Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.

-John Stuart Mill

Embargoed: State of the Union Text »

We’ll start respecting White House embargoes when they start telling the truth.

Embargoed Until Delivery of the State of the Union Address at 9:01 PM EST
January 31, 2006


As Prepared For Delivery

Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, Members of the Supreme Court and diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Today our Nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken from her so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King.


For info on events in your area go to World Can't Wait.

Coretta Scott King, 78, Widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dies

Coretta Scott King, known first as the wife of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr then as his widow, then as an avid proselytizer for his vision of racial peace and nonviolent social change, died early today at Santa Monica Hospital, in Baja California, Mexico, near San Diego. She was 78. Mrs. King was admitted to the hospital last Thursday, said her sister, Edythe Scott Bagley. She died about 1 a.m., said Lorena Blanco, a spokeswoman for the United States consulate in Tijuana.


State of Illusion

Pity the poor presidential speechwriter. Each year, as a cold gray sky lowers over the White House, the State of the Union address also looms. Once, a captive television audience could be taken for granted, but now, when cable makes it possible to eschew the pre-empted networks for reruns of "CSI," it's hard to say if there will even be warm bodies in the cheap seats at home. And there is that pesky introductory sentence, the one that traditionally goes something like this:"My fellow Americans, the state of the Union is ... "

Confident. Strong. Stronger than ever.

Dire. Disturbing. Disastrous.

Those last three are the ones the speechwriter will never use. But at the moment they're far closer to the truth.

Let's begin with the war in Iraq. Some complain it was poorly planned. The truth is that it wasn't planned at all. Now that Saddam Hussein is gone, it's hard to understand how an additional year or two of casualties will make a difference in the outcome for the average Iraqi. There's been a flurry of recent rhetoric about a schedule, an endgame, an exit strategy. Some members of Congress and even some in the administration figured out that was necessary; the polls told them so. The result is that sometime in the foreseeable future the war in Iraq will end, not with a bang but with a whimper, having created an entire new generation of terrorists galvanized by an incursion not even its creators can deconstruct convincingly.


In Alito, G.O.P. Reaps Harvest Planted in '82

(Sen Kennedy read this article from the floor of the Senate -- STILL only 25 Dems voted for the Filibuster. I am still flabbergasted over that fact. Numb even. I'm not clear at this time what the minority party stands for - if anything. eaprez)

From the NY Times, 1/30/06
David Kirkpatrick

Last February, as rumors swirled about the failing health of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, a team of conservative grass-roots organizers, public relations specialists and legal strategists met to prepare a battle plan to ensure any vacancies were filled by like-minded jurists.

The team recruited conservative lawyers to study the records of 18 potential nominees — including Judges John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — and trained more than three dozen lawyers across the country to respond to news reports on the president's eventual pick.

"We boxed them in," one lawyer present during the strategy meetings said with pride in an interview over the weekend. This lawyer and others present who described the meeting were granted anonymity because the meetings were confidential and because the team had told its allies not to exult publicly until the confirmation vote was cast.

Now, on the eve of what is expected to be the Senate confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court, coming four months after Chief Justice Roberts was installed, those planners stand on the brink of a watershed for the conservative movement.

In 1982, the year after Mr. Alito first joined the Reagan administration, that movement was little more than the handful of legal scholars who gathered at Yale for the first meeting of the Federalist Society, a newly formed conservative legal group.

Judge Alito's ascent to join Chief Justice Roberts on the court "would have been beyond our best expectations," said Spencer Abraham, one of the society's founders, a former secretary of energy under President Bush and now the chairman of the Committee for Justice, one of many conservative organizations set up to support judicial nominees.

He added, "I don't think we would have put a lot of money on it in a friendly wager."

Judge Alito's confirmation is also the culmination of a disciplined campaign begun by the Reagan administration to seed the lower federal judiciary with like-minded jurists who could reorient the federal courts toward a view of the Constitution much closer to its 18th-century authors' intent, including a much less expansive view of its application to individual rights and federal power. It was a philosophy promulgated by Edwin Meese III, attorney general in the Reagan administration, that became the gospel of the Federalist Society and the nascent conservative legal movement.

Both Mr. Roberts and Mr. Alito were among the cadre of young conservative lawyers attracted to the Reagan administration's Justice Department. And both advanced to the pool of promising young jurists whom strategists like C. Boyden Gray, White House counsel in the first Bush administration and an adviser to the current White House, sought to place throughout the federal judiciary to groom for the highest court.

"It is a Reagan personnel officer's dream come true," said Douglas W. Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University who worked with Mr. Alito and Mr. Roberts in the Reagan administration. "It is a graduation. These individuals have been in study and preparation for these roles all their professional lives."

As each progressed in legal stature, others were laying the infrastructure of the movement. After the 1987 defeat of the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Robert H. Bork conservatives vowed to build a counterweight to the liberal forces that had mobilized to stop him.

With grants from major conservative donors like the John M. Olin Foundation, the Federalist Society functioned as a kind of shadow conservative bar association, planting chapters in law schools around the country that served as a pipeline to prestigious judicial clerkships.

During their narrow and politically costly victory in the 1991 confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas, the Federalist Society lawyers forged new ties with the increasingly sophisticated network of grass-roots conservative Christian groups like Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs and the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss. Many conservative Christian pastors and broadcasters had railed for decades against Supreme Court decisions that outlawed school prayer and endorsed abortion rights.

During the Clinton administration, Federalist Society members and allies had come to dominate the membership and staff of the Judiciary Committee, which turned back many of the administration's nominees. "There was a Republican majority of the Senate, and it tempered the nature of the nominations being made," said Mr. Abraham, the Federalist Society founder who was a senator on the Judiciary Committee at the time.

By 2000, the decades of organizing and battles had fueled a deep demand in the Republican base for change on the court. Mr. Bush tapped into that demand by promising to name jurists in the mold of conservative Justices Thomas and Scalia.

When Mr. Bush named Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, as the successor to Justice O'Connor, he faced a revolt from his conservative base, which complained about her dearth of qualifications and ideological bona fides.

