Monday, December 31, 2007

FEATURE: Health Insurance, What is Reasonable?


A true story regarding America’s healthcare system. There is a range I see: the poor with no health coverage, working class with employee based insurance, and the wealthy possessing access to necessary in addition to elective, cosmetic procedures. Conservatives state that families should use their own resources in health care. I do not agree but let us entertain this view for this true circumstance. Paying monthly premiums for health insurance is an expression of such a resource. I ask then what role then do insurance companies have to deny coverage for a life extending procedure. What is reasonable? Should the government play a role in assuring insurance holders and patient rights? If and precisely in this true case a family (or individual) has health insurance but are denied claim to a procedure improving the quality of or the extension of life, there is fact supporting drastic changes in America’s profit driven health car system. -A.T. Brooks

“Every presidential candidate whose health plan rewards the health insurance companies by giving them more business via mandates needs to rethink that approach.

The lawyer for California teen Nataline Sarkisyan charged today that the only reason Cigna Health Care officials changed their minds and approved a liver transplant for the desperate girl was they knew it was too late and they wouldn't have to pay for it.

Sarkisyan, 17, died Thursday just hours after Cigna reversed its decision and approved the procedure it had previously described as "too experimental…and unproven." Now the Sarkisyan family hopes manslaughter or murder charges will be pressed.
Their lawyer, Mark Geragos, says he will refer the case to prosecutors for possible criminal charges against the insurer, Cigna HealthCare.

"All of the doctors there unanimously agreed that she needed and should have that liver transplant. And the only entity, if you will, who said no to that in the middle of that medical decision, was some piece of garbage who decided that making a couple of dollars, or saving them a couple of dollars, was worth more than the 65% chance over six months that she would survive," said Geragos.

I've been locked with my own battle with Blue Shield over what is really a minor (still unresolved) health issue, those who need far more expensive care as they fight for their lives are in far worse shape, and people are dying as a result.
A system that replaces the judgement of doctors for that of accountants is inherently broken and must be scrapped.

These Cigna execs should be charged with manslaughter or the murder of Nataline, while a more comprehensive solution to the nation's health care crisis must ensure that a for-profit health care system be scrapped for one that puts the health of the people first.
Every presidential candidate whose health plan rewards the health insurance companies by giving them more business via mandates needs to rethink that approach.

The lawyer for California teen Nataline Sarkisyan charged today that the only reason Cigna Health Care officials changed their minds and approved a liver transplant for the desperate girl was they knew it was too late and they wouldn't have to pay for it.

Sarkisyan, 17, died Thursday just hours after Cigna reversed its decision and approved the procedure it had previously described as "too experimental…and unproven." Now the Sarkisyan family hopes manslaughter or murder charges will be pressed.
Their lawyer, Mark Geragos, says he will refer the case to prosecutors for possible criminal charges against the insurer, Cigna HealthCare.

"All of the doctors there unanimously agreed that she needed and should have that liver transplant. And the only entity, if you will, who said no to that in the middle of that medical decision, was some piece of garbage who decided that making a couple of dollars, or saving them a couple of dollars, was worth more than the 65% chance over six months that she would survive," said Geragos.

I've been locked with my own battle with Blue Shield over what is really a minor (still unresolved) health issue, those who need far more expensive care as they fight for their lives are in far worse shape, and people are dying as a result.
A system that replaces the judgement of doctors for that of accountants is inherently broken and must be scrapped.

These Cigna execs should be charged with manslaughter or the murder of Nataline, while a more comprehensive solution to the nation's health care crisis must ensure that a for-profit health care system be scrapped for one that puts the health of the people first. (daily kos)”

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated


Did Musharraf allow this to happen? Will Bhutto’s assassination be the last fallen domino which shatters efforts to spread democracy in Islamic nations?

