June 25, 2008 archive

Senator J. Wellington Wimpy.

Worth a cool 15-20 milly and yet you’re still maxed on the plastic?

McCains report more than $100,000 in credit card debt

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his wife reported more than $100,000 of credit card liabilities, according to financial disclosure documents released Friday.

The presidential candidate and his wife Cindy reported piling up debt on a charge card between $10,000 and $15,000. His wife’s solo charge card has between $100,000 and $250,000 in debt to American Express.

McCain’s wife also has a second American Express charge card listed on the senator’s financial disclosure that was carrying $100,000 to $250,000 in debt.

Another charge card with American Express, this one for a “dependent child,” is carrying debt in the range of $15,000 and $50,000.

Not Good News-Vets-PTSD

We need the Civilian population Now to come to the Aid of this Countries Veterans and start a Hard Lobby, to their Representatives, in Support of it’s Veterans!

Especially for these Veterans of todays Conflicts, Support from the Country that was Overwelming, over 70%, in Favor of Invasion and Occupation and now Pays Little Heed to!

Saturday Bike Blogging, Midweek Edition

I’ve been so busy getting on top of this teaching gig that I’ve been letting the blogging slide.

OTOH, while I cycled an insane 14 miles to work (and then back) the second half of last year when I was lucky enough to get called in … now I am cycling a perfectly sane 3 miles.

So just some random observations on a special midweek edition of Saturday Bike Blogging.

Four at Four

  1. Yet another tactic by the Bush adminstration to circumvent evidence that conflicts with the desired outcome. The New York Times reports the White House refused to open Pollutants E-Mail.

    The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.

    The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said…

    Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

    Both documents, as prepared by the E.P.A., showed that the Clean Air Act can work for certain sectors of the economy, to reduce greenhouse gases,” one of the senior E.P.A. officials said. That’s not what the administration wants to show. They want to show that the Clean Air Act can’t work.

  2. Here’s today war update. The LA Times reports Afghanistan attacks up 40% in east.

    Insurgent activity is increasing sharply in Afghanistan and has spread into once stable areas, with attacks up almost 40% in the eastern provinces alone, according to new American military data that have prompted alarm among senior Pentagon officials.

    Rising attacks against Afghan and NATO troops in the east represent the latest in a series of troubling developments that have led to markedly higher U.S. casualties and have prompted the military’s top leadership to order a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, including how to make do with limited numbers of American troops.

    This year, 50 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan. “Last year’s troop buildup in Iraq and the overall strain on U.S. ground forces have made it almost impossible to increase force levels in Afghanistan.” The Pentegon now plans to redeploy about 1,000 U.S. soldiers now in Iraq to Afghanistan in October to serve as trainers.

    For the first time publicly, Afghanistan has accused the Pakistani intelligence service of having a role in Karzai assassination plot, according to the NY Times. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was targeted in a Kabul parade in April. Afghan authorities claim to have “evidence of the direct involvement of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, in the assassination attempt.” The ISI orchestrated the takeover of Afghanistain by the Taliban in the early 1990s.

    Meanwhile the deaths continue in Iraq. The NY Times reports Three U.S. soldiers were killed by bomb in Iraq. The soldiers and their interpreter were killed in Ninewa Province when a improvised roadside bomb detonated during the night. It was the “second large explosion to strike the Mosul region in a day and further evidence that Sunni Arab guerrillas remain very active in the northern city despite recent Iraqi military operations.” 25 American troops have been killed in June to date. There are approximately 150,000 U.S. service members deployed in Iraq.

Four at Four continues with the Supreme Court’s mixed decision on the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Everglades land deal between U.S. Sugar and Florida.

Through the Darkest of Nights: Testament XXIV

Every few days over the next several months I will be posting installments of a novel about life, death, war and politics in America since 9/11.  Through the Darkest of Nights is a story of hope, reflection, determination, and redemption.  It is a testament to the progressive values we all believe in, have always defended, and always will defend no matter how long this darkness lasts.  But most of all, it is a search for identity and meaning in an empty world.

