Monday, February 28, 2005
After a meeting with the other Republicans on his committee, Mr. Grassley repeated to reporters what he has been saying for weeks - that the success or failure of the plan depended on whether the president could persuade voters at the grass roots that the Social Security system was in jeopardy and that his approach was the right way to fix the problem. ... Mr. Grassley, the most important senator on Social Security policy, said that after holding 18 town meetings at home in Iowa last week, he believed that there was still "a lack of understanding" of the issue among his constituents and that if the president did not do a better job of teaching them, "nothing is going to happen."
Right now, he said, "it's too doggone early" to tell if Mr. Bush is making progress. Asked when that might be clearer, Mr. Grassley responded, "Maybe in another two or three weeks I would like to see some movement" in the opinion polls "or you might have some question about the president succeeding." Cont.
The Mount Sinai Center for Children's Health and the Environment combined a number of previous studies to determine hundreds of thousands of babies are born every year with lower IQ associated with mercury exposure.
Using work examining the effects of lead exposure on IQ, researchers determined that even a 1.6 point drop in IQ could cost a person $31,800 in lifetime earnings because of missed educational opportunities or jobs. ... Mount Sinai released its findings in hopes of influencing the debate over legislation before Congress, known as Clear Skies, that would change how the government regulates emissions from power plants and other sources.
Released on 02/28/05: Officials: Bin Laden Urges Zarqawi to Hit U.S.
An example they presented was "The Future of Social Security" booklet -- which used to begin: "Will Social Security be there for you? Absolutely." It now begins: "Social Security must change."
The report, based on a review of over 4,000 pages of Social Security documents from 1995 to 2005, reveals that the agency has systematically altered agency publications, press releases, PowerPoint presentations, website content, and even its annual statements to foster the impression that Social Security is "unsustainable" and "must change," they say in a news release.
The agency's new pessimistic tone and emphasis echo President Bush's warnings about the future of Social Security, it added. Cont.
Whoever can provide the best idea for a website, and is willing to host it will receive the domain for their very own.
Good luck and may the most creative idea win! Link
“This closure sends the dire message to your workers and the public that any attempt to unionize in order to request better healthcare, higher wages, or improved benefits will be met with both the loss of jobs by your employees and the loss of a revenue source for the community,” the representatives wrote in a letter to H. Lee Scott, Jr., President and CEO of Wal-Mart.
“This is a regrettable precedent to be set by the world’s largest corporation.”
Rep Grijalva, commenting on the store closing, noted the increasing use of firings and store closings to punish and prevent union organizing. “In about one of every four attempts to organize, the employer resorts to illegal firings. On top of that, due to weak labor laws and lax enforcement by the National Labor Relations Board, employers often feel free to refuse to negotiate in good faith and stall indefinitely. Wal-Mart is a big part of the problem, but it also goes much deeper than that.” Cont.
To Contact Rep. Grijalva
Celebrating the passing of a bill to limit class-action lawsuits, he told the business group: "We can deliver on issues that in the last Congress were tough."
On Monday, Mr Frist is hoping to deliver on another, as the Senate begins debate on bankruptcy legislation that has vexed Congress for years.
The measure, first considered in 1997, would make it more difficult for consumers to wipe out their debt by declaring bankruptcy. "Instead of falling back on bankruptcy as an option of last resort, more Americans misuse it as a financial tool to wipe away their debts altogether," says Chuck Grassley, author of the bill. Cont.
but, i didn't hear about it until yesterday while reading Mother Jones hmmm i wonder why?)....this huge tax giveaway was one of the BIGGEST giveaways in over 20 years to corporations...the president had nothing to brag about and his signature expanded exactly the sort of tax avoidance Bush* had railed against at a campaign rally that same morning in Wilkes-Barre, PA saying, "The rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason when it comes to taxes. That's to slip the bill and stick you with it."
"American Jobs Creation Act of 2004" Though the law began as an effort to end a $5 billion-a-year corporate tax subsidy that had been declared illegal by the WTO, it had grown into a hydra-headed beast. The laws author Bill Thomas (R) referred to it as "Miss Piggy" (Hey Rude!)
Corporate taxes are at their lowest level in 20 years. Nearly 95% of corporations now pay LESS than 5% of their income in taxes. This despite a tax rate that officially stands at 35%. Cont.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, a highly controversial and little-known conservative think tank which has been sending Social Security “fright mail” for years, paid for two posh trips for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) in 1996 and 2000, each at the cost of at least $64,000.
NCPPR also gave $1,000 to DeLay’s legal defense fund in 2004.
While another conservative group stole the limelight for an ad linking the AARP to gay marriage, NCPPR has operated below the radar on controversial issues since its founding in the early 1980s.
The Commerce Department said the sharp January drop in incomes followed a record 3.7 percent jump in incomes in December with both months heavily influenced by a $3 per share dividend payment that computer software giant Microsoft made on Dec. 2. Meanwhile, the number of new single-family homes sold in January fell 9.2 percent, the agency said in a second report. Cont.
``What are you going to do about that chart?'' he urged the crowd to ask their senators and representatives.
What Bush didn't tell his audience was that if the forecast is correct, the U.S. will have its worst economic performance since the Great Depression. Cont.
Sunday, February 27, 2005
The foundation is a private entity, but it is reported to have ties to the Bush administration, and its president/CEO is a former Republican National Committee member.
The prize "sure has a strong stench of a payoff to yet another White House sycophant," said "Non Sequitur" cartoonist Wiley Miller, whose Universal Press Syndicate comic appears in 700-plus newspapers and includes political commentary.