"RAWALPINDI, Pakistan December 27, 2007, 10:00 a.m. ET · Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, aides said.
The death of the 54-year-old charismatic former prime minister threw the campaign for the Jan. 8 parliamentary elections into chaos and created fears of mass protests and violence across the nuclear-armed nation, an important U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.
The attacker struck just minutes after Bhutto addressed thousands of supporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, 8 miles south of Islamabad. She was shot in the neck and chest by the attacker, who then blew himself up, said Rehman Malik, Bhutto's security adviser.
At least 20 others were killed in the attack.
Bhutto was rushed to the hospital and taken into emergency surgery.
"At 6:16 p.m., she expired," said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto's party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital.
"The surgeons confirmed that she has been martyred," Bhutto's lawyer Babar Awan said.
Bhutto's supporters at the hospital exploded in anger, smashing the glass door at the main entrance of the emergency unit. Others burst into tears. One man with a flag of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party tied around his head was beating his chest.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack. But some of Bhutto's supporters at the hospital began chanting, "Killer, Killer, Musharraf," referring to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Bhutto's main political opponent. A few began stoning cars outside.
"We repeatedly informed the government to provide her proper security and appropriate equipment including jammers, but they paid no heed to our requests," Malik said.
Nawaz Sharif, another former premier and opposition leader, arrived at the hospital and sat silently next to Bhutto's body.
Hours earlier, four people were killed at a rally for Sharif when his supporters clashed with backers of Musharraf near Rawalpindi.
Bhutto's death will leave a void at the top of her party, the largest political group in the country, as it heads into the parliamentary elections. It also fueled fears that the crucial vote could descend into violence.
Pakistan is considered a vital U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists including the Taliban. Osama bin Laden and his inner circle are believed to be hiding in lawless northwest Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan.
In Washington, the State Department condemned the attack.
"It demonstrates that there are still those in Pakistan who want to subvert reconciliation and efforts to advance democracy," deputy spokesman Tom Casey said.
The United States has for months been encouraging Musharraf to reach an accommodation with the opposition, particularly Bhutto, who was seen as having a wide base of support in Pakistan. Her party had been widely expected to do well in next month's elections.
Educated at Harvard and Oxford universities, Bhutto served twice as Pakistan's prime minister between 1988 and 1996. Her father, who also served as prime minister, was executed in 1979 two years after his ouster in a military coup.
Bhutto had returned to Pakistan from an eight-year exile on Oct. 18. On the same day, she narrowly escaped injury when her homecoming parade in Karachi was targeted in a suicide attack that killed more than 140 people.
At the scene of Thursday's bombing, an Associated Press reporter saw body parts and flesh scattered at the back gate of the Liaqat Bagh park, where Bhutto had spoken. He counted about 20 bodies, including police, and could see many other wounded people.
Party supporter Chaudry Mohammed Nazir said two gunshots rang out when Bhutto's vehicle pulled into the main street. Then there was a big blast next to her car.
Police cordoned off the street with white and red tape, and rescuers rushed to put victims in ambulances as people wailed nearby.
The clothing of some victims was shredded and people put party flags over their bodies. Police caps and shoes littered the asphalt.
Hundreds of riot police had manned security checkpoints around the venue. It was Bhutto's first public meeting in Rawalpindi since she came back to the country.
In November, Bhutto had also planned a rally in the city, but Musharraf forced her to cancel it, citing security fears.
In recent weeks, suicide bombers have repeatedly targeted security forces in Rawalpindi, where Musharraf stays and the Pakistan army has its headquarters."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What They Said in 2000

Politicians say lots of things in their campaign speeches. You expect them to give a list of reasons why they would be better than their opponent. So, when George W. Bush became the Republican nominee for President in 2000, it was not surprising that he would declare in his acceptance speech all the ways that he would be a better President than Al Gore. No, the surprising part is how ironically things turned out.

Look at some of the things W said when he got the GOP nomination in 2000:

  • We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, "Not ready for duty, sir." This administration had its moment, they had their chance, they have not led. We will.
  • Our generation has a chance to reclaim some essential values, to show we have grown up before we grow old. But when the moment for leadership came, this administration did not teach our children, it disillusioned them. They had their chance. They have not led. We will.
  • A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming.
  • I believe in tolerance, not in spite of my faith, but because of it. I believe in a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors but to love them.
  • That background may lack the polish of Washington. Then again, I don't have a lot of things that come with Washington. I don't have enemies to fight. I have no stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years. I want to change the tone of Washington to one of civility and respect.
  • After all of the shouting and all of the scandal, after all the bitterness and broken faith, we can begin again.
  • So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.
And there was also this ironic observation by Dick Cheney when he accepted the Republican nomination for Vice-President in 2000:
  • In Washington today, politics has become war by other means, an endless onslaught of accusation.