"It was a striking example of the grass roots having strong opinions that ran counter to the party leaders about what was attainable," said Stephen G. Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern University and another founding member of the Federalist Society.

But in October, when President Bush withdrew Ms. Miers's nomination and named Judge Alito, the same network quickly mobilized behind him.

Conservatives had begun planning for a nomination fight as long ago as that February meeting, which was led by Leonard A. Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society and informal adviser to the White House, Mr. Meese and Mr. Gray.

They laid out a two-part strategy to roll out behind whomever the president picked, people present said. The plan: first, extol the nonpartisan legal credentials of the nominee, steering the debate away from the nominee's possible influence over hot-button issues. Second, attack the liberal groups they expected to oppose any Bush nominee.

The team worked through a newly formed group, the Judicial Confirmation Network, to coordinate grass-roots pressure on Democratic senators from conservative states. And they stayed in constant contact with scores of conservative groups around the country to brief them about potential nominees and to make sure they all stuck to the same message. They fine-tuned their strategy for Judge Alito when he was nominated in October by recruiting Italian-American groups to protest the use of the nickname "Scalito," which would have linked him to the conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

In November, some Democrats believed they had a chance to defeat the nomination after the disclosure of a 1985 memorandum Judge Alito wrote in the Reagan administration about his conservative legal views on abortion, affirmative action and other subjects.

"It was a done deal," one of the Democratic staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the staff is forbidden to talk publicly about internal meetings. "This was the most evidence we have ever had about a Supreme Court nominee's true beliefs."

Mr. Leo and other lawyers supporting Judge Alito were inclined to shrug off the memorandum, which described views that were typical in their circles, people involved in the effort said. But executives at Creative Response Concepts, the team's public relations firm, quickly convinced them it was "a big deal" that could become the centerpiece of the Democrats' attacks, one of the people said.

"The call came in right away," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice and another lawyer on the Alito team.

Responding to Mr. Alito's 1985 statement that he disagreed strongly with the abortion-rights precedents, for example, "The answer was, 'Of course he was opposed to abortion,' " Mr. Sekulow said. "He worked for the Reagan administration, he was a lawyer representing a client, and it may well have reflected his personal beliefs. But look what he has done as judge."

His supporters deluged news organizations with phone calls, press releases and lawyers to interview, all noting that on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Judge Alito had voted to uphold and to strike down abortion restrictions.

Democrats contended that those arguments were irrelevant because on the lower court Judge Alito was bound by Supreme Court precedent, whereas as a justice he could vote to overturn any precedents with which he disagreed.

By last week it was clear that the judge had enough votes to win confirmation. And the last gasp of resistance came in a Democratic caucus meeting on Wednesday when Senator Edward M. Kennedy, joined by Senator John Kerry, both of Massachusetts, unsuccessfully tried to persuade the party to organize a filibuster.

No one defended Judge Alito or argued that he did not warrant opposition, Mr. Kennedy said in an interview. Instead, opponents of the filibuster argued about the political cost of being accused of obstructionism by conservatives.

Still, on the brink of this victory, some in the conservative movement say the battle over the court has just begun. Justice O'Connor was the swing vote on many issues, but replacing her with a more dependable conservative would bring that faction of the court at most to four justices, not five, and thus not enough to truly reshape the court or overturn precedents like those upholding abortion rights.

"It has been a long time coming," Judge Bork said, "but more needs to be done."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen.

-Mort Sahl

Randi Rhodes on TV

This Monday (1/30) at 9pm ET Randi Rhodes (from Air America) makes her first appearance on Larry King Live! She'll be part of a panel discussing Alito, the State of the Union, etc.

Number of neighborhoods in Pennsylvania where the air is “the most unhealthy” due to industrial air pollution, the highest of any state:


Source: Associated Press, 12/13/05

NY Times Editorial: Spies, Lies & Wiretaps

A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.

The first was that the domestic spying program is carefully aimed only at people who are actively working with Al Qaeda, when actually it has violated the rights of countless innocent Americans. And the second was that the Bush team could have prevented the 9/11 attacks if only they had thought of eavesdropping without a warrant.

Sept. 11 could have been prevented. This is breathtakingly cynical. The nation's guardians did not miss the 9/11 plot because it takes a few hours to get a warrant to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mail messages. They missed the plot because they were not looking. The same officials who now say 9/11 could have been prevented said at the time that no one could possibly have foreseen the attacks. We keep hoping that Mr. Bush will finally lay down the bloody banner of 9/11, but Karl Rove, who emerged from hiding recently to talk about domestic spying, made it clear that will not happen — because the White House thinks it can make Democrats look as though they do not want to defend America. "President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why," he told Republican officials. "Some important Democrats clearly disagree."

Mr. Rove knows perfectly well that no Democrat has ever said any such thing — and that nothing prevented American intelligence from listening to a call from Al Qaeda to the United States, or a call from the United States to Al Qaeda, before Sept. 11, 2001, or since. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act simply required the government to obey the Constitution in doing so. And FISA was amended after 9/11 to make the job much easier.


Al-Zawahri Mocks Bush Over Terrorism War

In a new video aired Monday, Al-Qaida's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri mocked President Bush as a "failure" in the war on terror, called him a "butcher" for killing innocent Pakistanis in a miscarried airstrike and chastised the United States for not accepting Osama bin Laden's offer of a truce.


Kidnapped Journalist Appears in New Video

Al-Jazeera aired a new videotape Monday of kidnapped U.S. journalist Jill Carroll, showing her wearing a veil and weeping. The video had no sound, but the station said she appealed for the release of women Iraqi prisoners.


Army Forces 50,000 Soldiers into Extended Duty

The U.S. Army has forced about 50,000 soldiers to continue serving after their voluntary stints ended under a policy called "stop-loss," but while some dispute its fairness, court challenges have fallen flat.


(Hmmmmmm now I could have sworn Bush said in his press conference last week that retention was high, recruitment was meeting its goals. This flies in the face of that. Liar. eaprez)

Military Hides Cause of Women Soldiers' Deaths

In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq.

Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.