"Is this how they're going to get around direct payoffs, by pretending it's some sort of journalism award?" Cont.
As a result, the list of Bradley grant recipients reads like a Who's Who of the U.S.Right.
Bradley money supports such major right-wing groups as the Heritage Foundation, source of policy papers on budget cuts, supply-side economics and the Star Wars military plan for the Reagan administration; the Madison Center for Educational Affairs, which provides funding for right-wing research and a network of conservative student newspapers; and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, literary home for such racist authors as Charles Murray (The Bell Curve) and Dinesh D'Souza (The End of Racism), former conservative
officeholders Jeane Kirkpatrick, Jack Kemp and William Bennett, and arch-conservative jurists Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia.
Other Bradley grantees include the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation; the Hoover Institute on War, Revolution, and Peace; and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
There are the major conservative publications, such as The Public Interest, The National Interest,and The American Spectator. And there are organizations set up to play specific roles in promoting the right-wing agenda, such as the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm that promotes privatization and deregulation, and the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a vehicle for building support for privitization in low-income communities.
Wal-Mart Canada was ordered by Quebec's labor relations board on Friday to stop intimidating workers at a store in the midst of an organizing drive.
The decision involves three cashiers at a store in the Quebec City suburb of St. Foy and is the second unfair labor practice ruling against Wal-Mart in Quebec since September.
Earlier this month, Wal-Mart Canada, a unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, announced that it would close a store in Jonquiere, Quebec, where employees had unionized and were attempting to negotiate the first collective agreement with the retail giant in North America.
The board ordered Wal-Mart to immediately stop "intimidating and harassing" the cashiers in St. Foy. But it imposed a relatively light penalty: Wal-Mart must post the decision in the store's lunchroom for 30 days.
Nevertheless, Jossee Lemieux, president of Local 503 of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Union, said the decision was significant.
"Wal-Mart cannot violate the fundamental rights of its employees without paying any consequences," Lemieux said in a statement. Cont.
Several meetings have taken place in Stevens Point and Marshfield, and organizers hope they will grow in size and popularity.George Lakoff, a University of California-Berkeley professor of linguistics and cognitive science, has a video and book that address how to win elections by changing the message."One of the problems progressives have is, they are divided, and we must unify," Lakoff said on the video, "How Democrats and Progressives Can Win." Democracy for America chapters are using his four rules of engagement to restructure their responses on local, state and national issues. Those rules are: Show respect; reframe the issue in context of progressive values; think and talk at the level of those values; and say what you believe. Cont.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
2. NEVER SAY Privatization/Private Accounts - INSTEAD SAY: Personalization/Personal Accounts
3. NEVER SAY Tax Reform - INSTEAD SAY: Tax Simplification
4. NEVER SAY Inheritance/Estate Tax - INSTEAD SAY: The Death Tax
5. NEVER SAY A Global Economy/Globalization/Capitalism - INSTEAD SAY: Free Market Economy
6. NEVER SAY Outsourcing - INSTEAD SAY: Taxation, Regulation, Litigation Innovation, Education
7. NEVER SAY Undocumented Workers - INSTEAD SAY: Illegal Aliens
8. NEVER SAY Foreign Trade - INSTEAD SAY: International Trade
9. NEVER SAY Drilling for oil - INSTEAD SAY: Exploring for energy
10. NEVER SAY Tort Reform - INSTEAD SAY: Lawsuit Abuse Reform
11. NEVER SAY Trial Lawyer - INSTEAD SAY: Personal Injury Lawyer
12. NEVER SAY Corporate Transparency - INSTEAD SAY: Corporate Accountability
13. NEVER SAY School Choice - INSTEAD SAY: Parental Choice/Equal Opportunity in Education
14. NEVER SAY Health care "Choice" - INSTEAD SAY: "The Right to Choose"
Link for Whole 160 page Document
Remarkably brazen, given that the only checks Mr. Bush seems to believe in are those written to the "journalists" Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Karen Ryan, the fake TV anchor, to help promote his policies. The administration has given a whole new meaning to checkbook journalism, paying a stupendous $97 million to an outside P.R. firm to buy columnists and produce propaganda, including faux video news releases.
The ranks of federal public affairs officials swelled during the Bush administration's first term, but that hasn't meant that government information is easier to get.
The staffs that handle public relations for government agencies grew even faster than the federal work force, personnel records show, yet at the same time the White House tightened its control over messages to the news media and restricted access to public information.
"The role of public affairs officers is not to make information available to the public, as one would naively assume," said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the nonpartisan Federation of American Scientists.
"Rather," he said, "it is to regulate public access to information, which is something quite different."
The White House declined to comment on the trend. Staffing changes are up to the agencies, not the White House, spokeswoman Erin Healy said. Cont
But one thing is for sure: Jeff Gannon is on the lips of every insider in Washington D.C., and many say he's been kissing some of them, too -- for $200/ hour and $1,200 / weekend. His profiles on escort websites say he leaves no marks, only lasting impressions.
So, I ask again -- have you seen this man? Have you slept with this man? Do you know this man?A local socialite, who wishes to remain anonymous, has teamed up with this site to offer a $10,000 reward to anyone that can provide hard proof (photos, phone pictures, locks of hair, DNA on a suit) that Jeff Gannon acted as a gay prostitute with top-ranking officials here in Washington.
Contact for reward.
This must have something to do with AARP running amuck. Damn them!
The shutdown follows a pattern of behavior where the former White House reporter and still male prostitute withdraws from a web presence after just one day of bearing the brunt of opposition critics.