Considering these words after 7 years of their mis-administration, I have to give them their due. Heckuva job, Dick and W! Mission Accomplished!

http://jeffersonsparlor.blogspot.com

Friday, December 14, 2007

Clinton's Power




I usually agree with Lou Dobbs but on the matter who will be the next president of the USA his flopping in the wind is inconsistent. Hilary Clinton is without question the strongest candidate for president our nation has seen in decades. She has survived continuous attacks by the conservative establishment. She is also right for America at this time. Fact is fact which leads me to know that America in 2008 is not yet ready to put Barrack H. Obama in the White House. This is precisely why the right wing machine has literally called off criticism of him if not outright campaigning on his behalf. Republicans whom I currently oppose to govern are clearly conscious of this: the same America that elected George W. Bush twice will never put an African American named Barrack H. Obama during war times behind the Oval Office.

“Friday, December 14, 2007 – Lou DobbsTonight: A remarkable turn of events in the race for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations. Sen. Hillary Clinton has tumbled from a commanding lead in several early primary states being tied—and in some polls trailing—rival Sen. Barack Obama. On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee has surged from polling around 3 percent in July to the high 20s now. What’s going on? We’ll have all the latest from around the country.”

Spy, Spy on your phone.

There is an evolving issue surrounding the corporation of telecommunications companies in spying in on American’s phone records. Frankly, let the people know what went on. Please Contact Congress with your opinion.

“Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that did not include retroactive immunity. Immunity would let telecommunication companies who broke the law helping the Bush Administration spy on Americans off the hook.

Now, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader, is using procedural tricks to make this bill irrelevant by bringing the Intelligence Committee's version of the same bill to the Senate floor instead. What's the big difference? This version of the bill includes retroactive immunity for telecommunication companies.”

Does AP have an agenda?

Certain media outlets are certainly out stepping their role in informing the public of news in addition to presenting agendas in an attempt to guide and create news where there is none.

For example this is the opening sentence in a recent news story “By MELINDA DESLATTE of the Associated Press.

BATON ROUGE, La. - Two students were found shot to death in a home invasion at a Louisiana State University apartment, and officials decided to keep the campus open Friday while police searched for three suspects. “ DESLATTE instead of reporting the story, immediately renders a judgment call upon the decision of officials. Personally I would like to hear the news not second guesses by unqualified reporters during an involving situation.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071214/ap_on_re_us/lsu_students_slain

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Black Voters Prefer Clinton


According to a new study, Hillary Clinton has a slight edge over Barack Obama in the eyes of black voters.


Farai Chideya talks with David Bositis, senior policy analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which released the study.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Scientists Develop Life-Extending Compounds


The scientists who discovered resveratrol, a substance in red wine that extends the lives of mice, say they've developed three drugs that work the same way, but much more powerfully. The most potent of the three controls blood sugar; it is also believed to fight other diseases of aging.
Sales of red wine took a big jump last year after researchers at Harvard published a study on resveratrol. The study showed that large doses of resveratrol helped obese mice live as long as regular mice. The substance also let the mice run longer on a treadmill. And it seemed to prevent a range of diseases associated with aging.


According to David Sinclair, the lead researcher, there was one snag for those looking to uncork a bottle of Pinot Noir to stay young.
"You would need to drink about 1,000 bottles of red wine to get the amount of resveratrol in your body to even have a chance of seeing those benefits," he said.


So Sinclair and a team of researchers have been searching for something like resveratrol, but more powerful.


They came up with three contenders and published a study of the compounds' effects in this week's issue of the journal Nature. All three were tested in rodents. Sinclair said they triggered the same set of chemical reactions in cells – the same chemical pathway – as resveratrol did.
"The best one in this paper is 1,000 times better at activating this anti-aging pathway than resveratrol is, which is great news," he said. "It means that we can potentially have a small pill that would treat many of the diseases of the Western world."


The list could include maladies such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease.


The new compounds are the property of Sirtris, a company that Sinclair helped start. Unlike with resveratrol, which occurs naturally and is sold as a dietary supplement, Sirtris will need FDA approval to market the compounds.


