I grew up reading comic books wanting to be a superhero. Those who speak the truth are heroes, anything less is a lie.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Boehner and Kline...hmmm

The Dump Kline Blog says that Congressman Kline(MN R) is supporting Rep. John Boehner (Ohio) for GOP majority leader.

Kline, Kennedy and Boehner held meetings together in Minnesota that I attended a year or two ago - to 'explain' how successful the 'leave no child behind' program would be when fully funded. None of them knew when or how that funding would happen...now several years later Minnesota schools are still waiting to get funding for this failing federal mandate dubbed by most as "leave no child a dime".

I remember thinking at the time of the meeting that all three seemed to have the kind of 'tan' only those with lots of free time can afford...you know, by spending lots of time on golf courses. Seems like I wasn't too off base in my observation. Boehner's ethical past includes: his proclivity to attend fundraisers on golf courses in between forays along the K Street Corridor, as well as his tendency to speak on cell phones...John Boehner used his cellular phone in 1996 to participate in a conference call with Gingrich and other key Republicans regarding Gingrich's response to his ethics violations. Ultimately it lead to Boehner being disgraced and Delay raising in political power. Gingrich went on to resign.

The voting for the GOP leadership will be February 2. It is done in secret and details of the outcome are never revealed, so members are free to vote for their favorite candidate — even if they had promised their vote to someone else.

One of the most popular ways for the candidates to curry support is to buy it. It's an unspoken prerequisite that a candidate has to be an aggressive fundraiser who has campaigned for GOP candidates and, more importantly, has directed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaign accounts of his or her colleagues (you know like Delay and Abramoff!)...

Boehner and Kline...hmmm...As my mom would say, you're only as good as the company you keep.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Children and Taxes - They Get It!

Back in April of 2003, the Star Tribune's Mindworks focused on Taxes.

Excerpt from an overview of the Mindworks essays:

The adults who advocate balancing the budget by cutting education funding are doing so from a myopic world view, they wrote. Shortchanging schools, many said, means shortchanging the future by creating mediocre leaders and adults who are ill prepared for life.

Overview of the Mindwork essays.

Most of the children who wrote essays totally understood where tax money should go. They are wise beyond their years. The great hope is that adults would be able to see what is so apparent to our children.

Here's what the children had to say: essays

Side Note:
In 2005 we had a great opportunity to bring educational funding up to speed by passing a 5% increase in funding for the next two years. A 5% increase would have brought our schools up to where they should be - basic funding levels. The DFL had proposed this 5% increase. The Republicans in the House and Senate only wanted to do 3.5% each year (3% short of basic funding levels). Both parties settled after a government shut down, due to a Governor's pledge to a special interest group - which he ended up breaking, to increase funding 4% each year for two years. Though 4% is better than the Republican's proposed 3%, our schools will continue to struggle - because of one man's pledge. Remember the children, when you vote this year - they deserve it!

GOP Corruption or DFL Ethics

MN GOP is making up their own reality...trying to involve the DFL in their corruption of taking Abramoff money but...

The American Prospect in 'You Don’t know Jack' has an analysis that shows:
- In total, the donations of Abramoff’s tribal clients to Democrats dropped by nine percent after they hired him, while their donations to Republicans more than doubled, increasing by 135 percent after they signed him up;

-Five out of seven of Abramoff’s tribal clients vastly favored Republican candidates over Democratic ones;

-Four of the seven began giving substantially more to Republicans than Democrats after he took them on;

-Abramoff’s clients gave well over twice as much to Republicans than Democrats, while tribes not affiliated with Abramoff gave well over twice as much to Democrats than the GOP -- exactly the reverse pattern.
“It’s very hard to see the donations of Abramoff’s clients as a bipartisan greasing of the wheels,” Morris, the firm’s founder and a former investigations editor at the Los Angeles Times, told The Prospect.

Maybe I'm naive but GOP spin is the same as an outright lie. Not one Democrat took money from Abramoff. NOT ONE! Yet they would have you believe 'everyboday does it' as a defense for criminal activity. Most moms taught thier children that excuse wouldn't work! Where did these people come from with their lack of ethics? And more importantly...Which party represents your values?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Not So Fast! The DFL is better than that!

"It's time for all of us to come together, committing our time, pooling our resources, and uniting our efforts to help Amy win this November." Patty Wetterling

I respect Patty Wetterling and Amy Klobuchar - I honestly do, but now is not the time to act like Republicans. We do not need to "clear the field" before our voices are heard and before we hear from all candidates. We are not Republicans.

I have to agree with Ford Bell on this one (click on the link to read Ford Bell's full address to the State DFL Central Committee):

" Are we still a home-grown, grassroots, activist party, or should we be a top-down, wholly-owned subsidiary of Chuck Schumer and the political leadership in Washington?" - Ford Bell

I will support the endorsed candidate. But I will not work for the candidate, if I feel the candidate is not open to debating other candidates running for endorsement or if I feel the candidate feels that it's a good idea to "clear the field". I just cannot, in good conscious, do it.

If you agree, post a reply to this message - in doing so we'll send a message to all who think we should act like Republicans and "clear the field".

Blue Rambling Rants

It's Friday, time to round up the usual rantings...

The weather:
January 27 in Minnesota...50 degrees!
St. Paul's Winter Carnival...no snow, no ice, no 9 inches of ice to cut through to ice fish, no balaclava, no snow mobiles...no,no,no, aaagh
The politics:
Judge Sam Alito...done deal! They win again...damm spineless democrats!I spy an American... Our current elective dictatorship, governed by a secretive, possibly benign, awesomely powerful King George...futile or feudal?
The blogshpere:
Bu$hco is still searching for google's search records...oh dear me...good thing they yahoo!
The alternate universe:
And the National Award in Fiction goes to: Bu$h's upcoming 'State of the Union' address...just how far can reality be exploided before it's a fictional work of art? U.S. economy grew at only a 1.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, the slowest pace in three years. There are no coincidences in the universe.
The picture:
Not only did President Bu$h defend the pictures of him and Jack Abramoff yesterday, he reaffirmed that the White House will not release them to the public (but I will!). Must be some dog ugly pics!