This time, the decision came after repeated harsh words were bandied around the liberal blogosphere regarding the quality of Guckert's new venture.
In a statement left on what used to be JeffGannon.com, Guckert described how "the Left made fun of me and my decision to keep the graphic presentatoin [sic] simple to Ried [sic]." Guckert's blog was alleged by other blogs to have numerous misspellings, inexplicably random font sizes and an unflattering photo of Guckert (clothed)."One liberal site called my blog 'shitty,' according to Guckert's online statement.
"That's just so typical of the horible [sic] allegations the Left makes about my Republican male escort services. Oops. Did I just say 'male escort services'? I meant to just THINK that. I'll go back and correct that later."Guckert could not be reached for comment, but he might be busy working on his new website which he describes as "a cross between wholsome [sic] Republican values and that Peter Pan Guy."As for his very short-lived blog, Guckert's parting shot was to the point.
"So feared by the Left I had to take my blog down."
Rep Alvin Holmes (D) countered the law by trying to pass it with adultery, fornication and oral sex included.
After it didn’t pass because of what Rep. Holmes put in the bill, he then turned it around on the Judge Roy Moore crowd for voting it down, using the fact Adultery hurts the sanctity of marriage more than gay marriage would.
See it here... Great fight at the end of the show!
Mr Powell, in his first interview since resigning last November, also told The Telegraph of his "dismay" at the deterioration in relations between America and Europe and of his "disappointment" with France.
Mr Powell said he had warned President George W Bush over dinner in August 2002 that the problem with Iraq was not going to be the invasion but what followed. Link
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
The upcoming meeting in Bratislava on Thursday between President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush will perhaps be the most useless summit in the history of U.S.-Russia interactions since the collapse of the Soviet Union. One side, Russia, no longer cares what the other has to say, while the other, the United States, has lost whatever leverage it once had in Russian politics, both domestic and international. This was the outcome of the U.S. policy orchestrated by the White House and its National Security Council, which until recently was led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. This policy, though presumed to be pragmatic, has proven to be extremely ill-conceived. Link
In this experiment, the protocol is a clairvoyant one. When you are ready, the computer will select 25 cards at random, each of which will show one of the five Zener symbols. There are no limits to how often each symbol can be selected (i.e. the pack of cards from which the computer makes its selection is limitless!). Your task is to use psi to determine which cards have been selected. On the next screen, you will see 25 sets of 5 Zener cards.
When you are ready, please click link
Saturday, February 19, 2005
- Gannon attended White House Christmas parties -- but who invited him?
- FOX's Special Report downplayed concerns over Negroponte's questionable actions in Honduras
- NY Times echoed DeLay's misleading claims about Social Security cap
- Krauthammer claimed Social Security trust fund is "fictional"
- Limbaugh: "We don't retract anything we do here because we never lie and make things up on this program"
- How liberal is CBS really?
- Gingrich falsely claimed that Republican senators never "systematically tried to obstruct" Clinton judicial nominees
- O'Reilly used phony stats to claim "staggering increase" in spending on food stamps, housing assistance
- Hyman smeared university professors, including one who regularly refutes "The Point"
- Limbaugh called Nation editor, husband "well-known communists"
- O'Reilly compared lesbian parents on PBS' Buster cartoon to "a bigamy situation in Utah" or "an S&M thing in the East Village"
- On FOX: "I really haven't heard anything negative about John Negroponte"
- American Enterprise Institute published "Jeff Gannon"
- O'Reilly: "I saved SpongeBob single-handedly. All right?"
Friday, February 18, 2005
Gannongate is reminiscent of a huge political scandal that surfaced in Nebraska in 1989 when it was learned that Lawrence King, the head of Franklin Community Credit Union in Omaha and a rising African American star in the GOP (he sang the national anthem at George H. W. Bush's 1988 nominating convention in New Orleans), was a kingpin—along with top Republicans in Nebraska and Washington, DC, including George H. W. Bush—in a child prostitution and pedophilia scandal.
King was later convicted and jailed for fraud but pedophile and prostitution charges were never brought against him and other Nebraska Republican businessmen and politicians.The scandal, investigated by Nebraska State Senator Loran Schmit, his assistant John DeCamp (a former GOP state senator), State Senate Committee investigator Gary Caradori, and former CIA Director William Colby, reached the very top echelons of the George H. W. Bush administration and GOP.
Child prostitutes from Boys Town and other orphanages in Nebraska as well as children procured from China were reportedly flown to Washington for sexcapades with Republican politicians.
GOP lobbyist Craig Spence and a number of GOP officials in the administration and Congress were implicated in the scandal, including Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole's liaison to the White House. Young male members of the military in Washington, DC, were particularly sought after by the prostitution ring.
During the early 1980s, a number of naval officers were implicated in a child pornography ring that extended from Oregon to the San Francisco Bay area and to Chicago and Washington, DC. The story about that ring was covered up by then-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman.
I am an Iraqi woman, and I am boycotting the elections. Women who do vote will be voting for an enslaved future. Surely, say those who support these elections, after decades of tyranny, here at last is a form of democracy, imperfect, but democracy nevertheless?
In reality, these elections are, for Iraq's women, little more than a cruel joke. Amid the suicide attacks, kidnappings and U.S.-led military assaults since Saddam Hussein's fall, the little-reported phenomenon is the sharp increase in the persecution of Iraqi women. Women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity and of a political establishment that cares little for women's empowerment. Link
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan stated that Guckert was granted access in part because he was affiliated with a news organization that "publishes regularly." But yesterday, bloggers discovered video footage suggesting this standard was not applied to Guckert.Video footage of a Feb. 25, 2003 White House press briefing shows Guckert, apparently unaffiliated with any news organization, asking former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer a question.
