
So all they have is spin. Bush changes the terms. McClellan, Rumsfeld, Rice insist that before the war everybody knew that Iraq had WMDs. Everybody, that is, except the folks putting together the intelligence assessments chockfull of uncertainties. When it comes to the Wilson affair, the White House ducks and covers, claiming it had no reason to react to the original anonymous-source leak, even though its officials (at the least) considered the leak solid enough to talk up to other reporters. And instead of confronting the ugly (and perhaps criminal) implications of the leak, the White House's allies in Washington lash out at Wilson, in a vicious blame-the-victim offensive, while Mister Change-the-Tone has nothing to say publicly about this. What if Wilson is a Democratic partisan? That does not excuse what was done to his wife.

Leaking and lying--these are not actions easy to explain away. Drip, drip, drip--that's the sound often associated with Washington scandals. But now it may also be the sound of the truth catching up to the propagandists and perps of the Bush White House.

Public statements by Bush seem to indicate that he is blissfully unaware of the ramifications of these lies, and worse, doesn't care.
For over two months, Bush had said nothing about the leak. And on this day, Bush met with reporters for African news organizations and joked about the anti-Wilson leak. When asked what he thought about the detention in Kenya of three journalists who had refused to reveal sources, he said, "I'm against leaks." This prompted laughter, and Bush went on: "I would suggest all governments get to the bottom of every leak of classified information." Addressing the reporter who had asked the question, Bush echoed the phrase that McClellan had frequently used in his press briefings and quipped, "By the way, if you know anything, Martin, would you please bring it forward and help solve the problem?"

While Bush makes wisecracks and gloats, I'm waiting for some brave Republicans to stand up for justice and do the right thing by calling for an independent counsel.
California uber alles (2)

At the height of the 1986 controversy over Kurt Waldheim's past as a Nazi war criminal, Arnold Schwarzenegger raised a toast to Waldheim at Arnold and Maria's wedding:

"My friends don't want me to mention Kurt's name, because of all the recent Nazi stuff and the U.N. controversy, but I love him and Maria does too, and so thank you, Kurt."

Waldheim was unable to attend the wedding.

The United States Department of Justice had placed Waldheim on the watch list of Nazi war criminals barred from entry to the U.S. But Schwarzenegger and Waldheim remained friends. Schwarzenegger endorsed Waldheim's controversial run for President of Austria, and the two were seen together were seen together in Austria on other occasions, as late as 1998.

Schwarzenegger expressed admiration for Hitler, according to transcripts of outtakes of "Pumping Iron." "Pumping Iron" director George Butler stated that Arnold was a "flagrant, outspoken admirer of Hitler," played "Nazi marching songs from long-playing records in his collection at home," and "frequently clicked his heels and pretended to be an SS officer."

And at his wedding, Arnold toasted a notorious Nazi war criminal. Doesn't Schwarzenegger owe the voters of California more of an explanation of the evolution of his thinking on the subject of Nazism and the Holocaust?
Arnold: Help is available

Diagnostic criteria for 302.89 Frotteurism

A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving touching and rubbing against a non-consenting person.

B. The person has acted on these urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Copyright 2000 American Psychiatric Association
California Uber Alles

From the ABCNews website tonight:

ABCNEWS obtained a copy of an unpublished book proposal with quotes from a verbatim transcript of an interview Schwarzenegger gave in 1975 while making the film Pumping Iron.

Asked who his heroes are, he answered, "I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."

He is quoted as saying he wished he could have an experience, "like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium. And have all those people scream at you and just being total agreement whatever you say."
The Governor's Mansion or the State Penitentiary?

The L.A. Times has just released its investigation of the complaints of numerous women over the years that Schwarzenegger, without consent, touched them in a sexual manner. Each assault had in common the intent to humiliate the woman. The article makes a good case that our soon-to-be governor, like many sexual predators, enjoys the excitement of non-consensual sexual sadism.

It's shocking that anyone could get away with such behavior, as we were shocked at the Catholic priests who got away with so many assaults. What Schwarzenegger has in common with the offending priests is that he used his position of power to silence the victims. Arnold's victims feared for their livelihoods, so they kept quiet.

It sickens me that the people of California are ready to make this man governor.