Progressive Talking Points 1/30/06

The Truth about Health Savings Accounts

January 30, 2006

According to news reports, President Bush will devote a significant portion of his State of the Union address to talking about “health savings accounts (HSAs) as a solution to America's health care crisis.” In general, HSAs are tax-free savings accounts combined with high deductible insurance policies that people obtain through their employers or buy independently from insurance companies. Numerous studies have shown that HSAs may increase the number of uninsured and increase health care costs, all while costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. It sounds like Bush is trying to do to health care what he did to Social Security – placing the burden on ordinary Americans while expecting them to take on the billion-dollar health industry. As such, it is another special interest policy that allows profits and health costs to continue to rise.

  • HSAs will do nothing to address the increasing number of uninsured Americans. HSAs will not help expand coverage among the uninsured because most uninsured Americans do not make enough money to benefit from tax breaks. HSAs would also encourage employers to either drop health insurance or reduce their contribution amounts. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the number of people who would lose their coverage because of HSAs would be higher than the number of uninsured who would get insurance.

  • HSA users will be more likely to skip necessary treatments to avoid the high costs. Individuals who have either consumer-driven or high deductible plans (both are elements of HSAs) were more likely to avoid getting necessary health care because of costs. Users with high deductible plans were also more likely than those with traditional coverage to have problems paying their medical bills.

  • HSAs have failed to work in other countries. South Africa and Singapore both implemented versions of health savings accounts, and Americans should learn the pitfalls from these systems. The Harvard School of Public Health found that the Singapore plan "caused financial hardship for Singapore's citizens and ... adversely affected the cost-effectiveness of its health care system." In South Africa, "the cost of specialty care has increased 43 percent, the cost of hospital care is up 65 percent,” and uninsured rates have "continued to grow rapidly."

  • HSAs will do little to control rising health care costs. Approximately 70 percent of costs in the U.S. health care system are spent on 10 percent of the population – the most expensive patients with the most catastrophic and complex needs. The costs these individuals incur well exceed health insurance deductibles, even for high deductible health plans, and high deductibles won't change their health spending patterns. By their very nature, HSAs are trying to control health care costs by changing care-seeking behavior for people whose health care spending represents a small proportion of overall health care costs.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

We are different from previous generations of conservatives. We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country.

-Paul Weyrich

Impeach or Indict Bush and Cheney

The Constitution is silent on whether a seated President and Vice President can be indicted, while in office, for crimes committed while they have held those offices. Constitutional lawyers are congenitally prone to announcing that this cannot be done because it would disrupt the ongoing business of the government. But it is time to do it, if necessary absent impeachment, for exactly that reason - to disrupt the continuation of THIS government.


Number of Americans who received food stamps in 2004, an increase of more than 8 million since 2000:

25.5 million

Source: Wall Street Journal, 12/5/05

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills. [on causes of the Columbine High School massacre, 1999]

-Tom DeLay

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.


Hunger strikers close to death

DESPITE force feeding by the American military, several hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay may be close to death, according to lawyers acting for the detainees.


52% Say Bush Presidency Is a Failure, Poll Finds

A majority of Americans said the presidency of George W. Bush has been a failure and that they would be more likely to vote for congressional candidates who oppose him, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Fifty-two percent of adults said Bush's administration since 2001 has been a failure, down from 55 percent in October. Fifty- eight percent described his second term as a failure. At the same point in former President Bill Clinton's presidency, 70 percent of those surveyed by Gallup said they considered it a success and 20 percent a failure.


76% of all Americans Believe White House Should Release Abramoff Records

A strong bipartisan majority of the public believes President Bush should disclose all contacts between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and White House staffers despite administration claims that media requests for details about those contacts amount to a "fishing expedition," according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that three in four--76 percent--of all Americans said Bush should disclose contacts between aides and Abramoff while 18 percent disagreed. Two in three Republicans joined with eight in 10 Democrats and political independents in favoring disclosure, according to the poll.


New Poll Finds Mixed Support for Wiretaps

Americans are willing to tolerate eavesdropping without warrants to fight terrorism, but are concerned that the aggressive antiterrorism programs championed by the Bush administration are encroaching on civil liberties, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
The results suggest that Americans' view of the program depends in large part on whether they perceive it as a bulwark in the fight against terrorism, as Mr. Bush has sought to cast it, or as an unnecessary and unwarranted infringement on civil liberties, as critics have said.


Bush Support Weak as Americans Favor New Direction, Poll Finds

President George W. Bush will address a nation next week that has soured on the direction of the country and his leadership on issues ranging from health care to the economy to Iraq.

A Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll taken this week as Bush prepares to deliver his annual State of the Union speech shows that the president wins the approval of only 43 percent of the public, a 7-point drop from a year ago. Three out of five say America is seriously off course, and by 62 to 31 percent those surveyed want to move in a different direction than the one Bush has set forth.

The president has lost public support across a broad swath of issues, including most of the ones that especially concern Americans, as well as on matters of personal trust and leadership, according to the survey.


Prosecutor Will Step Down From Lobbyist Case

(Now this really stinks! eaprez)

The investigation of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican lobbyist, took a surprising new turn on Thursday when the Justice Department said the chief prosecutor in the inquiry would step down next week because he had been nominated to a federal judgeship by President Bush.

The prosecutor, Noel L. Hillman, is chief of the department's public integrity division, and the move ends his involvement in an inquiry that has reached into the administration as well as the top ranks of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.

The administration said that the appointment was routine and that it would not affect the investigation, but Democrats swiftly questioned the timing of the move and called for a special prosecutor.

The announcement came as Mr. Bush faced a barrage of questions about why he would not make public "grip-and-grin" photographs of him with Mr. Abramoff. The photographs apparently show Mr. Bush and Mr. Abramoff smiling at White House Hanukkah parties and Republican fund-raising receptions.


Mr. Abramoff's Meetings, Again

IF A TYPICAL picture is worth a thousand words, a picture of President Bush with Jack Abramoff, we suppose, might be worth about 10,000. And so we understand the desire of our more visually inclined colleagues to obtain photos of the president and the criminal. But the focus on the photos distracts from a more important question that the president managed to duck in his news conference Thursday: Who in the White House and administration met with Mr. Abramoff, and what were those meetings about?