It is unclear why Guckert was granted any pass at this time, since the Internet-based Talon News did not register its domain name until March 29, 2003. Link
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, said a sudden military crisis in one of those two nations — both of which are resisting U.S. demands that they give up nuclear programs — would likely force the Pentagon to remobilize reserve and Guard components that have rotated home from Iraq to rest.In addition, because of the current strain on U.S. forces, it would take longer for U.S. troops to respond to a crisis in Iran, North Korea or some other major conflict than U.S. battle plans call for, Myers told the House Armed Services Committee.
I'm still mystified by this story. I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the "Barberini Faun" is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?
I am very impressed with James Guckert, a k a Jeff Gannon.
How often does an enterprising young man, heralded in press reports as both a reporter and a contributor to such sites as Hotmilitarystud.com, Workingboys.net, Militaryescorts.com, MilitaryescortsM4M.com and Meetlocalmen.com, get to question the president of the United States?
Who knew that a hotmilitarystud wanting to meetlocalmen could so easily get to be face2face with the commander in chief?
It's hard to believe the White House could hit rock bottom on credibility again, but it has, in a bizarre maelstrom that plays like a dark comedy. How does it credential a man with a double life and a secret past?
"Jeff Gannon" was waved into the press room nearly every day for two years as the conservative correspondent for two political Web sites operated by a wealthy Texas Republican. Scott McClellan often called on the pseudoreporter for softball questions.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Email address’s to respond are on the bottom of the articles.
- James Roosevelt Jr: Hume's "outrageous distortion" of FDR "calls for a retraction, an apology, maybe even a resignation"
- Limbaugh accused CBS of "misrepresent[ing]" what he said about McNabb before Super Bowl
- In WSJ online article, du Pont falsely claimed "Social Security taxes are not invested in anything"
- CJR Daily's critique doesn't register
- FOX's oil-for-food special smeared Annan, left out facts
- Ingraham, Hannity revived claim that "Al Gore brought up Willie Horton"
Here is a timeline of Reagan’s dealings with Lebanon:
- 1982: After receiving a "green light" from the U.S., Israel invades Lebanon to crush Palestinian and other anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli forces. Over 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians are killed, and Israel seizes southern Lebanon, holding it until 2000.
- September 14, 1982: Lebanon's pro-U.S. President-elect, Bashir al-Jumayyil, is assassinated. The following day, Israeli forces occupy West Beirut, and from 16 to 18 September, the Phalangist militia, with the support of Israel's military under now-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, move into the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps and barbarically massacre over 1,000 unarmed Palestinian men, women, and children.
- 1983: U.S. sends troops to Lebanon, supposedly as part of a multinational "peace-keeping" operation but in reality to protect U.S. interests, including Israel's occupation forces. U.S. troops are withdrawn after a suicide bomber destroys a U.S. Marine barracks.
And in '85, they propose training foreign intelligence agents to go out kind of as hit teams and destroy the terrorists. This did not work. And finally Casey in 1985 worked out with the Saudis a plan to use a car bomb to kill Sheik [Mohammed Hussein] Fadlallah who they determined was one of the people behind, not only the Marine barracks [bombing], but was involved in the taking of American hostages in Beirut.
Because diplomacy and military action didn't work. We took the Marines out of Lebanon after the bombing. Diplomacy was not functioning. And Reagan wanted action. And Casey went off the books on his own, and worked it out with the Saudis to pay two million dollars to get...people to build this car bomb that killed eighty innocent people in Beirut [in 1985] and not Sheik Fadlallah.
What was the final outcome of all of that?
... Well here's the frustration of dealing with terrorists. [It] reaches the point where Casey had lunch with Prince Bandar. the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, one of the most powerful figures even today in Washington. And they went for a stroll in the garden and they said, "We have to go off the books." And they agreed that the Saudis would put up the money to hire some professionals to try to car bomb Sheik Fadlallah.
And it was so off the books, there's no evidence that Reagan knew about it or Weinberger or Schultz. It was Casey on his own, saying, "I'm going to solve the big problem by essentially getting tougher or as tough as the terrorists in using their weapon"--the car bomb.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Here is some mild text from one page "Ex-USMC Jock: Available for hourly, overnight, weekend or longer travel - OUT ONLY!"Personal Trainer: Safe-Sane-Strenuous-Satisfying workouts, Sports training, and competition, especially wrestling....Big SPORTS Fan: Will go to the game with you, then take you home and...."AGGRESIVE, VERBAL, DOMINANT TOP. I DON'T LEAVE MARKS....ONLY IMPRESSIONS."
Aravosis’s article contains particulars on what "services" he offered, how much he charged, links to x-rated pictures of him, and Guckert’s non-denials of any of this information.
One part in this story that has yet to surface is related to "Gannon"’s claim in his bio to have "taught in the public school system". Since Guckert’s degree from West Chester University of Pennsylvania is in Physical Education, he presumably was a gym teacher. Many parents will be unhappy that boys’ gym was taught by a gay prostitute that likes to wrestle, even if they can accept a discretely gay English teacher.
The bigger question is how did "Gannon" gain inside access to the White House only five days after Talon News Service was established? Was that long enough to run a background check? Did he have inside help? Did an earlier background check only turn up the problem that it would not look good if he were reporting for GOPUSA?Finally there are the blackmail questions which exist for gays who are not "out of the closet".