"We're moving away from this molecule in red wine toward real drug discovery, pharmaceutical and rational drug design that most of the drugs we take these days come from," Sinclair said.
And drugs have to be approved to treat a specific disease. So the new study took the most potent new compound and studied its effect on mice and rats with diabetes.


The researchers found that it controlled blood sugar as well as a widely used diabetes drug.


Sinclair believes the compound also will work against other diseases of aging, including cancer.
Less sure is Dr. Randall Holcombe, the chief of hematology and oncology at the University of California-Irvine. He did an experiment comparing pure resveratrol to a powder made from grapes. The goal was to reduce the risk of colon cancer.


"We actually found that the grape powder was more effective than pure resveratrol," Holcombe said, "and that suggested that resveratrol is more active in combination with other compounds such as grapes than it is all by itself."


Holcombe says that raises the possibility that Sinclair's super-resveratrol compounds, by themselves, won't do much to prevent cancer.
Despite the lingering questions, Steven Helfand of Brown University says the research based on resveratrol does seem awfully promising.
"The surprising thing really is how well this molecule has worked so far," Helfand said. He added that he has mixed feelings about the research moving away from dietary supplements and toward more traditional drug development.


On the plus side, he said, the need for FDA approval ensures that any new products will get rigorous testing.
"I think the public should be pleased in that sense. The correct experiments will be done and the correct scrutiny will be given to these compounds," Helfand said. "They will now be scrutinized much more so than they were before."


The downside, Helfand said, is that any product to emerge from this research probably won't be cheap.


David Sinclair said that so far, his company has had no trouble raising money, despite the risk that no drug may ever emerge from the tests.
"The payoff is huge," Sinclair said. "Even diabetes in itself is roughly a $10 billion worldwide market. Some say even higher. And that's just one disease."


Sinclair said the first major studies of resveratrol used on people won't be published until next year. Human studies of the newer, more powerful compounds are even further off."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Our Ahab-In-Chief

How like Captain Ahab is our Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush. Ignoring all counsel, all protests, and all misadventures, he drives on, obsessed with the quest of his White Whale.

What is his White Whale? He calls it “Terror”. It’s not a specific terrorist group. It is “Terror”. His pursuit of it is a “Global War”. For when “Terror” burned the World Trade Center it figuratively scarred his face and chewed on his leg. Now it must be hunted down and slain, regardless of the cost to our Ship of State and to the lives of those who depend upon it.

And there have been costs, dear costs:

  • Thousands of our soldiers have lost their lives, and thousands more have grievous wounds.
  • Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed, injured, and forced to flee their homes.
  • Our military has been ground down, to the point that its readiness has been compromised.
  • Our financial future has been gambled, to the point that our currency is worth less and less.
  • The price of oil has skyrocketed, and remains at the mercy of mostly hostile foreign powers.

For all of this, his “Terror” has not been eliminated. So our Ahab-in-Chief insists we stay the course. He demands continued funding, its use to be subject to his whim. He demands respect for his captaincy, to the sacrifice of all restraint and reason, even though he has shown poor judgment time and again. It’s not “defeatist” to say this will lead to ruin. It is prophecy based on bitter experience.

Alex Budarin

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Permanently in Iraq‏

Have you seen the headlines? President Bush is quietly negotiating an agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to keep our troops there indefinitely--an agreement that could include permanent bases and a massive military presence for years!1 Bush is trying to tie the hands of the next administration to keep us in Iraq for the foreseeable future.2
This is a pivotal moment—the agreement is still in the planning stages and if we don't act now, we could be stuck in Iraq for decades.

It's critical to push Democrats into opposing this. Right now, President Bush's troop reduction plan has fooled some people into thinking we're headed toward an exit in Iraq—but this move makes it clear he's literally committing the U.S. to a war with no end. It's an extreme policy and Congress can stop it—but whether they do depends on how loud we are.

Can you sign the petition demanding that Congress act to stop the president from committing to a massive military presence in Iraq for decades? We'll deliver your comments to your representatives by the end of the week—there's no time to waste. Clicking here will add your name:

http://pol.moveon.org/endless/o.pl?id=11723-3446513-7uL.S0&t=3

Are National Democrats blowing off Florida?