Naked and alone we came into exile.  In her dark womb, we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. Which of us has known his brother?  Which of us has looked into his father’s heart?  Which of us has not remained prison-pent?  Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?      ~Thomas Wolfe

All installments are available for reading here on Docudharma’s Series page, and also here on Docudharma’s Fiction Page, where refuge from politicians, blogging overload, and one BushCo outrage after another can always be found.

in Other news…

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but it seemed like a good time to let people know what’s going on in the world of queer politics and activism.  I’ll try to post these more regularly again, but my schedule’s still a little sporadic to fix a concrete posting time.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy, and if you have other news blurbs that I’ve missed, please feel free to add them below.

  • Of course the big news lately is the flood of marriages in California (to which my own will soon be added), which has not caused the Biblical flood predicted by our right-wing religious compatriots.  In LA county alone, the first day of legal marriages prompted some three times the usual marriage traffic (pdf!).  If you need a real boost today, check out the Bilerico Project’s photo page, and bask in the joy of thousands of happy families.  

    The liberal media is stoking the flames, with noted leftist rag The Wall Street Journal posting an unequivocally positive editorial, “Gay Marriage is Good for America”:  

    In 2008, denying gay Americans the opportunity to marry is not only inhumane, it is unsustainable. History has turned a corner: Gay couples – including gay parents – live openly and for the most part comfortably in mainstream life. This will not change, ever.

  • From heaven to hell in one quick leap:

    Violence against the transgender community rarely makes the evening news, but the case of Duanna Johnson is so extreme that people are starting to pay attention.  While being booked for alleged prostitution in Memphis, a police officer called over to her:

    Actually he was trying to get me to come over to where he was, and I responded by telling him that wasn’t my name – that my mother didn’t name me a ‘faggot’ or a ‘he-she,’ so he got upset and approached me. And that’s when it started,” Johnson said.

    I can’t do justice to what happens next: you need to see the video for yourself.  WMCtv provides the full security clip, so you can see that it’s not being taken out of context (the incident in question starts around the 1:30 mark.)

    One police officer let go, another put into an office job, and a pending investigation with support from the FBI.  But the Memphis police is being flooded with complaints that this was not an isolated incident.  Do we laugh or cry at something like this?

    “It made me sick,” [Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin] said Thursday. “I was infuriated. I notified the FBI because they needed to investigate to see if this person’s civil rights were violated.”

    If this person’s civil rights were violated???

  • The State vs. The People: FISA.

    Will The State protect the Fourth Amendment rights of The People, or the ‘rights’ of The Corporations?

    If you are wondering why “our representatives” in Congress are positively eager to immunize the TelCorps, here is your answer. The Government needs The Corporations in order to spy on you. If they don’t immunize them, The Corporations are threatening not to spy on you for The Government.

    If Congress immunizes The Corporations…and the government itself…for spying on Americans, and legalizes The State and The Corporations “teaming up” (conspiring) to do so in the future, we officially enter a new era.

    An era that officially puts the interests of Corporations above the interests of The People. A new era Corporate Government. An era that raises up Corporate Entities to the level of the Government. The era of The Corporate State.

    This is a collusion that gives these Corporations an essential role in our “national security.” A collusion that makes The Corporations and The Government into partners for the purpose of spying on The People, the citizens of the United States. A collusion that makes The Government dependent on The Corporations. A collusion that gives power over YOU, an America citizen, not to your duly elected Government, but to a privately owned entity that has no interest in your rights, no interest but power and profit, and no accountability. They will however, have the power to blackmail the Government at any time by refusing to cooperate. They will use this power to their advantage….to get more power over your Government. To get more power over you. Even if you take any dark suspicions out of the picture, if the Telcoms are partners with the Government, how do you think Telcom legislation will go in the future? How do you think Net Neutrality will turn out? What will The Government decide to do with the vast apparatus of ALL of our communications at their disposal, to “fight the terrorists?”

    Troops Against the War: A Soldier Apologizes

    (Once again Jeri Reed has forwarded me an important article, like the one she wrote here a few months ago. Once again she has pulled my coattail to something by Casey J. Porter, the Iraq Veteran Against the War member who has been vlogging from outside of Baghdad. This time it’s just words, but what powerful words!)