Was Guckert blackmailing someone associated with the White House? Was somebody blackmailing Guckert or using Guckert’s services to blackmail someone else?"Gannon" definitely got special treatment from the White House.
So far the White House has denied this, saying anybody in a similar position could get daily press passes. Refusing to acknowledge his special treatment only leads to speculation that blackmail is somehow involved. Link
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders will head there this week in a lobbying blitz to demand more money. And they will go armed with a long list of grievances: Such as California contributing more federal tax dollars than it gets back. Or California getting less homeland security money per person than Wyoming. Or California footing the bill to jail thousands of illegal immigrants. The list goes on.
"Is the governor tough enough to make the Republicans perform for their state?" asked Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). "He's the one who said he would be the 'Collectinator.' " Link
Story aired: Monday, February 14, 2005
Democratic lawmakers are calling for an investigation into how a reporter for a non news website had access to highly classified material outing CIA agent Valerie Plame.Others are continuing to ask about the reporter whose real name is James Guckert, but wrote under the name Jeff Gannon on the Republican backed website Talonnews.com, and always seemed to ask softball partisan questions.
Link too hear interview.
'Gannon' Signs Off: Tells E&P He'll No Longer Talk to Press. Because everything Gannon say's is a LIE!
Guckert, who says he is 47, said he was not planning any specific legal action related to recent events but had contacted an attorney just in case. "It's always good to have an attorney hanging around," he told E&P. "I'm not expecting anything, I am just listening to good advice."The controversial reporter resigned last week from his job with obscure conservative Web site Talon News, which is operated by a Texas Republican activist, after revelations that he had changed his name and allegations that he had set up sexually oriented Web sites.Since his resignation, questions about who should gain access to White House press events have grown, prompting a special meeting for later today between the leadership of the White House Correspondents' Association and Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Link
The question is: Will she get by on what the envelope offers?As in other countries where private accounts have been introduced in various forms, the answer seems to be ambiguous."I felt everything was going to be simple. This is Sweden!," Graveleij said, musing over her understanding of her pension entitlements before and after the changes. "I didn't worry about it before. I felt safe.
I felt everything would be OK. Then, the safety net was gone."Even after poring over the statement of benefits, she said, she was still not sure whether she would be able to afford the $450 monthly rent on her 400-square-foot apartment. "Everything has become very complicated." Link
Mr Jaafari leads the Dawa party, one of two leading religious parties in the bloc that won nearly half the vote. Link
The Puppet of the White House Propaganda Gay Escort Apparently Dabbled in Publishing Anti-Semitism Commentary
BuzzFlash found this column from the Jewish publication, Forward, about a commentary that appeared in 2003 on the main website that Talon services, the obscure GOPUSA.com.
The following is a verbatim excerpt from the Forward:
Conservative Calumny: GOPUSA, a conservative Web site, was criticized all over the blogosphere and at Salon.com last week for publishing, briefly, a column on financier George Soros that many found antisemitic.
Soros recently brought down the ire of conservative commentators by agreeing to spend millions on various Democratic efforts to defeat President Bush.
The GOPUSA columnist, however, trafficked in something way beyond mere commentary, which the site tacitly acknowledged when it pulled the column after a day.
"Satan Lives in George Soros," wrote the pseudonymous columnist, who publishes weekly at the site under the pen name "Sartre."
"The fiction which is interdependency has a prolocutor in the congregation of Moloch. His name is George Soros. No other single person represents the symbol and the substance of Globalism more than this Hungarian-born descendant of Shylock. He is the embodiment of the Merchant from Venice. ... If Soros is correct when he says a 'supremacist ideology' guides the White House, what would you call the practices of the archfiend of Free Enterprise? The Soros deception would make Shylock proud. ... It's not about anti-Semitism! Out-going Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad was just stating the truth."
Democrats went ballistic.
"Suddenly deleting such vile anti-Semitism from this Republican site -- with no explanation, and no apology -- simply won't cut it," the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Ira Forman, said in a press release. "Virulent anti-Semitism causes very real damage, and GOPUSA must acknowledge this."
The editor of GOPUSA, Bobby Eberle, did not respond to calls and an e-mail seeking comment. Link
"I said to him, ‘I believe it’s dishonest,"‘ Barton told the programme. "If we know certain things and we’re asked to provide a report, we should say what we found and what we haven’t found and put that in the report." The ISG was allowed to mention a find of aluminum pipes but were not allowed to mention that their probable intended use was not nuclear. The report was not allowed to mention two trailers held at the ISG camp which the CIA had previously labeled mobile biological weapon laboratories, Barton said. "They were nothing to do with biology," he said. "We believed that they were hydrogen generators." Barton said he quit immediately after the report was completed and stated in his resignation letter that it was because the process was dishonest. Link
And there's a twist.
Acklie named names - including chief fund-raiser Jack Oliver - and committed to writing one of the unwritten rules of politics: Presidents for years have rewarded big donors with plum ambassadorships. "My only interest, if I am going to serve, would be in serving as an ambassador or in a position involving trade," Acklie wrote in a May 2001 "Dear Mike" letter to then-Gov. Johanns. The letter was contained in the official gubernatorial correspondence obtained by The Associated Press under Nebraska's open records law.
"Jack Oliver told me several weeks ago that he was informed that I would not receive one of the eight major ambassadorships but would be receiving an ambassadorship," Acklie wrote.
The owner of Crete Carrier Corp., a major trucking company, even wondered aloud why he hadn't yet landed an ambassadorship when other Republicans who helped elect Bush in 2000 had already gotten theirs.