Speak Dean To Me

I get shivers down my Democratic Spine when his pouty lips pronounce:

"One: American jobs that will stay in America, using energy independence to generate those jobs.

Two:
a strong national defense based on telling the truth to our citizens, our soldiers and our allies.

Three: Honesty and integrity to be restored to government.

Four: A health care system that works for everybody just like they have in 36 other countries.

Five: a strong public education system so we can have optimism and opportunity back in America."
Yes...may I have more please.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

How perceptive - he outsourced that too!

"The people are demanding honest government. The people want services. They want to be able to raise their children in an environment in which they can get a decent education and they can find health care." - George W. Bu$h

Bu$h said this in regards to the Palestinian's election results.

HOW CAN OUR PRESIDENT BE SO PERCEPTIVE WHEN IT COMES TO PEOPLE IN ANOTHER PART OF THE WORLD AND AT THE SAME TIME BE SO OBLIVIOUS TO THE PEOPLE WHO HE SERVES?

George W. Bu$h listen to me when I say: "The people are demanding honest government. The people want services. They want to be able to raise their children in an environment in which they can get a decent education and they can find health care."
I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THE PALESTINIANS - I'M TALKING ABOUT AMERICANS!!!

We demand an honest government! We demand services! We demand an environment in which our children can get a decent education! We demand health care for every American!!!

We have been lied to over and over. As handouts are being given to Corporate America - YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS cut services and programs that the neediest Americans depend on. HOW MORAL IS THAT?
We have had enough of the culture of corruption and fear that you, your party and your friends have created.

"Obviously, people were not happy with the status quo," Bush said.

You are absolutely right!!! AMERICANS are not happy with the "status quo" of corruption and fear.

You preach from on top of a moral soap box, yet your moral soap has been washed away by the filth and dirt of corruption and fear.

We must restore the oversight that is so desperately needed - and we can do it, this year, on election day. Our work will not be done until then! The day after the election of 2006 - Bu$h will say once again: "It's a wake-up call to the leadership." But this time he'll be talking about the United States of America!!!


Quotes taken from CNN

Bu$h "A Pickin' His Time"

A week ago today, after the latest Osama bin Laden tape surfaced, White House spinner Scott McClellan said:

"As I indicated, clearly, the al Qaeda leaders and the terrorists are on the run. They're under a lot of pressure. We do not negotiate with terrorists. We put them out of business. The terrorists started this war, and the President made it clear that we will end it at a time and place of our choosing."
Well that certainly puts us in our place...Bu$h is just waiting to pick the 'time and place'!@#WTF! So enough already...pick! I voted to get bin Laden right after 911 but apparently Bu$h has other things on his mind. But could Bu$h 'choose' to get him now? Hasn't it been long enough? G*d almighty it's been long enough.

And The Envelop Please? GOP Set To Vote On New Leadership

The resignation of Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) as majority leader has opened a GOP Pandora's box. On February 2, the GOP will vote for a replacement to Delay. Currently there are three GOPers in the running: Representatives Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Boehner (Ohio), and John Shadegg (Ariz.).

Candidate #1: Roy Blunt contents that he has a lock on the 116 votes needed to win. But GOP congressmen are notorious liars and Blunt is a professional at it. Plus we're talking politics here! Blunt represents more of the same and that can't be good for the republicans especially leading up into elections. A Blunt vote is voting for the same corrupted system of lobbying scandals associated with the K Street project. Blunt also was among the party leaders last year who privately spanked Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) for his campaign against earmarks. Simply stated, Roy Blunt is a Delay clone.

Candidate #2: John Boehner would rule from the same power base as Delay and Blunt. He's a K Street operator who applies a heavy hand on lobbyists for contributions. Boehner has been reprimanded in the past for passing out campaign checks while on the House floor! Boehner is probably no less conservative than Blunt,and certainly not a reformer. The difference between Blunt's allies and Boehner's is not ideological: the difference is which House members each one has been raising money for. In other words like Blunt, Boehner would see more of the same corruption only with new faces.

Candidate #3: John Shadegg represents both reform and ideological rigor. A conservative former RSC chairman, he wants to prevent future Duke Cunningham scandals by cracking down on earmarks and he wants to abolish government pensions for any future corrupt congressmen. That's exactly why he won't be the new GOP majority leader. While Shadegg might find support among conservatives for his ideology and moderates for his reform, ultimately the GOP would have to relent and shed both K Street and earmarks...which won't happen. Republicans in the House still want to fall back on their assured fundraising to keep power.

There is also talk of others...making a late entry or 'drafts' but it's hard to mount a winning campaign late into this race. Whomever is the new GOP leader, one thing is for sure, this vote will tell America if the GOP is committed to eliminating their culture of corruption or if it will be more of the same.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Happy BDay Virginia

We can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods.
Virginia Woolfe 25 January (1832-1904),

God Told Me To Tell You

God Told me to tell you to stop Bu$h from funding Pat Robertson's faith-based initiative to the tune of 14+ million a year! Okay so it really wasn't god but close enough:
By now you've heard again and again about Pat Robertson's hateful and divisive rhetoric -- calling for the assassination of foreign leaders, asserting that Prime Minister Sharon's stroke occurred because he was "dividing God's land," and so on.
But would you believe that the federal government continues to fund Robertson's "Operation Blessing ?" According to a recent press report, under George W. Bush's faith-based initiative, "the group's annual revenue from government grants has ballooned from $108,000 to $14.4 million."

So whattaya waiting for...lightning to strike...go sign!