Friday, January 27, 2006

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.

- Harry S. Truman

Filibuster Friday Update

Senate Democrats refuse to signal whether or not they will filibuster Alito. They appear to have 41 votes, since Ben Nelson (D-NE) is the only one of 44 Democrats who supports Alito. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) should oppose Alito, and 5 Republicans - Lamar Alexander (TN), Lincoln Chafee (RI) Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), and Ted Stevens (AK) - are undecided.

We've called and called, but we need to call our Senators again and DEMAND A FILIBUSTER: TOLL FREE - 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641

For extra credit, use the same numbers to call all the 2008 Presidential candidates who are sitting Senators - Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, and John Kerry - and tell them to either LEAD THE FILIBUSTER or FORGET ABOUT YOUR SUPPORT. You can also send that message to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (202-224-2447) and the Democratic National Committee (202-863-8000).

John Kerry Calls For Filibuster of Alito

(It aint over folks. They're doing what we have asked them to do - time to do our part. Pick your chins up off the floor and get on the phones. Rumor has it that there is at least one Republican who is going to vote against Alito. You need to get on your phones and call the moderate Republicans and the Dems in the yes column. Tell them to filibuster Alito! Don't be one of those who whines and complains day in and day out but is too lazy to take an active part to make a difference. If thats who/what you are, I don't know why you waste your time reading the blogs. Now, push your chair away from that computer, get off your ass and start making some phone calls. Don't know who or where to call? Not a good enough excuse - see the post directly below this one which contains specific instructions on who to call and the numbers. When you're done, call your friends and family and tell them to call as well. Now, get busy! eaprez)

Sen. John Kerry will attempt a filibuster to block the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, CNN has learned.

Kerry, in Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum, was marshaling support in phone calls during the day, he told CNN.

Kerry said he told a group of Democratic senators Wednesday, and urged that they join him. Kerry said he has the support of fellow Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Some senior Democrats told CNN they are worried that the move could backfire.

Republicans would need 60 votes to overturn a filibuster - a procedural move that extends Senate debate indefinitely, effectively blocking a vote. Senior White House officials said the move would make the Democrats look bad, and that Republicans believe they have enough votes to overcome any filibuster attempt.

Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, scheduled a vote to end debate on the nomination - called a cloture vote - Monday at 4:30 p.m. If that vote is successful, the final vote would be Tuesday morning.


Kerry is filibustering Alito! Call Senators Immediately!
Call the Senators listed below, as well as your own, and tell them:

* a "No" vote is meaningless without a filibuster

* it is cowardly to only fight a fight when assured victory

* the American people need to see the Senate standing up for separation of powers and against the "Unitary Executive"

Use these toll free numbers to call the Capitol: 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641. If you can't get through, look up the Senator's District Office number in your phone book or here: http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/dbq/officials/?lvl=C

First: Call the three Democrats (Mary Landrieu, Ken Salazar, and Dianne Feinstein) who oppose Alito but also said they oppose a filibuster. We must persuade them that a vote against Alito is meaningless if they don't support a filibuster. Senator Salazar (D-CO) 202-224-5852 Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) 202-224-5824 Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 202-224-3841

Second: Call your own Democratic Senator: 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641. If you can't get through, look up the Senator's District Office number in your phone book or here: http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/dbq/officials/?lvl=C

Third: Unbelievably, three Democrats (Ben Nelson, Tim Johnson and Robert Byrd) support Alito! Tell them to either support filibuster or at least "don't get in the way." Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) 202-224-6551 Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) 202-224-3954 Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) 202-224-5842
888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641. If you can't get through, look up the Senator's District Office number in your phone book or here: http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/dbq/officials/?lvl=C

Fourth: Call the "Red State" Democrats: (Message same as above -- "No" is meaningless) Tom Carper (DE)
Kent Conrad (ND)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Blanche Lincoln (AR) Mark Pryor (AR)

Fifth: Call these "Blue State" and pro-choice Republicans: (Message: A "Unitary Executive" is dangerous to balance of powers--please do not get in the way of a filibuster.) Lincoln Chafee (RI)
Susan Collins (ME)
Lisa Murkowsky (AK)
Bob Smith (OR)
Olympia Snowe (ME)
Ted Stevens (AK)

For extra credit, call all of the 2008 Presidential candidates who are sitting Senators--Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold, and John Kerry--and tell them to either LEAD THE FILIBUSTER or KISS YOUR SUPPORT GOODBYE. 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641. If you can't get through, look up the Senator's District Office number in your phone book or here: http://capwiz.com/pdamerica/dbq/officials/?lvl=C

You can also send that message to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (202-224-2447) and the Democratic National Committee (202-863-8000).

Bush Reasserts Presidential Prerogatives

President Bush set limits yesterday on White House cooperation in three political disputes, saying he is determined to assert presidential prerogatives on such matters as domestic eavesdropping and congressional inquiries into Hurricane Katrina.

In a mid-morning news conference, Bush told reporters he is skeptical of a proposed law imposing new oversights on his use of the National Security Agency to listen in on electronic communications. He also said that he will block White House aides from testifying about the slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and that he will not release official White House photos of himself with former Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Facing repeated questions, Bush distanced himself from Abramoff, who is at the center of the biggest political corruption and bribery scandal in a generation. Bush said he does not recall having his picture taken with Abramoff or ever meeting him. Abramoff was a member of the exclusive club of Bush's $100,000 fundraisers known as Pioneers.

"Having my picture taken with someone doesn't mean that I'm a friend with him or know him very well," Bush told reporters.


Number of U.S. convicts who have been exonerated based on DNA testing since 1989:


Source: New York Times, 11/23/05

Progressive Talking Points 1/27/06

State of National Security

National Security is sure to figure greatly into the President’s State of the Union speech next week, in which he will no doubt take credit for successes in Iraq and on the national security front. However, the fact is, four years after 9/11, the administration has failed to adequately protect the homeland, Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, al Qaeda is expanding globally, violence rages in Iraq and the America military is stretched to the breaking point.