"Most of the appointments have been made. That is perfectly OK, and if others have done more work for the party, are better qualified or have helped the Bush team more, I certainly understand," Acklie wrote. "I don't understand why I haven't heard a single thing after Jack Oliver's comment to me."
Acklie and Oliver both declined to be interviewed for this story. Link
Ex-Coalition Provisional Authority official Franklin Willis cited examples of this "chaos" at a hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and said he believed most abuse and waste could have been avoided.
Willis showed a picture of himself and other U.S. officials holding up plastic-wrapped 'bricks' of $100 bills worth $2 million to pay security contractor Custer Battles, which the Defense Department has since suspended due to billing issues.
"The Custer Battles case, which while anecdotal, reflects a general pattern of waste and inefficiencies which could have been avoided," said Willis of contracting abuses in Iraq.
"In sum, inexperienced officials, fear of decision-making, lack of communications, minimal security, no banks and lots of money to spread around. This chaos I have referred to as a 'Wild West'," Willis, who was a senior aviation official for the CPA, told the hearing.
Democrats have called for a full congressional hearing on what they say is a pattern of contracting abuses in Iraq, from overcharging by lead contractor Halliburton to poor planning and mismanagement.
Audits last month by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction were particularly scathing over the CPA's handling of more than $20 billion of Iraq's own money and said lack of oversight opened up these funds to corruption. Link
Monday, February 14, 2005
- Payola columnist Armstrong Williams repeated Social Security misinformation in self-syndicated column
- Matthews to new colleague Carlson: "Do you think our network is getting too conservative?"
- CBS Radio's Osgood advanced false claim that FDR favored private Social Security accounts
- Gannon won't give clear answer on whether he's seen classified memo on Wilson-Plame case
- FOX's Lis Wiehl said Hillary Clinton "lied about going to the funerals" of 9-11 victims; O'Reilly agreed
- David Horowitz paid controversial Jesse Helms advisers to advise him
- Wash. Post article 'shortchanged' the truth about African Americans and Social Security
Among the potential changes to the credentialing system:
- tighter restrictions on who can receive daily press passes, such as those Guckert had obtained; and a more active role by the WHCA in approving requests or credentials, which are now handed out solely by the White House Press Office.
"I can see arguments for a more aggressive credentialing process and for the correspondents playing more of a role," said Mark Smith, WHCA vice president and a reporter for Associated Press Radio. "And I can see arguments against it."Smith requested the meeting with Press Secretary Scott McClellan after McClellan mentioned last week during a press briefing that he would be open to discussing the process with White House reporters after the recent concerns surrounding Gannon, who resigned from Talon News last Wednesday. Link
A test of the national missile defense system failed Monday when an interceptor missile did not launch from its island base in the Pacific Ocean, the military said. It was the second failure in months for the experimental program.
A statement from the Missile Defense Agency said the cause of the failure was under investigation.
In Monday's test, the interceptor missile was to target a mock ICBM fired from Kodiak Island, Alaska. The target missile launched at 1:22 a.m. Monday EST without any problems, but the interceptor did not launch. Link
Shows how out of touch the Neo-Cons are when they think a good thing is that the incoming missile works.
"The resulting confusion over numbers has allowed the US administration to claim that it is half-way to meeting the target of training almost 270,000 Iraqi forces, including around 52,000 troops and 135,000 Iraqi policemen. The reality, according to experts, is that there may be as few as 5,000 troops who could be considered combat ready." I liked "attach more US advisers to the fledgling Iraqi units stoke fears that this Vietnam-era policy will further delay any exit from Iraq." Link
Sunday, February 13, 2005
A group of Fortune 500 companies that are defendants in asbestos cases have formed the Asbestos Study Group, which paid annual lobbying fees of more than $10 million in 2003 and 2004. The American Medical Association -- determined to protect doctors in malpractice cases -- has an annual lobbying budget of more than $17 million. The American Insurance Institute spends about $5 million annually, a significant share of which goes to efforts to restrict lawsuits.
A 2003 study by the consumer group Public Citizen, which opposes most of the Republican-backed lawsuit legislation, found that more than 475 lobbyists had been hired by more than 100 trade associations and corporations representing industries that often are defendants in class-action litigation, including tobacco, drugs, automobiles and large retailers.
In addition, many conservative think tanks have joined Cato in supporting Social Security privatization, recognizing that the proposal offers a rare opportunity to restructure a pillar of liberalism and the social welfare state.
The Heritage Foundation, the National Center for Policy Analysis, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and such advocacy groups as the Club for Growth, Progress for America, FreedomWorks, Americans for Tax Reform and the Free Enterprise Fund are now in the middle of the fight.
"Conservatives intend to fix Social Security, welfare and Medicare -- the very programs that liberals created. And we'll do so no matter how often the left yells, 'Stop!' " Edwin J. Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, vowed recently.
Republican strategists see in both Social Security and lawsuit legislation the possibility of strengthening their center-right coalition. Enactment of the latter could also have the effect of weakening the Democratic Party by reducing the income of pro-Democratic trial lawyers, a major source of campaign contributions.
The Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers have set up two umbrella organizations.
One, the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security, will pressure Congress directly, capitalizing on the lobbying staffs and corporate executives of the member companies.
The other, the Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America's Social Security, will conduct a nationwide television and grass-roots pressure campaign costing $15 million to $20 million.