"Florida Democrats are being boycotted by their party's presidential candidates, leaving many voters in the nation’s largest swing state feeling alienated. "

"Orlando -- On the final Friday of a parched and quarrelsome October, Florida Democrats were bumping around a hallway in Disney's faux-elegant Yacht and Beach Club Resort on the opening night of their state convention, perusing campaign items for sale (three Hillary buttons for $5!), sussing out the evening's schedule ("The progressives are supposed to be having a party, but where are they?") and, mostly, grousing about the conspicuous absence of presidential candidates.

"This whole thing here is a joke," said John Taylor, a hulking schoolteacher from Jacksonville wearing the tallest, most bodacious Chef Boyardee-style, star-spangled red-white-and-blue hat you ever saw. "How stupid the Democrats are -- we're shooting ourselves in the foot!" Taylor angrily recalled some of the Republicans' tactics for suppressing the Democratic vote in 2000 and 2004. "They stole two elections, and now we've been working six years to make sure that don't happen again. And the Democrats screw us!"

"Forget that," his friend said. "You're beating a dead horse. I blame the candidates. You've got, what, ten or eleven of them? And not one of them shows up here?"

It's rumored that Mike Gravel will be in town tomorrow, I note (and he did appear, at the convention and an antiwar rally). "If he's here, that's where my vote is going," said the friend.
Not Taylor's. "I'm going to have to resign from the Duval [County] Democratic Party" -- he serves on its executive committee -- "just so that I can vote for somebody else. I'm going to vote Libertarian, probably. Or I might cross over and vote for Huckabee. My wife will kill me. She's the treasurer of the Duval Democratic Party! She retired from her job to work full time, for no money, for the Democrats. And I'm the man in the hat! But why not? What difference does it make? The Democrats don't care about us in Florida."

"I think it sucks," says Bob Matherne, a bearded middle-aged fellow in a Kucinich shirt. Matherne's been registering LGBT voters in Sarasota for months now, but daily headlines featuring the war between national and Florida Democrats have made it tough. "People don't understand the situation -- and neither do I, really. They're asking for clarification: 'What's going on? The Republicans aren't being penalized for the early primary. Why are we being penalized? Why would Democrats do this, already knowing about Florida's problems with voting?'"

Florida Democrats can surely be excused for feeling a wee bit put-upon -- and confused. Across town just the weekend before, 5,000 Florida Republicans had been dined, wined and wooed by their presidential candidates at a lavish event culminating in a debate aired on Fox. Meanwhile, Florida Democrats -- who'd planned to trump the Republican weekend with their own presidential extravaganza -- found themselves in the bizarre position of being boycotted by their candidates.

This strange saga began innocuously enough. Fearing likely attempts by big states like Michigan and Florida to disrupt the parties' primary calendars with early dates in 2008, Republicans and Democrats ruled at their 2004 conventions that states trying to butt in before Iowa and New Hampshire would lose half their delegates. The Republicans left it there. The Democrats decided to try and fix things. The Democratic National Committee's rules committee was tasked with bringing order to the chaotic primaries. Twelve states applied for two additional early primary slots, which were awarded earlier this year to South Carolina and Nevada. Democrats in other states could not vote before February 5.

That created a sticky situation for Florida Democrats when, to nobody's surprise, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed a law in May scheduling the state's primary for January 29. (In most states, primary dates are set by the parties.) The primary date was wrapped up in a bill mandating a paper trail for the 2008 election -- a popular measure the minority Democrats could not afford to oppose. Besides, the loss of delegates was largely a toothless penalty, since according to precedent the Democrats' eventual presidential nominee controls the seating of delegates -- and surely wouldn't alienate folks from the nation's largest swing state by turning them away.

But the DNC did not leave it there. In August the rules committee voted to strip all the state's delegates unless Florida came up with an alternative to the January 29 voting. "I understand Florida's dilemma," DNC rules committee member Donna Brazile told me later. "But this is not about states' rights; this is about a process we're trying to keep some control over." Two weeks after the DNC vote, Democratic chairs in the "First Four" primary states jacked up the ante with their notorious "four-state pledge" demanding the candidates focus exclusively on them. The signees -- including John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton -- agreed to do no campaigning in Florida or any other state that might try to jump the gun. And under party rules, "campaigning" means just about everything: e-mail messages; calls to voters; TV, radio or newspaper ads; rallies; hiring campaign workers; holding press conferences. The only thing Democrats are allowed to do in Florida -- where folks have been complaining for years, with some justification, about being used as an ATM for the party -- is fundraise.