Between 100 and 300 people are killed each year in the United States from lightning and another 1,500 are injured. It is estimated that at any given time, 2,000 thunderstorms are occurring on earth and that lightning strikes the ground about 100 times per second. According to National Weather Service statistics, the average number of lightning fatalities in the U.S. for the last 10 years was 70. The number of fatalities has been steadily dropping. The average in the 1940s was over 300 per year. Last year there were only 41 lightning fatalities. However a recent study found that lightning deaths may be underreported by as much as 30 %. About 20% of people who are struck by lightning are killed - most survive! The chances of anyone being struck by lightning is 1 in 600,000. But once hit by lightening, your chances of being hit a second time go up by 50%.

There Will Be No Peace

This Week In Iraq:
The civil war is looming...casting it's dark shadow across the deserts making palms much more pleasing than the truth.
So what's left is an increasingly Iran-leaning, Shiite fundamentalist theocracy with a rump Kurdish republic attached to it. And you can put this in your signs-of-things-to-come file: Muqtada Sadr, the cherubic (and Rubenesque) militant young cleric, said on Sunday that the Mahdi Army, which is now a big part of the Iraqi government to be, says that his forces will fight alongside Iran's if Iran is attacked by the United States over its nuclear program.

So it's curtains for Bush's "victory or defeat" policy. The insurgency will strengthen, so that won't help. The Shiites are likely to move in an increasingly radical (and pro-Iranian direction), so that won't help. The violence will get worse.

St. Paul Minnesota: Still Ford Tough?

The Ford Plant is Minnesota is still alive but on life support.
Ford stays in St. Paul for now. The Ranger truck plant, with 1,900 employees, could be closed in the next round of cuts
The estimated annual fuel cost of a Ford Truck vs. Toyota Prius:

Truck FWD 36 City / 31 Hwy
Prius 51 City / 60 Hwy

Ford Ranger gets the 2005 'tons of greenhouse gases' award based on it's impact on climate change. Vehicles with higher fuel economy rate better (see above mpg)

Five ways to improve gas mileage:
1. Carpool
2. Take a bus, light rail, walk, bike
3. Combine trips
4. Turn off the air conditioning
5. Buy a hybrid

Things that affect mileage:
Driver Behavior & Driving Conditions
Vehicle Condition & Maintenance
Variations in Fuels
Inherent Variations in Vehicles
Engine Break-In

All of which begs the question:
"Have you driven a Ford lately?"
Should you be?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Pawlenty Fear Factor

Tim Pawlenty (MN-R) is traveling Minnesota these days campaigning for re-election while touting his immigration proposal. And truth be told... it's time for Minnesotans to have a honest discussion about immigration and it's impact (good and bad) on our state. Unfortunately that's not the intention. Pawlenty is using immigration as a wedge issue like fear factor uses things that go bump in the night...in large numbers with the the intent to instill dread and fear. He focuses on crime to the exclusion of effect and resolve.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80 percent of Americans believe government isn't doing enough to stem illegal immigration. The poll also found that a majority, 56 percent, believe that illegal immigrants have done more to hurt the country than to help it. Wanting to be re-elected but knowing his dismal record won't help him, Pawlenty , in typically Rove fashion, has taken a valid issue and turned it into a frankenstien with a Spanish surname. As predicted, the mindless town mob has responded with pitchforks and torches. After all, we can't have Gonzalestien roaming our great state threatening our women, homes, valuables, schools, independence, freedom, kitten, hummers....well... We've all seen the movie.

Instead of calling for common sense policies promoting dignity, diversity and community, Pawlenty invokes fear and divisiveness. Instead of debating the issue, Tim is slamming and decrying crime but not causes. Still I guess that shouldn't surprise me, Tim's never been good at managing or resolving issues.

When Pawlenty first laid out his immigration proposal, he said it was time for a reasoned debate about where the nation and Minnesota stands in respect to illegal immigration. For some strange reason I thought that would include policies that addressed the issue while promoting the Minnesota quality of community.

I'm still waiting for that to happen.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Supersize Soldiers: Too Fat to Fit?

A lean, mean force, or not!

Besides terrorists, germ warfare and nuclear weapons, military officials are increasingly worry about a different kind of threat... troops too fat to fight. Weight issues plague all branches of the military, from elite Marines to the Air Force, often lampooned as the “chair force” because of its many sedentary jobs.

It is one of the biggest worries facing the Army and other armed services recruiters. It's not easy these days finding enough recruits, and an even bigger worry is finding enough recruits who can fit in their uniforms. Nearly 2 out of 10 men and 4 out of 10 women of recruiting age weigh too much to be eligible, a record number for that age group.

Today's soldiers are supersized, averaging 37 pounds heavier than their Civil War counterparts. Military officials say that's not all bad, because most of it is muscle, not fat, and the result of better nutrition. "Large and in charge" makes soldiers look more formidable to the enemy, they note.

Still thousands of troops are struggling to lose weight, and thousands have been booted out of the service in recent years due to not meeting the acceptable weight guildlines, (3000 in 2003).
"This is quickly becoming a national security issue for us. The pool of recruits is becoming smaller," said Col. Gaston Bathalon, an Army nutrition expert. Unless weight rules are relaxed, "we're going to have a harder time fielding an Army," he said.
Weight problems add stress to already stressful jobs, costing many soldiers promotions and leading some to try desperate measures like rubber suits and risky pills to shed pounds. Problems don't end when active duty does, either. The Veterans Affairs health system increasingly is strained by vets piling on pounds and developing weight-related diseases like diabetes. The diabetes rate among the services is nearly doubled that of the civilian population.

Source: U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine

Why the weight increase? At this point most scientists agree that the problem is environmental: Americans are eating more and exercising less. We're working longer hours, immobilized at desk jobs. When we do have a break to eat, we're so strung out – and often so poor – that picking up some fast food is the easiest way to go.

Female weight chart

Friday, January 20, 2006

Wetterling - A Class Act!

Thanks Patty, you truly are looking out for all of us. Democrats will win this election because our candidates are willing to put the interest of their friends, family, community and state before any personal gain.