    By Casey J. Porter

    I feel pretty lousy as a human being today. I had to turn away this Iraqi man at our gate here at the outpost. At some point the army took over this factory in the industrial part of Baghdad and we’ve been here ever since. He was an older man, diabetic, with multiple folders of paper work to show. He didn’t speak any English and wished to talk to an interpreter. I was guarding the gate and was the one to call it in. So they send out the “Terp” as we call them. This older man was not looking for a handout. He was the former owner of a paint shop that is built right up the building we now occupy. He was asking for compensation for his workers because they are no longer able to work now that we are here.

    Why can’t they work? Because they are terrified of us. Also, when we get rocket or mortar attacks, they don’t always land where the insurgents want them to. Sometimes they fall short or overshoot their target. So when we set up shop, the people that can afford to leave, do.

    He wasn’t like the younger Iraqi Police Force guys. They get so much free stuff from you, the taxpayer, that it’s insane. Then they always ask us to give them stuff. They are like children with AK-47s. This man was not like that. He was looking out for his workers. The translator was telling me what he was saying when things got confusing. The Iraqi man was saying: “You are the United States, human rights for all, etc., etc.”

    I’m not sure what else he said after that since it was clear that the Terp changed gears right after that. But that older gentleman wasn’t being hostile about what he was saying, and I was all ears. Within his paper work he had forms and documents that proved he was the owner and operator, among other aspects of his business I’m sure. With the exception of the language, it looked a lot like the paperwork my father had for his business.

    I called it up to the commander and the reply was to tell him to fuck off. He couldn’t hear any of this because we keep the radio in the truck. I wasn’t going to do that to this man. We screwed him over, and he was just looking out for his people. I told the Terp to translate the following:

    “I can not authorize any money to be given to you. I also can not promise that anyone will see you. All I can tell you is to keep coming back until someone takes care of your needs.”

    He finally said that he would come back in about a week or so. Before he left I had the Terp translate one more thing before he left.

    “I’m sorry for what we’ve done to your country.”

    The man said “Thank You” in English to me. I hope that even though we had to talk through an interpreter that he understood that I felt for him, and was not blowing him off.

    Either way I felt, and still feel, pretty rotten about the whole thing. I’m not supposed to be the bad guy.

    Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

    Flood Will Cause Huge Gulf Kill Zone, Seas Suffocating Globally

    Since 1995 the number of oceanic dead zones, masses of oxygen depleted water deadly to most marine life, has grown from 44 to 169. The International Whaling Commission reported that dead zones are killing the world’s coastlines, increasing by a third in the last two years.  

    Mississippi flood waters, fouled with run off of sewage and fertilizer, are forecast to cause a record dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico later this summer.

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
    By IWC

    Sen. Obama: Yes, You Can Keep Your Word To Hold Bush Accountable – Stop The FISA Bush Immunity

    In April 2008, Attytood asked Senator Obama if he as President would hold former Bush administration officials accountable by seeking prosecution for crimes committed.  Obama promised that he would review the information to determine whether an investigation was required; and, if officials knowingly violated existing laws, Obama indicated that he would pursue prosecution.  

    Based upon Obama’s standard, there should be an investigation and potential criminal prosecution of Bush and other officials for knowingly violating FISA. Bush has admitted publicly that he did not comply with FISA, which is a criminal offense.  

    However, the FISA bill pending before the Senate may take this putative prosecution off the table by providing immunity to Bush while codifying his unitary executive theory.  In order for President Obama to keep his word that he would hold Bush officials accountable for clear, knowing criminal violations, Senator Obama needs to stop this FISA bill, or at least provide amendments which clearly eliminate any colorable argument of immunity for Bush.  

    tom friedman: what a Real President would do

    Ta dah……… another stunning assessment of George W. Bush, his policies, and what a real president would do from Thomas Friedman in today’s New York Time’s column. Yeah, the inescapable Tom Friedman: a cheerleader of the war in Iraq. A public intellectual and New York Times Columnist… part of that liberal media about which we hear so much.

    You do remember Thomas Friedman? The man who brought us such great catch-phrases as the Arab street and Generation Q? Yes. It’s the same one. The exact same one who made the Iraq war sound grand in a 2005 talk:

    This is not about oil. This is about something really noble, crazy noble. It is the first attempt in the modern history of the Arab world for Arabs in their own country to forge their own social contract, their own constitution.