As Florida Democrats bayed in protest, DNC chair Howard Dean salted their wounds by opining that their votes "essentially won't count." Almost overnight, the unsavory reputation Florida Republicans had earned during the riotous Gore v. Bush 2000 recount battle was relegated to ancient history, and the Republicans' sagging hopes of carrying Florida -- where Democrats scored big in the 2006 midterms -- were suddenly sky-high. "The Democrats like to talk about Republicans disenfranchising black voters in Florida," state GOP chair Jim Greer shouted happily at a Black Republicans soiree. "How many delegates will the Democrats be sending from Florida to their national convention? Zero!""

World AIDS Day: A Challenge to 'Speak Life'‏

Source: God's Politics Blog

"On Dec. 1, the world commemorates World AIDS Day, a day in which we pause and remember the 25 million lives lost to the deadly epidemic. The day also challenges us to redouble our efforts to show greater solidarity with the estimated 33 million people worldwide living with HIV. The day's slogan is "Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise". This is a direct appeal to governments, policy makers, and regional health authorities to ensure that they meet the litany of targets in the fight against HIV and AIDS - especially the promise agreed to at the 2005 G8 Summit of universal access to HIV treatment, care, support, and prevention services by 2010. The 2007 theme of "leadership" highlights the stark reality that without a revolution in political will the epidemic will continue to outpace even our best response.

Dec. 1 represents a day for remembering the 2.1 million people that lost their lives this year due to this preventable and treatable disease. While we are starting to win victories in increasing access to treatment we are still losing the war to prevent new infections. Reports still show an alarming concentration of infections in the southern third of Africa, with nations such as Swaziland and Botswana reporting as many as one in four adults infected with HIV. Even closer to home, statistics released last week in Washington, D.C., reveal a state of emergency in which one in 20 residents is HIV positive - with 80 percent of cases among black men, women, and adolescents. The report shatters the common myth that AIDS is predominantly a gay disease, as 37.4 percent of newly reported cases were due to heterosexual contact. Behind these sobering statistics are real lives, real families, and real people made in the image of God.

We can give thanks to the degree to which Christians, including evangelicals, have now embraced AIDS as an urgent and legitimate cause. This weekend Pastor Rick Warren is convening thousands of faith leaders from across the country and world for his annual Summit on AIDS and the Church. I applaud his leadership in shining a spotlight on the indispensable role of the church in the fight against AIDS. However, past conferences have often shied away from the political nature of this epidemic and failed to deliver a clear call for political action to address the systemic injustices that so often fuel it. We can celebrate major advances in global treatment due in large part to increased funding through the President's Emergency AIDS Plan and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Still, only 20 percent of people in need in the developing world currently have access. Thanks in large part to activism through the 2008 Stop AIDS campaign, all three leading Democratic Presidential candidates have agreed to a bold campaign promise to increase President Bush's pledge of $30 billion for AIDS prevention and treatment over the next five years to a figure more commensurate with the global need of $50 billion. Now we must pressure the Republican candidates to follow suit.

AIDS tests our faith as well as our humanity. Applying Matthew 25 to the contemporary age of AIDS, I believe God will also ask us "when I was living with HIV, did you love me, care for me, and use your prophetic voice to help stop the epidemic?"

The gospel music artist Donald Lawrence came out with a song last year titled "I Speak Life." As Christians we must speak life by loving and supporting people around us living with the virus. We can speak life by using our voices to challenge Congress and the Bush administration to make good on their promises to achieve universal access to treatment by the year 2010. We can speak life by breaking down the walls of stigma in our churches and communities, raising awareness, and encouraging testing. We can speak life by addressing the underlying injustices and issues that so often fuel the crisis of AIDS, including intravenous drug use, poverty, sexual violence, promiscuity, and infidelity.

An old African American Spiritual says it best:
Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work's in vain. But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again. There is balm in Gilead to heal the wounded soul. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul.

Adam Taylor is director of campaigns and organizing for Sojourners. "
http://blog.beliefnet.com/godspolitics/

Clinton - Summit on AIDS and the Church‏

Presidential contender was only candidate to speak at international AIDS summit.