COMPASS has hired OnPoint Advocacy to conduct grass-roots lobbying and Apco Worldwide Inc. for public relations. Tita Freeman, communications director at the Business Roundtable, said COMPASS has a budget of $15 million to $20 million, which may grow as the fight progresses. Link
Grand Ayatollah Ali al- Sistani has never met an American official or soldier. He did not vote in Iraq’s elections last month. And yet this religious recluse could wield more influence over Iraq’s destiny than all the foreign troops and Iraqi politicians put together. The Shia List, which he endorsed, looks certain to be the biggest group in Iraq’s new 275-strong assembly when the election results are announced any day now. It will therefore be the dominant voice in the formation of a new government and the drafting of a new constitution. That means the 74-year-old cleric is likely to play a key role in determining whether Iraq becomes an Islamic state or a secular democracy and whether its rival communities peacefully co-exist or sink into sectarian conflict.
Anyone doubting Ayatollah al-Sistani’s influence should consider the key events of the past year. The huge Shia turnout in January’s election was the result of his simple fatwa instructing the faithful that voting was a religious duty. That the elections were held at all was largely due to him. When the US-led coalition proposed a transfer of power without letting the people cast their ballots, a single edict from Ayatollah al-Sistani brought hundreds of thousands of Shia protesters on to the streets until the Americans backed down. more
The White House has embarked on a mission to convince the people of our country that Social Security is in dire need of drastic change in order to save it for all workers.
In order to convince the American people of the urgency to privatize Social Security, the president has used words such as “crisis,” “bankruptcy,” and “collapse.”
Let’s look at the definition of these three words, according to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.
- Crisis: “a situation that has reached a critical phase.”
- Bankruptcy: “utter failure or impoverishment.”
- Collapse: “to break down completely.”
Is it true that Social Security is in crisis? Is bankrupt? Is collapsing?
The answer is a resounding NO. According to the most conservative estimates, Social Security will be able to pay full benefits for 38 years. In other words, a 37-year-old worker today will get full benefits until he or she is 75 years old if we do nothing to make adjustments to the Trust Fund. A 47-year old worker today will get full benefits until he or she is 85 years old if nothing is done.
So clearly, Social Security is not in crisis, is not bankrupt, and is not collapsing.
Yes, there is a challenge we should address.
Have we ever faced a similar Social Security challenge before? Yes. During the Reagan presidency in 1983. Working together, Democrats and Republicans, we resolved the challenge then just as we can do now. So why would an otherwise optimistic George Bush turn into a prophet of pessimism on Social Security?
Because, his initiative is not about meeting the challenges of Social Security to keep it sound; it is not about bringing together Democrats and Republicans as Ronald Reagan did to ensure that full benefits will be there for all Americans. It is about one thing and one thing only: destroying Social Security. Cont.
In what can only be described as journalistic malfeasance, the controversial Kurtz came to the defense of the mysterious right-wing pseudo-journalist, claiming that bloggers had wrongly dug into his personal life. Kurtz went on to opine that any journalist could get a day pass to the White House and ask the President a question. In short, Kurtz made Gannon (aka James Guckert) out to be the victim of some sort of liberal witch hunt.
Following the Gannon story, anyone with half a brain cell realizes that Kurtz's comments are simply damage control bullet points from or for the White House. The blogging world did what the lackey mainstream press will no longer do, expose a story that is at the epicenter of the deceit and propaganda media campaign central to how the Bush Cartel continues to control America. The Gannon story touches upon everything from manufactured news to manufactured "reporters" to the Valerie Plame affair to websites that have a connection to the White House, but appear independent, to a Bush Cartel hypocrisy about gays, to payola, to scripted Bush news conferences, to who knows what. This is a BIG media story that should be on the cover of the New York Times and Post.
But it isn't, of course. They know what their marching orders are. Cont.
The alliance of Kurdish parties was in second place with about 26%, while the party of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was third with about 14%.
There is now a three day period for complaints to be lodged. If none are upheld, the results become official.
The Iraqi election commission said turnout was about 58%, but much of the Sunni minority did not take part.
A coalition of religious Shia Muslim candidates, assembled by the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, won more than 48% of the vote. Link
This week, several reporters (including myself) were given previously secret documents that clearly show the "Clear Skies Act," (which is supposed to regulate industries that pollute the air) was written by lobbyists representing those very same polluting industries. The documents show that two years ago, eight power plant companies reviewed the administration's first draft and submitted a list of "essential changes."
The administration complied... and all of the changes are part of the new legislation.The issue is significant because the National Academy of Sciences is reporting that if the "Clear Skies Act" passes in its current form, it would lead to more air pollution being pumped into the air than is allowed under current laws. Link
Saturday, February 12, 2005
UK calls for new US inquiry, saying that allegations made by former Guantanamo detainee are 'Credible'
The Foreign Office believes that Mr Begg, a former bookseller from Birmingham, has made "credible" allegations that he was severely ill treated by US intelligence officers at Bagram air base in Afghanistan three years ago. A source said: "There is genuine concern about the allegations which have been made.
We want a proper investigation."It has also emerged that ministers have complained in private to the US and Iraqi authorities about alleged abuses of Iraqi civilians and prisoners, after highly critical Red Cross reports and the scandal over sexual assaults at Abu Ghraib prison came to light. Link
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Email "The Cyborg", no mailing address needed:
The National Alliance, which calls for ridding the land of minorities, has led the drive to raise the profile of white supremacists.The local chapter spent $1,500 on MetroLink ads here in St. Louis last month, plastering nearly every commuter train car in the city with a blue-and-white placard declaring "The Future belongs to us!" and listing the group's website and phone number. The same chapter bought airtime on local talk radio last fall, urging whites to unite and fight for the survival of "white America.