Wetterling Withdraws from Senate Race - Urges DFL Unity
I am therefore taking myself out of the United States Senate race to ensure that we come together, pool resources and unite our efforts to win in November of this year...

...I have watched Amy Klobuchar these last eleven months. I have learned more about her as a person, as a candidate and as a friend. Amy has demonstrated that she will be a strong, effective voice for the fight I believe in: protecting our children, building safer communities, and seeing that every Minnesotan has access to a good education and quality health care. I will do anything I can to help Amy get elected to the U.S. Senate

El Papa Sezs No ID!

Even the Pope!
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican newspaper has published an article saying “intelligent design” is not science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms only creates confusion.

Reality Check! My Ass

The Minnesota GOP is trying to mount a campaign based in lies where they take the 'real' out of reality! Pat Kessler, Ron Carey (MNGOP Chair) and numerous right leaning blogs are trying to falsely tie the Minnesota DFL to the GOP Abramoff scandal. This week's Reality Check in the GOP newsline:
“...of the $19,000 given to MN politicians by Abramoff Clients, $15,000 went to DFLers...In fact most of the Abramoff related monies in Minnesota went to Democrats’…
What the !@??! Read my lips: No DFLers took money from Jack Abramoff! (Do you think for one moment he would give even half a penny to any Democrat anywhere?)

DNC Chair Dean:
There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff. Not one. Not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican, every person under investigation is a Republican, every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money...

Want the truth...try this Reality Check: click here

Live! From Death Row!

Elder inmate Clarence Allen needed 2 injections ,a second shot of potassium chloride to stop his heart from beating.
"It's not unusual. This guy's heart had been going for 76 years," said Warden Stephen Ornoski
Having suffered a heart attack back in September, Allen had asked prison authorities to let him die if he went into cardiac arrest before his execution, a request prison officials said they would not honor.
"At no point are we not going to value the sanctity of life," said prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon. "We would resuscitate him," then execute him.
Sheesh. "Sanctity of life?"

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bin Thinkin'


At the very least shouldn't Bu$h give an update on what's being done to find him? Or is it not worth the $ucks (unlike Iraq who didn't mastermind or play a role in the 911 attack!) CIA confirms voice on tape is Bin Laden.

How Bin Laden got away.

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."
- G.W. Bush, 9/13/01

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."
- G.W. Bush, 9/13/01

"I want justice...There's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive,'"
- G.W. Bush, 9/17/01, UPI

"...Secondly, he is not escaping us. This is a guy, who, three months ago, was in control of a county [sic]. Now he's maybe in control of a cave. He's on the run. Listen, a while ago I said to the American people, our objective is more than bin Laden. But one of the things for certain is we're going to get him running and keep him running, and bring him to justice. And that's what's happening. He's on the run, if he's running at all. So we don't know whether he's in cave with the door shut, or a cave with the door open -- we just don't know...."
- Bush, in remarks in a Press Availablity with the Press Travel Pool,
The Prairie Chapel Ranch, Crawford TX, 12/28/01, as reported on
official White House site

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."
- G.W. Bush, 3/13/02

"I am truly not that concerned about him."
- G.W. Bush, repsonding to a question about bin Laden's whereabouts,
3/13/02 (The New American, 4/8/02)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Democrats Leading The Way Beyond Corruption

Howard Dean, Chairman of the DNC, is offering us a way beyond the corruption...now call your representatives tell them the time has come (truth be told it's long past time!):

THE HONEST LEADERSHIP AND OPEN GOVERNMENT ACT
Democrats offer an aggressive reform package to reverse Republican excesses and restore the public trust. Our program for change embodies the following provisions:

The Tony Rudy Reform: Close the Revolving Door. Close the revolving door between the Congress and lobbying firms by doubling (from one year to two) the cooling-off period during which lawmakers, senior Congressional staff, and Executive Branch officials are prohibited from lobbying their former offices. Eliminate floor privileges for former Members of Congress and officers of the Senate and House who return to lobby.

--WHY: Republicans’ Revolving Door Lead to Criminal Activity. “Abramoff developed a close relationship with [DeLay] deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy. ‘For all intents and purposes, Tony worked for Jack,’ contends a former Abramoff associate, who tells TIME that Abramoff even bought Rudy a text-messaging pager so that they would never be out of touch…When Rudy left DeLay’s staff in 2000, he joined Abramoff at the lobbying firm of Greenberg Traurig. Rudy now works for Buckham at Alexander Strategy Group, another lobbying operation.” In addition, “Identifying [former Bob Ney Chief of Staff Neil] Volz only as ‘Staffer B,’ the Abramoff plea agreement suggests he may have lobbied Ney, members of his congressional staff and the House Administration Committee only one month after leaving a staff position on Ney’s committee - far short of the one-year cooling off period required by law.” [Time, 1/16/06; Copley News Service, 1/5/06]

The Ralph Reed Reform: Toughen Public Disclosure of Lobbyist Activity. Significantly expand the information lobbyists must disclose - including campaign contributions and client fees. Require them to file disclosure reports electronically, and increase the frequency of those filings. Require lobbyists to certify that they did not violate the rules, and make them subject to criminal penalties for false certifications.