By MARTIN WISCKOLThe Orange County Register

LAKE FOREST – Many evangelical Christians have taken issue with Hillary Clinton for promoting abortion rights, gay rights and teen condom use, but you wouldn't have known it from the standing ovation that greeted her at Saddleback Church on Thursday afternoon.
Although all leading presidential candidates were invited, Clinton was the only one to show up for the annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church. She delivered a bipartisan message that emphasized the role of the church in addressing AIDS.

"Twenty five years ago when people – mostly young gay men – started dying of an unnamed disease, we didn't talk about it in church," she said. "We've come a long way. Not only can we talk about AIDS in church, but churches can lead the way."

The three-day event leading up to World AIDS Day on Saturday is part of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren's global assault on the disease, with an approach that claims churches worldwide as the most capable network to address the problem.
Besides praising the efforts of Warren and his wife, Kay, Clinton acknowledged the efforts of the current administration.

"I will build … on the leadership President and Mrs. Bush have shown," she said. She has vowed, if elected, to double AIDS spending to $50 billion – a statement that drew applause this afternoon. Clinton also received a standing ovation when she finished her 30-minute speech.
Many in the audience remain opposed to candidates who favor abortion rights.
"From a theological point of view, it's very difficult to embrace abortion," said the Rev. Claude Terry, a 57-year-old Baptist minister from Modesto.

Then there were others who not only found common ground when it came to addressing AIDs, but also found Clinton to be an attractive candidate.

"Those partisan issues have no place when you're addressing a pandemic," said Mission Viejo's Christine Stevens, a 63-year-old Saddleback Church member – and a Republican considering voting for Clinton. "She understands the magnitude of the problem and what it will take to address it. I was very impressed by her."

http://www.ocregister.com/community/clinton-gets-standing-1930735-ovations-from

Banks Pay the Price for Risky Mortgage Bets

Opinion holds banks culpable for the current lending predicament of the United States. A common theme found throughout business where the main objective is profit without regard for what fees are reasonable, complicated stipulations, variable rate changes in addition to added cost to the costumer are the root causes. To articulate my view but in layman terms: banks charging excessive fees in addition to increasing rates to garner unreasonable profits is damaging the economy nationwide. The situation we have are two economically static industries (those producing a product where consumers have modest choices therefore lacking significant ability to control pricing through supply and demand i.e. gasoline and housing) simultaneously are seeking excessive profits removing fluidity of money and overall consumer buying power. The solution is for Business leaders to reel in their pricing models. This is the most practical action.

"Major banks are suffering enormous losses on investments tied to home mortgages. For years, Wall Street made handsome returns betting on mortgage-backed securities. But those securities are opaque and contain risks that investors were either unwilling or unable to recognize."

Army Captains Critique Iraq War

“Enough of this bumper-sticker patriotism. Do something about it or stop wasting my time.”Elizabeth Bostwick, ex-U.S. Army captain

"A dozen former U.S. Army captains wrote a column for The Washington Post last month entitled "The Real Iraq We Knew" in which they set out to describe the war they had experienced, instead of the one generals and politicians had described.

The officers' words have stirred controversy, with some critics calling them traitors. But that hasn't stopped them from speaking out.

In the op-ed piece, published on the fifth anniversary of the authorization of military force in Iraq, the 12 captains wrote that they had "seen the corruption and the sectarian division."
"We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out," they said.

"Captain is a unique position in the Army because you are really a cog at the center of it all," said Jason Blindauer, a veteran of five years in the Army, including three deployments to Iraq. "As we used to say, you can see the asses of the generals and the faces of the privates."
But a $35,000 retention bonus could not keep these captains in, even though at the outset they had been deeply committed to the military.

"There is no job that I ever wanted to do other than being a military officer," Blindauer said. "As far as the prospect of going to war with Iraq, I was excited about it. I was a young infantry officer with the opportunity to go to war."

Jeff Bouldin served in the Army for four years and in Iraq for 14 months. Like most of the 12 captains, he initially supported the invasion, but gradually became disillusioned with the leaders in charge of the war.

"The tactics we used and the overall goals in every province I served in had no semblance to any military logic that I had ever known," he said.

Then there was the prospect of repeated deployments without much time in between for family.
"I had a young family," Bouldin said. "I had a son who was 24 months old and I had seen him for four months of his entire life."