""We want to use mainstream advertising to say to the public: We're not a shadowy group. This is what we believe in, and we're proud of it," said chapter leader Aaron Collins. "We're trying to give people courage. We want to show them, if you stand up for what you believe in, you're not going to be crucified." Cont.
With the new "privatization tax," the Republicans are going to give with one hand and take away with the other. Their plan will allow individuals to take money from the Social Security Trust Fund and put it into private accounts. But to recoup this money and lost interest for the Trust Fund, the Republicans will issue the new privatization tax, which will eliminate benefits by up to 70 percent or more.
"The notion of private accounts in Social Security mentioned by the President as part of a reform package is not all that it seems," Baucus said. "At the same time that the private accounts are adding to retirees' income, much, if not of all of this additional income is being offset dollar for dollar through reductions in their Social Security benefits. Moreover, if the investments in retirees' private accounts do poorly, the retirees' could end up worse off financially than they would have without the private accounts at all."
While the President and Republicans would lead the American people to believe that private accounts will earn significant benefits beyond what could be earned in the traditional system, the Democratic Senators said today it is simply not true thanks to this hidden tax.
Durbin said, "We believe America must honor its promise to those who have worked hard, played by the rules, and earned the right to a secure retirement that cannot be taken away. Having to give up part of your retirement benefit to pay for the transition to a privatized system is not living up to our promise. We do not support proposals to reduce Social Security that would result in deep benefit cuts."
At retirement, workers with private accounts would be subject to a reduction in their Social Security benefits equivalent to the amount that would be in their account if the payroll taxes diverted had earned interest at the same rate as the rate paid on Treasury bonds.
Schumer said, " I want to make sure I am being clear about this, so every New Yorker and every American understands what I'm saying -- no big numbers, no percentages, no fancy talk. The President has two big priorities, Social Security and tax cuts, and both conveniently take effect after he leaves office. These budget gimmicks insult the intelligence of the American people"
Examples of how the privatization tax will work:
- If an individual's account earns the average rate of return (4.6 percent above inflation), they are still going to have to give back 70 percent of the account.
- If an individual's account earns 3 percent above inflation, which is the risk-adjusted rate of return assumed by CBO, they would have to give back your entire earnings.
"The promise of 'ownership' under the President's privatization plan is an empty one," said Corzine. "In fact, under the administration's proposal, the government would effectively lend you money and then ask you to pay it back with interest. That's not ownership and it sure doesn't sound like much of a nest egg to me. The president's proposal to cut guaranteed benefits in favor of individual bets on the market strikes at the very core of Social Security's promise - that it's a rock solid guarantee which will be there when you need it the most. Those who disagree with Social Security's promise have a right to call for the program's repeal. But they shouldn't pretend that privatization promises security for America's seniors. It doesn't."
Explanation of the Benefit Offset or "Privatization Tax"
In his State of the Union Address, President Bush outlined some of the details of the private accounts he is proposing, but did not mention a critical fact about those accounts — individuals who chose to have a private accounts also would get a large, automatic reduction in their Social Security benefit at retirement. The amount of the reduction would equal a large portion of the amount in their private accounts.
A senior Administration official admitted this point in his background briefing on February 2:
"…in return for the opportunity to get the benefits from the personal account, the person foregoes a certain amount of benefits from the traditional system. Now, the way that election is structured, the person comes out ahead if their personal account exceeds a 3 percent real rate of return, which is the rate of return that the trust fund bonds receive. So, basically, the net effect on an individual's benefits would be zero if his personal account earned a 3 percent real rate of return." 1
According to the Congressional Budget Office the private accounts are, in fact, expected to produce a risk-adjusted rate of return of 3% above the inflation rate. Therefore, the automatic reduction of Social Security benefits would equal the entire value of the private accounts1. In effect, the automatic benefit reduction would constitute a 100 percent tax on the retirement savings in those accounts. This tax is the "privatization tax" that workers must pay at retirement.
How the Private Accounts Would Work
When fully phased in, workers who chose to participate in the private accounts would have 4 percent of their wages diverted into the accounts. At retirement, workers with private accounts would be subject to a reduction in their Social Security benefits equivalent to the amount that would be in their account if the payroll taxes diverted to the account had earned interest at the same rate as the rate paid on Treasury bonds.
If a worker earned the average rate of return assumed by the Administration (4.6 percent above inflation on a mixed stock-bond portfolio), the privatization tax would recapture an amount equal to 70 percent of the account. 1 If a worker earned a 3 percent rate of return, after inflation, the privatization tax would recapture an amount equal to 100 percent of his account. 1 If a worker earned only a 1.5 percent rate of return, the privatization tax would still be based on a 3 percent rate of return. That is, the reduction in the worker's Social Security benefit would exceed the amount in the worker's private account, producing an effective tax rate of 139 percent. The worker would have less combined income (from the private account plus the Social Security) than if the worker had not chosen to have an account. 1 CPBB, "How the Individual Accounts in the President's New Plan Would Work", Senate Finance Committee, Democratic Staff -- February 8, 2005
In hearings, speeches and interviews, Democrats said the sharply higher Medicare cost estimate is a matter of credibility, not bookkeeping quibbles, and they wielded it as a new weapon in their bid to prevent President Bush from converting a portion of Social Security payroll taxes to personal accounts. Some House and Senate Democrats called for a congressional investigation into the hard-fought 2003 Medicare prescription drug battle, in which an administration official said he was pressured to keep long-term cost estimates hidden from lawmakers.