--WHY: Michael Scanlon and Ralph Reed Secretly Exploited Voters by Not Disclosing Clients. “Abramoff partner and former DeLay aide, Michael Scanlon, paid Ralph Reed $1.2 million to help oppose a new tribal casino that would compete with the casinos run by Abramoff’s tribal clients. Ralph Reed used the money and his Christian Coalition network to raise grassroots opposition to the competing casino without disclosing to his followers that their anti-gambling efforts were being funded by a competing gambling interest. [Washington Post, 8/30/04]

The Jack Abramoff Reform: Ban Lobbyist Gifts and Travel. Prohibit the receipt of gifts, including gifts of meals, entertainment and travel, from lobbyists.
--WHY: Lobbyists’ Gifts Created Unethical Relationships Among Republican Congressmen. “First came the dinner invitations, then the tickets. Staffers in the office of former House Majority leader Tom DeLay could dine -- usually, free of charge -- at Signatures, the expense-account restaurant conveniently owned by lobbyist Jack Abramoff…the DeLay staffers began to think that Abramoff’s box at the arena was their box, and, in the cozy way of Washington, it might as well have been.” Abramoff also reportedly flew aides to Sen. Burns and Rep. DeLay to the 2001 Super Bowl and, during that trip, provided each with $500 worth of gambling chips on a SunCruz ship partly owned by Mr. Abramoff. [Newsweek, 1/16/06; Washington Post, 3/5/05; The Hill, 12/7/05]

The Grover Norquist Reform: Shut Down Pay-to-Play Schemes Like the “K Street Project.” End efforts like the “K Street Project,” which Republicans created to tell corporations and lobbying firms whom they should hire in exchange for political access.

--WHY: Republicans Dictated Hiring at Corporations, Trade Associations and Lobbying Firms - and let Special Interests Dominate the Republican Agenda in Return. “DeLay, Santorum, and their associates organized a systematic campaign, closely monitored by Republicans on Capitol Hill and by Grover Norquist and the Republican National Committee, to put pressure on firms not just to hire Republicans but also to fire Democrats. With the election of Bush, this pressure became stronger…Several Democratic lobbyists have been pushed out of their jobs as a result; business associations who hire Democrats for prominent positions have been subject to retribution.” In addition, “while it’s not uncommon for lobbyists to have a hand in writing legislation on the Hill, the Bush administration has sometimes shifted the locus of executive policy making so far towards K Street that Bush’s own appointees are cut out of the process.” [New York Review of Books, 6/23/05; Washington Monthly, July/August 2003]

The Scully & Tauzin Reform: Disclosure of Outside Job Negotiations. Requires lawmakers to disclose when they are negotiating private sector jobs, and requires Executive Branch officials who are negotiating private sector jobs to receive approval from the independent Office of Government Ethics.

--WHY: Jack Abramoff Offered Lobbying Jobs to Congressional Staff for Helping his Clients on Legislation While Members and Executive Officials Took Lobbying Jobs After Regulating Industry. “Rep. W.J. “Billy” Tauzin, who exercised jurisdiction over the industry as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, will become president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America on Jan. 3, when he retires from Congress…As a committee chairman in 2003, Tauzin helped to write the law to provide outpatient prescription coverage under Medicare.” Thomas Scully, the former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, held job negotiations with the same industries he regulated while also drafting the Medicare prescription drug bill. [Los Angeles Times, 12/16/04; GovExec, 4/9/04]

The Frist & Hastert Reform: Prohibit “Dead of Night” Special Interest Provisions. Require that all conference committee meetings be open to the public and that members of the conference committee have a public opportunity to vote on all amendments. Make copies of conference reports available to Members, and post them publicly on the Internet, 24 hours before consideration (unless waived by a supermajority vote).

--WHY: Frist and Hastert Inserted a Special Interest Liability Provision in the Middle of the Night. According to Congressman David Obey, “The conference committee ended its work with the understanding, both verbal and in writing, that there would be no legislative liability protection language inserted in this bill…But after the conference was finished at 6 p.m., Senator Frist marched over to the House side of the Capitol about 4 hours later and insisted that over 40 pages of legislation, which I have in my hand, 40 pages of legislation that had never been seen by conferees, be attached to the bill. The Speaker joined him in that assistance so that, without a vote of the conferees, that legislation was unilaterally and arrogantly inserted into the bill after the conference was over in a blatantly abusive power play by two of the most powerful men in Congress…” [Congressional Record, 12/22/05]

The Halliburton Reform: Zero Tolerance for Contract Cheaters. Restore accountability and openness in federal contracting by subjecting major contract actions to public disclosure and aggressive competition; criminally prosecuting contractors who cheat taxpayers, with penalties including suspension and debarment; imposing stiff criminal and civil penalties for wartime fraud on government contracting; prohibiting contractors with conflicts of interest from conducting oversight or writing contract requirements they could bid on; mandating full disclosure of contract overcharges; creating tough penalties for improper no-bid contracts; and closing the revolving door between federal contract officials and private contractors.

--WHY: No-Bid Contracts Bilked American Taxpayers. In March 2003, in what the top Army Corps contracting officer at the time has called the worst case of contracting abuse she ever witnessed, the Pentagon awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a no-bid contract to rebuild Iraqi oil fields and conduct “operation of facilities and distribution of products.” The initial deal was thought to be worth as much as $7 billion dollars. Halliburton is the largest private contractor in post-war Iraq, with potential deals totaling well over $11 billion. It continues to receive major federal contracts despite over $1.4 billion in disputed billing charges and numerous other abuses. Before becoming Vice President, Dick Cheney served as Halliburton’s Chairman. [Los Angeles Times, 5/7/03; Washington Post, 2/10/04; AP, 9/26/03]

The Brownie Reform: Prohibit Cronyism in Key Appointments. End rampant cronyism by requiring that any individual appointed to a position involving public safety possess proven credentials, and training or expertise in one or more areas relevant to the position.

--WHY: Cronyism Led to Incompetence in Key Agencies like Michael Brown, the College Roommate of President Bush’s 2000 Campaign Manager, who was Appointed to Head FEMA and Presided over a legacy of neglect at the agency. Like David Safavian, who was appointed to head the government’s procurement office with no experience and was later arrested for lying to the FBI, Michael Brown was appointed to run FEMA without the requisite experience. According to Time, “this [second] Bush Administration had a plan from day one for remaking the bureaucracy, and has done so with greater success. As far back as the Florida recount, soon-to-be Vice President Dick Cheney was poring over organizational charts of the government with an eye toward stocking it with people sympathetic to the incoming Administration…Bush has gone further than most Presidents to put political stalwarts in some of the most important government jobs you’ve never heard of, and to give them genuine power over the bureaucracy. Some of the appointments are raising serious concerns in the agencies themselves and on Capitol Hill about the competence and independence of agencies that the country relies on to keep us safe, healthy and secure.” [Time Magazine, 10/3/05]

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Time To Circle The Wagons?