    Not only would democracy become rampant in the Middle East, but “a successful Iraq is our Iran reform policy.” In his droning, self-assured, and utterly annoying manner, he  told his audience that “The Shi’ite Muslims who will assume the majority of Iraq’s government posts are the same Shi’ites who live in Iran.” According to the newspaper account of the speech, Friedman said if Iraq succeeds it will ratchet up the pressure for democratic reform in Iran.

    Well, today’s column is really a gas. And what I really loved about it, Mr. Bush, Lead or Leave (besides the side-splittingly funny lede), is it’s real he-man muscular language. Here’s  a sample…

    What they need now is a big U.S. market where lots of manufacturers have an incentive to install solar panels and wind turbines . . . without subsidies.

    That seems to be exactly what the Republican Party is trying to block, since the Senate Republicans – sorry to say, with the help of John McCain – have now managed to defeat the renewal of these tax credits six different times.

    Of course, we’re going to need oil for years to come. That being the case, I’d prefer – for geopolitical reasons – that we get as much as possible from domestic wells. But our future is not in oil, and a real president wouldn’t be hectoring Congress about offshore drilling today. He’d be telling the country a much larger truth:

    “Oil is poisoning our climate and our geopolitics, and here is how we’re going to break our addiction: We’re going to set a floor price of $4.50 a gallon for gasoline and $100 a barrel for oil. And that floor price is going to trigger massive investments in renewable energy – particularly wind, solar panels and solar thermal. And we’re also going to go on a crash program to dramatically increase energy efficiency, to drive conservation to a whole new level and to build more nuclear power. And I want every Democrat and every Republican to join me in this endeavor.”

    That’s what a real president would do. He’d give us a big strategic plan to end our addiction to oil and build a bipartisan coalition to deliver it. He certainly wouldn’t be using his last days in office to threaten Congressional Democrats that if they don’t approve offshore drilling by the Fourth of July recess, they will be blamed for $4-a-gallon gas. That is so lame. That is an energy policy so unworthy of our Independence Day.

    I loved how he slipped in the for geopolitical reasons that we get as much as possible from domestic wells while encouraging Bush, if Bush wanted to be a real president, to tell the country larger truths.

    From what fucking planet is Thomas Friedman? Talking about George Bush telling truth to anybody is ridiculous. To try to appear like you’re a cool environmentally friendly liberal columnist guy and set us up for drilling the arctic is going a tad too far. And oh my god, you’re sorry to say John McCain is leading Republicans in defeating incentives for renewable energy.

    Troops Against the War: One Sentence Tells The Story

    Unlike, say, the network television news programs, the print media still makes sporadic bids at covering the Iraq war. (All praise be unto the McClatchy chain, of course).

    Last week the Christian Science Monitor carried an interesting piece by Sam Dagher, about a married couple who works as interpreters for the US occupation. They are, unsurprisingly, desperate to get out of the country and into the US. The two, whom Darger calls Chris and Sarah, have completed their paperwork, which requires, inter alia, a written recommendation from a US general (!), but nothing much seems to be happening.

    Unlike, say, the network television news programs, the print media still makes sporadic bids at covering the Iraq war. (All praise be unto the McClatchy chain, of course). Last week the Christian Science Monitor carried an interesting piece by Sam Dagher, about a married couple who works as interpreters for the US occupation. They are, unsurprisingly, desperate to get out of the country and into the US. The two Iraqis, whom Darger calls Chris and Sarah, have completed their paperwork, which requires, inter alia, a written recommendation from a US general (!), but nothing much seems to be happening.

    The money quote comes near the end of the article:

    Both describe the frequent arguments they have with US soldiers stationed in Iraq who do not believe they are fighting for a worthy cause and speak disparagingly of Bush.

    There’s the story for you, folks. One more bit of evidence that the troops too have turned against Bush’s sucking chest wound of a war.

    Many thanks for the tip to Tom Barton, the indefatigable compiler/editor of the (almost) daily email digest G.I. Special, widely read in the Armed Forces. Check it out here.

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