  • Our homeland is still not secure. Almost two years after the 9/11 Commission gave its report on the state of our nation’s security and steps that needed to be taken, the administration received failing grades from the Public Discourse Project. Thomas H. Kean, former chair of the 9/11 Commission, said that homeland security is "not a priority for the government right now.” Only 6 percent of national security spending is devoted to homeland security, and as Hurricane Katrina showed us, first responders still lack the crucial communications apparatus they need to operate during an emergency.

  • The United States Army is stretched thin. 2005 marked the first year the Army missed its recruiting goal since 1999, and the third year the Army National Guard has fallen short. Despite President Bush’s promises to fully support our military, his policies have strained the all-volunteer military, turning the Army into a "'thin green line' that could snap unless relief comes soon," according to a recent Pentagon report. Furthermore, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are dying and being injured because they lack the body armor they need.

  • The administration does not have a strategy for success in Iraq. The administration’s Iraq policy is failing on many fronts. More than 500 Iraqis have died since the December 15 elections, and since the invasion began in March 2003, 2,239 U.S. troops have died and 16,420 have been injured. Iraqis are suffering economically, too – a new study shows that one-fifth of the Iraqi population lives in poverty, up since the 2003 invasion. Political upheaval is also reaching a boiling point, with the Shiites threatening to unite with the Kurds and exclude Sunnis from political power, which would be a disaster for Iraq and a serious blow to any effort to build a sustainable democracy. As the New York Times reports, “[l]eaving [the Sunnis] out of the government could very well prompt them to turn away from democratic politics again, and give the insurgency a fresh shot of energy."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world's ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.

-John W. Gardner

Sign the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime

Your government, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in their sights.

Your government is openly torturing people, and justifying it.

Your government puts people in jail on the merest suspicion, refusing them lawyers, and either holding them indefinitely or deporting them in the dead of night.

Your government is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule.

Your government suppresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price.

Your government is moving to deny women here, and all over the world, the right to birth control and abortion.

Your government enforces a culture of greed, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.

Go here to take the pledge and find out more.

Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties
as confirmed by U.S. Central Command:

Most recent casualties

January 24, 2006
Marine Sgt. Sean H. Miles, 28, of Midlothian, Va.

January 23, 2006
Army Pfc. Peter D. Wagler, 18, of Partridge, Kan.
Army Staff Sgt. Lance M. Chase,
32, of Oklahoma City, Okla
Army Sgt. Matthew D. Hunter,
31, of Valley Grove, W.Va.
Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua A. Scott
, 24, of Tunnel Hill, Ga.
Marine Pvt. Lewis T.D. Calapini
, 21, of Waipahu, Hawaii

January 22, 2006
Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian McElroy
, 28, of San Antonio
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jason L. Norton, 32, of Miami, Okla.

January 20, 2006

Army Spc. Clifton J. Yazzie, 23, of Fruitland, N.M.

Army Spc. Matthew C. Frantz, 23, of Lafayette, Ind.
Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Dewey, 20, of San Joaquin, Calif.
Marine Cpl. Carlos Arrelano-Pandura, 22, of Los Angeles
Army Sgt. Dennis J. Flanagan
, 22, of Inverness, Fla.
Army Staff Sgt. Rickey Scott
, 30, of Columbus, Ga.

Complete Casualty List

New PAC to Back Antiwar Veterans

An organization of veterans disillusioned with President Bush's handling of the Iraq war plans to launch a political action committee today dedicated to electing antiwar veterans to Congress.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America PAC hopes to raise as much as $10 million this year to support veterans seeking House and Senate seats on platforms promoting a change of strategy in Iraq, said Jon Soltz, the group's executive director.

"These are people we want to send to Washington to articulate a better understanding of the war," said Soltz, who served as an Army captain with the 1st Armored Division in Iraq. "We need credible knowledge inside Washington to change the course of this war."

So far, eight Iraq war veterans are seeking House seats as Democrats in various states, including Illinois, Pennsylvania and Maryland.


Rumsfeld: Army Not 'Broken'

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday strongly rejected warnings in a Pentagon-contracted study that the Iraq war risks "breaking" the U.S. Army, and he said a recent decision to scale back U.S. troop levels in Iraq did not grow out of a need to relieve the strain on American ground forces.

"The force is not broken," Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon press briefing yesterday. "I just can't imagine someone looking at the United States armed forces today and suggesting that they're close to breaking. That's just not the case."

On the contrary, Rumsfeld said, the U.S. military is "battle-hardened" and an "enormously capable force," as demonstrated to the world by its swift overthrow of governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such proven capability "ought to increase the deterrent rather than weaken it," he added.


What Constitutes Real Leadership on Reform?

Congress needs to make a clean break from former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's legacy. They won't do that by simply picking a new leader from three members who have their own campaign finance and ethical problems. Real reform won't happen simply by replacing DeLay -- "DeLay-ism" needs to be replaced. Both parties need to get serious about a real reform agenda that includes sweeping changes in the way we fund political campaigns, including publicly-financed “Clean Elections." Watch the videos, read the facts, and take action to demand that Congress get serious about reform.

See the Roy Blunt Ad
See the John Boehner Ad

See the John Shadegg Ad

White House Dismissed '02 Surveillance Proposal

The Bush administration rejected a 2002 Senate proposal that would have made it easier for FBI agents to obtain surveillance warrants in terrorism cases, concluding that the system was working well and that it would likely be unconstitutional to lower the legal standard.

The proposed legislation by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) would have allowed the FBI to obtain surveillance warrants for non-U.S. citizens if they had a "reasonable suspicion" they were connected to terrorism -- a lower standard than the "probable cause" requirement in the statute that governs the warrants.


NY Times Editorial-Senators in Need of a Spine

Judge Samuel Alito Jr., whose entire history suggests that he holds extreme views about the expansive powers of the presidency and the limited role of Congress, will almost certainly be a Supreme Court justice soon. His elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government — and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead.

It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public's attention to the import of this nomination.