The Bu$h Administration is under attack...Look for more to unravel from now through February. This won't go away, won't be acceptable, won't be managed and can't ignored. All the lipstick in the world won't make this pig more kissable...and if they revert to the old ways...Look for the terror alert to be raised...afterall... there's no legitimate way to defend their repeated pattern of intentionally breaking the law.

Al Gore responds to the idiot king's jester:
There are two problems with the Attorney General's effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration's behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.

Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs - even though factually wrong - ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Anybody Seen My Old Friend Martin?

'Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.'
I see Martin almost every day in the numerous Minnesotans that donate their time and services to make our community better. Martin is still here, all around us.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an opportunity to teach our children to fight evil, not people, to get in the habit of asking themselves, 'what is the most loving way I can resolve this conflict?' and to demostrate timeless values like courage. truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service. It provides us with the chance to show the single most important thing about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: 'His example of nonviolent action is the single most powerful, revolutionary force for social change in the world today'. King's values of nonviolence, including unconditional love, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation are so desperately needed today to help unify our country. These are the values that should radiately define all Americans and especially our children.

It's up to us as activists to ignite the spark of volunteerism in Minnesota's communities. Let's start by leading with example like King did and volunteer along with our family and friends within our local neighborhood. This is the way to honor the life and teachings of Dr. King. The best way to honor MLK is to volunteer.

Volunteer in Minnesota!

Be the Change

Some facts about volunteering...
56% of adults aged 18 or over volunteer.
More women (62%) volunteer than men.
Men give more time (20 minutes more per week) than women.
Volunteers average of 3.5 hours a week
90% will volunteer when asked.
Most volunteers find out about volunteer opportunities by personal contact with another volunteer.
Most volunteers are older (43% seniors)
41% of all volunteers are sporadic and consider it a onetime activity.
Those who volunteer time and services also make larger financial contributions on average than non-volunteers (shouldnĂ‚’t be a surprise!)
1% learned about volunteering via the internet so consider this is for them:

Work for social change!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Democrat=Rowley=Truth

"Irresponsible"?
"The irresponsible Republicans have run the economy into a deficit ditch, abandoned millions of our jobs to other countries, wallowed in a culture of corruption financed by the likes of Jack Abramoff, eavesdropped on American citizens without warrants and led us into a quagmire of death in Iraq. The most responsible thing Democrats like me can do is take back the House and Senate in 2006 by speaking the truth all the way"
Coleen Rowley (MN CD2) Candidate for Congress at HuffingtonPost.com

$400 Billion Is Not A Joke

It's arrogant beyond belief that the GOP administration can bankrupt American of it's values both morally and fiscally and yet continue to brag about it 'not being as bad as we expected'. Boasting about failing accomplishments and 'spinning' that failure is just plain wrong.

The Bu$h administration saying they 'performed better than expected' means little of nothing. The reality is: Did they performed up to established standards? And the answer gives them failing grades...as there's no spinning a $400 Billion deficit. !

This is the third straight year in which the White House has summoned reporters well ahead of the official budget release to project a higher-than-anticipated deficit. In the past two years, when final deficit figures have come in at record or near-record levels, White House officials have boasted that they had made progress, since the final numbers were below estimates. Washington Post
"This administration has a history of overestimating the deficit early in the year, lowering expectations, then taking credit when it comes in below forecast," said Stanley E. Collender, a federal budget expert at Financial Dynamics Business Communications. "It's not just a history. It's almost an obsession."
It's not 'almost an obsession' and it's not a joke, it's a serious flaw in the GOP administration that they refuse to acknowledge not making the grade while pretending to have aced the test. Unfortunately, all of America will be held behind for decades to come because of their irresponsible actions.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Coleen Rowley: Truth To Power

Wow- wonderful- I couldn't agree more.

A person who is willing to speak truth to power is a rare thing, a woman who was intimately involved in the defense of our nation who is willing to potently criticize this administration is rarer still, but this is the gift we have been given in Coleen Rowley an FBI agent, a time woman of the year, someone with a different perspective who in the Hackett mold will be able to talk about counter-terrorism having been on the front lines unlike the sidelines. The district skews slightly Republican but as an Ex-Republican and a woman she will be able to gather the needed cross-over votes if we can give her the early support.
www.coleenrowley.com


Posted up in Democraticavenger Diary on MyDD...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Had Enough?

In case you missed the Deanster take on Blitzer...
Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal.
Republican scandal. Republican disgrace. Republican crimes.
Republican Republican Republican Republican Republican Republican...

Do you get it now?
Upper Left gets it.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Dear Chairman Dean, Thank You!

Say what you will...Dean as DNC Chair is the best thing that's happen to the Democrats in a long, long time...

Dean Crushes Blitzer On Abramoff Politics

Oh, baby. Stop what you're doing and watch this video clip (via Atrios). Howard Dean leaves Wolf Blitzer sputtering.

I'll be back later with a transcript.

UPDATE: Ok, here's my transcript, but watch the video if you can to get the full effect.

BLITZER: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who's now pleaded guilty to bribery charges among other charges, a Republican lobbyist in Washington — should the Democrats who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?

DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff. Not one. Not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican, every person under investigation is a Republican, every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money, and we've looked through all those FEC reports to make sure that's true.

BLITZER: [Stammering] But through various Abramoff-related organizations, and outfits, a bunch of Democrats did take money that presumably originated with Jack Abramoff.

DEAN: That's not true either. There's no evidence for that either, there's no evidence...