At the Judiciary Committee hearings, the judge followed the well-worn path to confirmation, which has the nominee offer up only the most boring statements and unarguable truisms: the president is not above the law; diversity in college student bodies is a good thing. But in what he has said in the past, and what he refused to say in the hearings, Judge Alito raised warning flags that, in the current political context, cannot simply be shrugged away with a promise to fight again another day.

The Alito nomination has been discussed largely in the context of his opposition to abortion rights, and if the hearings provided any serious insight at all into the nominee's intentions, it was that he has never changed his early convictions on that point. The judge — who long maintained that Roe v. Wade should be overturned — ignored all the efforts by the Judiciary Committee's chairman, Arlen Specter, to get him to provide some cover for pro-choice senators who wanted to support the nomination. As it stands, it is indefensible for Mr. Specter or any other senator who has promised constituents to protect a woman's right to an abortion to turn around and hand Judge Alito a potent vote to undermine or even end it.

But portraying the Alito nomination as just another volley in the culture wars vastly underestimates its significance. The judge's record strongly suggests that he is an eager lieutenant in the ranks of the conservative theorists who ignore our system of checks and balances, elevating the presidency over everything else. He has expressed little enthusiasm for restrictions on presidential power and has espoused the peculiar argument that a president's intent in signing a bill is just as important as the intent of Congress in writing it. This would be worrisome at any time, but it takes on far more significance now, when the Bush administration seems determined to use the cover of the "war on terror" and presidential privilege to ignore every restraint, from the Constitution to Congressional demands for information.


Top U.S. General Says Army 'Stretched'

The top U.S. general in Iraq acknowledged Thursday that American forces in this country are "stretched," but he said he will recommend withdrawals based only on operational needs.

Gen. George Casey told reporters he had discussed the issue with Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker on Wednesday and that the Army chief of staff believes he can still sustain the mission in Iraq.

"The forces are stretched ... and I don't think there's any question of that," Casey said. "But the Army has been for the last several years going through a modernization strategy that will produce more units and more ready units."


GM loses $4.8 billion in quarter

Just when it seemed things couldn't get worse for General Motors Corp., they did, as the embattled automaker said Thursday it lost a total of $4.8 billion in just the last three months of 2005, far worse than Wall Street expectations.


Hamas Claims Victory in Palestinian Elections

The radical Islamic group Hamas claimed victory Thursday in voting for the first Palestinian parliament in a decade, saying it won a clear majority of seats and had the right to form the next government.

The claims, although officially unconfirmed, were followed by the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and the rest of his cabinet. Resignation was a formality following parliamentary elections, but Qureia acknowledged that Hamas had likely won a majority in the 132-seat legislature and should be given the opportunity to form the next cabinet.


Minimum hourly wage in Santa Fe, N.M., the highest in the country, a city requirement that applies not only to city workers and contractors but also to any company with 25 or more people on its payroll:


Source: Denver Post, 1/22/06

Search Your Conscience & Call for a Filibuster

Get the LOCAL office district numbers (most effective) of your own
senators at NEW ACTION PAGE: http://www.nocrony.comor call them
toll free at 888-355-3588, 888-818-6641 or 800-426-8073.

As a result of the crescendo of opposing voices raised so far,what
we are hearing now is that virtually all Democratic
members of the Senate are prepared to vote "No"on the
Alitono mination. Many have already made strong statements about
how dangerous it would be to allow ANOTHER extremereactionary
on to our Supreme Court. What they must nowunderstand is that a
"No" vote not in the form of a filibuster is in fact a "Yes" vote, because
that would be the result.

Harry Reid has been quoted as saying that there are 8 Democratic
senators still not supporting a filibuster, but has abdicated his leadership
role and any responsibility for pressuring them to come on board. It is
a "conscience vote" he says.

So we ask each of our individual senators in turn. Is there not one of
you who will vote their conscience to START a filibuster? If your putative
majority leader has in fact freed your hands. If you concede that your
constituents are strongly opposed to this appointment. If you concede
that YOU are opposed to this appointment. And if you recognize that there
is nothing that will ACTUALLY stop Alito BUT a filibuster. Then you must
call for a filibuster as a matter of conscience.

No one can predict at this moment how a cloture vote would come out.
We believe if just one senator would find the courage of conviction to
start the process many more would rally to their side, including vast
additional numbers of their own constituents who have remained silent
so far ONLY because they don't believe you will EVER stand up for them.
But whether a filibuster succeeds or not, your constituents will never
forgive you, senator, for not even trying.

We are calling on our participants to unite behind one message today.


Feel free to phrase it any way you like in your own words.
In fact, please do so. We need to call them on all their LOCAL district
office numbers, and you can get them all at using the instant lookup
function at

NEW ACTION PAGE: http://www.nocrony.com

There have been reports of answering machines at capacity
and so on in Washington, but many people are also still getting
through on the toll free numbers 888-355-3588, 888-818-6641
and 800-426-8073. Call the local numbers, call the toll-free numbers.
Call and call again. Send a real time personal message using the one
click form on the page above.

And then you will be able to look back and say that you did absolutely
everything you could to save our Supreme Court, our democracy, and
our country. If only we can find just one senator who will do as much.

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to
be ours, and forward this message to everyone else you know.

If you would like to get alerts like these, you can do so at http://www.usalone.com/in.htm

Sen. Clinton Blasts Bush on Eavesdropping

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called President Bush's explanations for eavesdropping on domestic conversations without warrants "strange" and "far-fetched" Wednesday in blistering criticism ahead of the president's State of the Union address.

"Obviously, I support tracking down terrorists. I think that's our obligation. But I think it can be done in a lawful way," the New York Democrat said.

Clinton, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, told reporters she did not yet know whether the administration's warrantless eavesdropping broke any laws. But the senator said she did not buy the White House's main justification for the tactic.


More Americans favor impeaching Bush, poll says

The word "impeachment" is popping up increasingly these days and not just off the lips of liberal activists spouting predictable bumper-sticker slogans.