BLITZER: What about Senator, what about, what about, what about Senator Byron Dorgan?

DEAN: Senator Byron Dorgan and some others took money from Indian tribes. They're not agents of Jack Abramoff. There's no evidence that I've seen that Jack Abramoff directed any contributions to Democrats. I know the Republican National Committee would like to get the Democrats involved in this. They're scared. They should be scared. They haven't told the truth, and they have misled the American people, and now it appears they're stealing from Indian tribes. The Democrats are not involved in this.

BLITZER: [Long pause, apparently getting direction in his earpiece] [Sigh] Unfortunately, we, uh, Mr. Chairman, we've got to leave it right there.

When Silence Isn't Golden

I got mailing from Congressman John Kline (MN-R) about supporting parents and protecting children. It was a four page glossy piece of fluffy non recycleable crap that had some very cute kids on it but didn't address some of the real issues facing our country. It was flaunting in it's self promotion and propaganda...all paid for by...Taxpayers!

It's past time for John Kline to address the current corrupt culture in DC and the role the GOP (and Kline) has played. Silence is not golden...

John Kline's silence is deafening

Jack Abramoff, the disgraced long-time Washington insider who pleaded guilty to corruption, has been referred to by Congressman Tom DeLay, who has himself been indicted, as one of his "closest and dearest friends."

Tom DeLay has troubles of his own, as Abramoff stated in a Newsweek article, April 18 issue, regarding the financing of overseas trips by Abramoff, a violation of ethics rules, 'DeLay knew everything. He knew all the details."

Meanwhile, Congressman Kline, MN-02, has been silent on the blatant corruption in Congress. Why?

One answer could be John Kline has taken $30,000 from Tom DeLay's ARMPAC, and has voted with Tom DeLay 96% of the time between Jan. 1, 2004 and March 31, 2005.

Furthermore, John Kline voted to weaken the ethics rules in a move that many say served only to protect Tom DeLay. [Vote to weaken ethics rules: H Res. 5, Roll Call #6, 1/4/05]

Following the guilty pleas by Abramoff to fraud charges, there has been a rush by politicians to return money given them by him. 'John Kline should return the $30,000 he was given by Tom DeLay," said Coleen Rowley, candidate for congress, MN-02. This money is tainted, and John Kline will be beholden to Tom DeLay and covering up DeLay's misdeeds as long as it is in his bank account."

'Our elected officials are a reflection of who we are as citizens," Rowley continued. 'We deserve a congressperson who does the right thing and votes to protect the interests of the second district, not someone who votes to cover-up the misdeeds of corrupt congressional members," Rowley said.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Karma...

It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left. Our job is to remove them from power permanently. --Jack Abramoff in 1983
kar·ma -noun- [Sanskrit, kwer- Indo-European Roots.]

1. Deeds, actions that has consequences
2. Hinduism & Buddhism. The total effect of a person's actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person's existence, regarded as determining the person's destiny.
3. Fate; destiny.
...the day Jack lands in jail, look me up, we'll toast to the fat laughing buddha and his sister karma. I'm buying .

Go Go Blogzillas!

It's a fight between Minnesota blogzillas.
Two local MN bloggers with apparently oversized political egos in a legal mud match. Our blog previously posted on this here and here.
A good summary with more details was posted up today on mnpACT!'s blog:

The libel lawsuit that Blois Olson has brought against the Minnesota Democrats Exposed blogger, Michael Brodkorb, is one of those legal actions in which you wish they could both lose.
I have to agree, I wouldn't feel comfortable standing on either side or rooting for/against either one. Unfortunately both seem intent on hurting Democrats regardless of their political leanings. PDW58 summed it up best:
So there you have it... a Democratic operative who beats up Democratic candidates suing a Republican operative who will say anything, do anything, and dig up anything that can hurt Democratic candidates.

A legal match made in heaven ... or hell, depending on your perspective.
Game On!

Bu$h Uses Blatant Cronyism For Appointments

Bu$h made series of recess appointments Wednesday evening including a slew of cronies and hacks the president couldn't manage to get through a senate controlled by his own party!

Here's the list posted at the White House. Some of the nominees that Bu$h bypassed the Senate to install is former Navy Secretary Gordon R. England as deputy secretary of defense and Julie L. Myers as assistant secretary of homeland security for immigration and customs enforcement. 17 appointments in all.

Many members of his own party have voiced their concerns over the complete lack of qualifications for some of these appointees. (Can you say Brown?!) As far as I can tell the only real qualifications that Bu$h demands for any position within our government is blind unquestioning loyalty to him and a hefty donation to the cause.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Pawlenty - Tax, Fee Or More Beep, Beep

Minnesota's Governor Pawlenty has a plan to help crack down on illegal immigration in Minnesota. The Pawlenty foolish plan is about as real as one of the plots from the Roadrunner-Wiley Coyote cartoon!
Pawlenty’s the plotting Wiley Coyote who unveils his double secret ACME gear to catch the illegal immigrant Roadrunner and then…oh heck…we all know how the story ends…beep, beep.
Did I mention that Minnesotans will be picking up the cost for the ACME illegal immigrant catcher missile? Tax, Fee or Beep Beep.

Play along is it a New Tax, Fee or Beep, Beep?
--Create a MN Enforcement Team (paid for by what?)
--Allow new 10 Officer Team to enforce state and federal law (paid for by what? Doesn't INS have task forces?)
--Prohibit 'sanctuary laws' (Is the INS going away? We have so much money we can duplicate efforts?)
--Enact new and increased penalties for human trafficking and False IDs.(At what cost? Who pays? Does this stop the activity? Do criminals pay these types of penalties? Is your underaged son/daughter with a fake ID trying to buy beer going to facing felony charges?)
--Record the country of citizenship and immigration status of suspects arrested in serious crimes.(Why not convicted of serious crimes instead of just suspects? And how will this be used? How will it make us any safer since it's after the crime?)
--Impose fines of up to $5000 on employers of illegal immigrants.(Is that each immigrant? What's in place now? What will it cost to enforce this? What if the illegals present fake IDs to the business? What will be the limits? How will this impact MN business?)
--Noncitizens immigration status on Driver licenses.(And this does what? Will it make roads safer to drive? Won't it make illegals who now have a license and drive to work/school/store... more likely to bypass learning driver laws, passing a test, and getting a license...and to just get fake driver IDs?)