After the unfounded claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and recent news of domestic spying without warrants, mainstream politicians and ordinary voters are talking openly about the possibility that President Bush could be impeached. So is at least one powerful senator, Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So far, it's just talk. With Republicans controlling Congress, and memories still fresh of the bitter fight and national distraction inflamed by former President Clinton's 1998 impeachment, even the launching of an official inquiry is a very long shot.

But a poll released last week by Zogby International showed 52 percent of American adults thought Congress should consider impeaching Bush if he wiretapped U.S. citizens without court approval, including 59 percent of independents and 23 percent of Republicans. (The survey had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.)


Progressive Talking Points 1/26/06

Breaking the Law

America’s ultimate objective is not merely to eavesdrop on the communications of someone who may have ties to al Qaeda, but to identify and capture or kill terrorists who plan or engage in attacks on the United States or our allies. And the illegal and unsustainable warrantless wiretap program will not help us reach that goal. President Bush and the White House are once again trying to reset the political debate on security, by making illegal domestic spying a political issue and obscuring the facts about their record on fighting terrorism. The President has ample authority to move quickly to intercept al Qaeda communications both in and outside of the United States. And he can do so without breaking the law.

  • Surveillance is an important weapon in the fight against terrorism. America’s technological superiority and our commitment to the rule of law are perhaps our greatest advantages over al Qaeda and its supporters. The capability to conduct electronic surveillance of enemy communications is one of the most potent weapons we possess in the war on terrorism and it should be focused relentlessly on those who would do us harm.

  • The President’s illegal wiretapping of Americans is another poor decision in his long record of incompetence in fighting terrorism and the war in Iraq. The President’s illegal domestic spying program undermines our ability to prevent terrorist attacks. It diverts counterterrorism resources from more productive investigations, could force countless counterterrorism investigations to be shut down, and might even result in convicted terrorists being released from prison. President Bush shifted resources from the war on terrorism to invade Iraq and as a result, we remain threatened by a still-at-large Osama bin Laden, and Americans no longer trust this President to protect them from terrorists.

  • The Bush administration said FISA authorities were sufficient to intercept al Qaeda communications. James A. Baker, the Justice Department lawyer who oversees the DoJ's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, wrote in 2002 that modifications to FISA that were passed in the PATRIOT Act "enabled the government to become quicker, more flexible, and more focused in going 'up' on those suspected terrorists in the United States." Specifically, expanding the time between when the surveillance can start and when the government must obtain a warrant "has allowed us to make full and effective use of FISA's pre-existing emergency provisions to ensure that the government acts swiftly to respond to terrorist threats."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.

-Aldous Huxley

Pay to Play

(Today it will cost you to scroll through today's Detail's. The cost is minimal and something all can afford. It requires no cash - but a moment of your time and a phone. I am asking you to take a moment out of your day to place a phone call to your Congressional Representative - the details are below. Thanks. eaprez)

National Call-in Day to Repair the USA PATRIOT Act
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Thank you for all your calls and visits to Congress, your resolutions, and your other actions to defend civil liberties. In December, a bipartisan group of senators stopped a bill that would have reauthorized expiring PATRIOT Act provisions from coming to a vote because it failed to safeguard essential civil liberties. In anticipation of the new February 3 deadline for the PATRIOT Act's reauthorization, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee has designated January 25, 2006, as National PATRIOT Act Call-In Day. Dozens of other organizations are joining us (see below).

What to do: Please join this effort by calling Congress this Wednesday, January 25th, and ask your friends to do the same.

  • Dial the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and ask the operator to connect you (24 hours a day) or
  • Enter your zip code here http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ to find your legislators' direct Washington office phone numbers. To find their district office numbers, click on their names or call your local library.

Please phone both your Senators and your Representative. Ask your member of Congress to work for a PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill that truly preserves free speech and privacy, and that restores checks and balances, including judicial review and much greater congressional oversight.

Other talking points: If you want to make additional points, here are a few suggestions:

  • Prevent the FBI from “fishing” through our private purchase, medical, and library records by requiring a statement of fact linking persons whose records are sought to a terrorism investigation.
  • Allow businesses and libraries to pose a meaningful challenge to a FISA Court order or a National Security Letter demanding customer records.
  • In light of warrantless wiretapping of domestic email and phone communications authorized by the president, make sure there are sufficient privacy safeguards and oversight on all parts of the PATRIOT Act involving the executive branch (which includes the Department of Justice and the FBI).
  • Protect our first amendment rights by removing a proposed provision that would subject anyone who protests in cordoned-off areas at presidential appearances to prison sentences up to 10 years.
  • Eliminate proposed new death penalties from the reauthorization.
  • I’m not fooled by the administration’s fear-mongering or its arguments that there are partisan differences on these issues of security and liberty. Americans conservative and progressive know that our actions must be constrained by the rule of law, the Constitution, and checks and balances.
  • Now that we know the president has secretly authorized illegal, warrantless wiretaps and spying on peaceful protest groups, Congress must immediately stop those actions and hold much more detailed investigations over the whole Patriot Act (not just the sunsetting provisions) before reauthorizing any part of the Patriot Act.
  • Although the Senate reauthorization bill is insufficient, it is a much better starting point than the House version or the Conference Report.
  • While I’m concerned about terror, if America becomes a fear-ridden police state, the terrorists will have won, so we must protect our fundamental rights and privacy above all.

Can't get through right away? Many people must be phoning Congress. Keep your calls coming! If you prefer not to wait, call the next day or phone the district office.

Find additional resources at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee web site: http://www.bordc.org/involved/resourcesdefending.php.

Other organizations supporting the call-in day (partial list) include the Alliance for Justice, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, Amnesty International USA, Campaign for Reader Privacy, Center for Democracy and Technology, Code Pink, Council on American-Islamic Relations, First Amendment Foundation, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Global Exchange, League of United Latin American Citizens, League of Women Voters, Liberty Coalition, MoveOn.org Political Action, National Lawyers Guild, People For the American Way, Rights Working Group, San Francisco Labor Council, Unitarian Universalist Association, and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

White House Was Told Hurricane Posed Danger

(Caught in another lie! These people are sooooooo transparent. For those of you who still find it hard to tell when the President or anyone in the administration is lying - I'll clue you in on how to tell - if their mouth is moving, they're lying! eaprez)

The White House was told in the hours before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that the city would probably soon be inundated with floodwater, forcing the long-term relocation of hundreds of thousands of people, documents to be released Tuesday by Senate investigators show.

A Homeland Security Department report submitted to the White House at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, hours before the storm hit, said, "Any storm rated Category 4 or greater will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching."

The internal department documents, which were forwarded to the White House, contradict statements by President Bush and the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, that no one expected the storm protection system in New Orleans to be breached.

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," Mr. Bush said in a television interview on Sept. 1. "Now we're having to deal with it, and will."

Other documents to be released Tuesday show that the weekend before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Homeland Security Department officials predicted that its impact would be worse than a doomsday-like emergency planning exercise conducted in Louisiana in July 2004.


Progressive Talking Points 1/25/06

The State of…Health Care

By spending $1.7 trillion on health care in our country – roughly 15 percent of the nation’s economy – one would imagine the United States would have the best health care in the world, yet sadly this is not the case. We are in fact ranked 37th in the World. The reality is that the American health care system is broken. The number of Americans without health insurance has increased by 6.2 million, to 46 million. The administration’s lack of leadership and mismanagement has put our country on the wrong trajectory, with no help in sight. The time for real, comprehensive reform is now - and that will take real leadership from Washington.

  • The administration’s new health care solutions have helped their intended targets, the pharmaceutical industry. The administration has done a phenomenal job of crafting a prescription drug bill for the drug companies, but has once again left those in need far behind. The new “consumer driven health care plan” has only caused confusion among beneficiaries and has shifted costs from the healthy to the sick and elderly. The plan has even found a conservative critic in Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), who said, "The new federal program is too complicated for many people to understand, and the implementation of the new program by the federal government has been awful."

  • Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities still pervade America's health care system. Poor Americans and people of color receive substandard health care across the board. The death rate for African Americans is substantially higher than that of white Americans, and the infant mortality rate for African Americans is twice the rate for whites. Poor people are less likely to seek preventative medical care, which results in higher health care costs when they get sick. These disparities end up being a drain on all Americans.

  • Americans want a health care solution that controls cost and makes prevention a priority. By a margin of nearly 2-to-1 Americans have identified health care as the number one threat facing the economic well-being of individual Americans. With American families feeling increasingly helpless in the face of skyrocketing costs and stagnant wages, they are desperate for real reform. To meet this need American Progress has progressive solutions for real changes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.

-Thomas Jefferson

Three Civilians, Seven GIs Killed in Iraq

Gunmen wearing uniforms of a Shiite-led security force swept into a Sunni Arab neighborhood in central Baghdad before dawn Monday, killing three men and speeding away with more than 20 others, police and witnesses said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said seven more U.S. troops had been killed — a soldier in a roadside bombing in Baghdad on Monday, two Air Force members in a blast near Taji north of the capital late Sunday, and four soldiers in a roadside bombing near the northern town of Hawijah on Friday.

There was no word on the fate of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll. Iraqi officials said joint U.S.-Iraqi operations were carried out recently to free her, but they provided no details.


Democrats: Get Up & Walk Out

By William Rivers Pitt
To: Congressional Democrats
From: William Rivers Pitt
RE: A bold maneuver

I have a wild and crazy idea.

George W. Bush's delivery of the State of the Union address will take place on Tuesday, January 31, a little more than a week from now. It is my strong belief that every single Democrat present in the House chamber for the speech should, at a predetermined moment, stand up and walk out. No yelling. No heated words. Every Democrat should simply stand silently and leave.

Crazy, I know. Crazy, and possibly the best idea ever put before a body of Democrats since the New Deal.

Understand this, congressional Democrats, and understand it well: you are not dealing merely with a body of political opponents in the GOP. You are dealing with a group of people that want you exterminated politically. The days of walking the halls of the Rayburn Building, sharing a bourbon with a colleague from the other side of the aisle, and hammering out a compromise are as dead as Julius Caesar. Collegiality is out. Mutual respect is out. They want you gone for good. Erased. Destroyed.


For the love of God, you are being compared to Osama bin Laden all over network television because some within your ranks have had the courage to question the war in Iraq. It hasn't been subtle. Bin Laden, according to the right-wing talking heads, is getting his talking points straight from Howard Dean. These are the out-front spokespeople for the folks running the GOP right now. If you think there is compromise to be had with these people, if you think there is quarter to be given to you, then I have a nice, big red bridge to sell you in San Francisco.


(Bravo Mr Pitt! THAT action would be the talk at the water cooler the next day rather than the content of the speech. Problem is, Democrats have shown themselves to be spineless and without resolve. We are at a precipice in this nation's history and it's time for the Democrats to get a spine and to take drastic measures. Something drastic enough to grab the attention of the media as well as the sleeping, apathetic population. Mr Pitts idea has merit in my never to be humble opinion. We must remember that 'power concedes NOTHING' . It's time for us to stop reacting to the Republicans and start making them react to us. This very simple idea that Mr Pitt has put forward could be just the thing to start the tidal wave of change that is needed. eaprez)

Bush Defends 'Terrorist Surveillance'

President Bush pushed back Monday at critics of his once-secret domestic spying effort, saying it should be termed a "terrorist surveillance program" and contending it has the backing of legal experts, key lawmakers and the Supreme Court.

Several members of Congress from both parties have questioned whether the warrantless snooping is legal. That is because it bypasses a special federal court that, by law, must authorize eavesdropping on Americans and because the president provided limited notification to only a few lawmakers.

"It's amazing that people say to me, 'Well, he's just breaking the law.' If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?" asked Bush. One of those who had been informed, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was sitting behind Bush during his appearance at Kansas State University.

Bush's remarks were part of an aggressive administration campaign to defend the four-year-old program as a crucial and legal terror-fighting tool. The White House is trying to sell its side of the story before the Senate Judiciary Committee opens hearings on it in two weeks.