Just how costly is it to built and maintain prisons? How much resources does our legal system take away from other areas like education? What kind of message are we sending in regards to tolerances and acceptance?

Speak Melendez To Me (2)

Governor Pawlenty just doesn't get it. He's self destructing by wanting to bat around wedge issues like immigration instead of addressing real problems facing our community and state on a daily bases like health care, jobs, and the rising costs education. It's like wanting to fund the stadium with public monies when you don't fully fund education and cut health care.

Minnesotans are not taken in by such self serving behavior. The last two elections saw even rural voters want to address the issues that will affect their families, neighbors and community, not spin wedge issues touted solely for partisan politics. I couldn't put it any better than Brian...
STATEMENT OF MINNESOTA DFL CHAIR BRIAN MELENDEZ
ST. PAUL (1/3/06) – "While immigration is an issue worthy of discussion, the governor should be expending as much vigor on the issues that are most important to Minnesotans.

"Last month, St. Cloud State University released a survey ranking the top 28 issues most important to Minnesotans. Immigration didn't even figure in the survey. The issues most important to Minnesotans are the issues that Democrats will be talking about: education, health care, jobs, transportation, energy and the environment.

"Evidently the governor and the White House are planning on using wedge issues again. Last cycle, it was gay marriage. This year, it's immigration. You can campaign on these issues, but you can't govern on them."

Coleen Rowley on MSNBC's Hardball Wednesday

Following Jack Abramoff's plea bargain, MSNBC's Hardball has moved Coleen Rowley to Wednesday 6PM (CST) to cover the breaking story of Abramoff's guilty plead to three felonies and what his plea bargain means for the GOP (Get out of Prison?).

From the Rowley Campaign:
This development has far reaching implications that will define 2006's political climate, so I encourage you to watch both programs. Moreover, this story further illustrates how Coleen's stated commitment to ethical decision-making is needed now more than even in government.


Morals and Ethics
Now more than ever!

Monday, January 02, 2006

US Opposed to 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, A Deadly Legacy

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a comic book about the dangers of playing near or with land mines and given the current US opposition to a land mine ban, we’ll need to print lots more of them.

After reading Eyeteeth blog about the US opposition to banning landmines, I went back through my comic book collection…and sure enough, there it was, my 1996 Superman: Deadly Legacy, Bosnia Edition #1, a DC comic published in cooperation with the US Department of Defense and UNICEF.

It’s the first of two comic books warning children in Bosnia and Herzegovina about the dangers of land mines where estimates say 4 to 6 million landmines remain buried today. The second comic is in Spanish,released to Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica in 1998, is twice a long as the first, contains stickers, signs and a quiz, It also directs young readers to place stickers on sites were land mines are hidden. Both feature Superman and the second also has Wonder Woman, but each has the same message. Beware, Be Careful, Be Safe. Even when Superman can’t be here, you can keep yourself save from landmines! (And you'll have too as the United States has decided not to sign on to the ban of these deadly devices!)

Landmines are very bad news for children as they are closer to the ground and smaller, their injuries from mines are likely to be more substantial than adults. Some land mines such as ‘butterfly’ mines lure children with their attractive, toy like appearance. "I know they look like fun," says Superman as he sweeps up two boys before they can pick up a couple of mines. "But even if they haven't gone off doesn't mean they won't -- at any time!"

And they do, with appalling frequency. About 800 people are killed by landmines every month, 40 per cent of them children. "A landmine is a perfect soldier," the UNICEF State of the World's Children 1996 report quotes a Khmer Rouge general as saying. "Ever courageous, never sleeps, never misses." And once laid, an anti-personnel mine can remain active for as long as 50 years.

Land mines are shattering the lives of children with more than 115 million unexploded mines buried in the ground around the world. The United Nations says the mines kill and mutilate up to 10,000 children every year. Adding to the peril is the lack of functioning hospitals and other nearby medical treatment facilities. As a result, some land mine injuries that should have been treatable result in fatalities.

There’s a 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Anti-personnel mines and other destruction (1997 Mine Ban Treaty). It has the agreement of 150 different counties including the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the United States is not one of them. In Bush’s isolationist ‘we don’t need to show any stinking international cooperation and assistance’ mode, the United States has refused to ban these destructive devices.

Instead of taking the lead and ending this deadly practice, the United States wish children well by forming school curriculums with plays, puppet shows and songs about the dangers of landmines. Sure do all the above but do it while banning the use of these deadly mines!

While the rest of the world leads by signing on to a treaty banning land mines, we produce comic books telling them: "They still can be heroes, even without superpowers," the Man of Steel tells a crowd of adults and children in the last frame of the comic book, as he lifts off for adventures unknown. "The only superpower they need is the power of knowledge."

If only that were true! If the power of knowledge was so strong - the United States would be leading the charge against the use of land mines instead of standing in the way. We keep treating the symptoms and not the causes. Every 22 minutes of every day there is another victim, a life lost or a life destroyed.

Superman would expect more from Americans to protect children and end this deadly practice.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Seven Deadly Sins To Aviod This Year

Politics without principle.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Knowledge without character.
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Worship without sacrifice.
Mahatma Gandhi listed Seven Deadly Social Sins that he considered to be most spiritually damaging to humanity. The list is more relevant today than when he wrote it more than a half century ago. Gandhi's remarkable words say it all,er... well...All except...

Want a Better World?
Vote For Democrats!
Here's to a better coming year, cheers,
Democratically yours, The TruthSurfer

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