Blindauer and Bouldin are talking in Elizabeth Bostwick's Dallas apartment. Bostwick spent four years in the Army.

"I believed in my mission and beyond that I tried not to think about it," Bostwick said.
She said she tried not to think beyond her own security mission with the Military Police. Even though she comes from a military family, she wasn't gung-ho about the war.
"Knowing that the preponderance of your peer group is home shopping, having stable relationships not interrupted by deployments … it's disheartening," Bostwick said. "You're saying enough of this bumper-sticker patriotism. Do something about it or stop wasting my time."

To the group of 12, doing something about it means signing up to serve, and they suggest that a draft may be necessary. Jason Blindauer quotes German military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz, saying a country has to have both the strength of means and the strength of will to win a war.

"We don't have a military large enough to conduct the long-duration, low-intensity wars, and we haven't harnessed the collective will of the American people. So what good is it?" Blindauer said.
Luis Montalvan, who currently resides in Brooklyn, N.Y., joined the Army when he was 17 and stayed in for 17 years. He did two tours in Iraq. Montalvan angrily disagrees with the many bloggers who say the 12 captains ignore the apparent success of the recent troop surge.
"What has the government of Iraq done? It has done nothing, so it doesn't matter how many tactical successes you have if you're not having any strategic successes."

Montalvan says the 12 have no political agenda; most are independents. The captains believe that current American strategy is simply arming and training Sunni and Shite militias for a future civil war. Montalvan, who worked closely with Iraqis on both his deployments, said he is disgusted with the level of corruption he witnessed. Even worse, he said, is American inaction in the face of it.

"There is still no Iraqi-American anticorruption action plan. This corruption is feeding, sustaining the sectarian divide."

On his first tour in Iraq in 2003, Montalvan worked on the Iraq-Syrian border with only 40 soldiers trying to watch over a major foreign entry point where corruption ruled. At one point things got nasty.

"Some men tried to assassinate me in December of '03 and they nearly succeeded," he said. "They were wielding knives and hand grenades, and I was injured. One of them was killed and the other was severely wounded but he staggered off."

Montalvan said he is "not altogether comfortable talking about it." He says it's something he's dealing with and will "probably deal with for sometime."
Some bloggers have called the 12 cowards and traitors.

"For those people who would rather thump their chests and say that these people don't know anything or that these people are cowards or anything along those lines, they can go to hell," he said.

When the interview was over, Montalvan went into his bathroom and got sick. He apologized, saying it may have been side effects of medications he was taking. But his friends said it was more likely the result of reliving painful events in Iraq."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Truth behind Obama

Why are conservative talking heads promoting Barrack Obama? The answer is simple; he is obviously beatable by several GOP presidential candidates. It is not simply his race but his name that will be an extreme handicap in a national election. Misplaced optimism has lost Democrats the White House for 8 years. Successful people will tell you they made it by doing what is practical. The right candidate for this time in America will bring success for the Party. The practical Democratic presidential nominee is Hilary R. Clinton.

Comments welcome.

Supporting President Hillary Clinton

Frankly the people of the USA don’t need a president that is simply perceived to be likeable. The nation needs leadership; I am confident Clinton is the strongest leader amongst all current democratic and republican presidential candidates.

Friends don’t vote for a President because you’d like to have dinner with them but vote for a president whom will address the issues facing our nation. Clinton has never changed her tune on healthcare in addition to issues relating to children and families. President Bush Jr. was and is seen to be a “likeable” person however what’s your opinion of his presidency?

The Clinton’s have a mandate to build a lasting legacy of quality leadership that could potentially set America back on the right course. If elected no one can question that Hilary Clinton would fight for the working class just as she is fighting tooth and nail to be elected. I have respect for her service.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Are nuclear weapons vital for our defense?

It is in my opinion that yes they are in a world where at least 2 nations possess nukes. There are only 2 solutions: complete control and elimination of nukes or the eventual development of such weapons by all nations in order to ward off attack from other nation states.

The spread of Democracy could also stage off nuclear conflicts. Such an ideology is often touted as foreign policy. I however believe this to be bolder dash obviously since the United States is the only country in history to deploy nukes.

Nuclear technology has the potential to be beneficial in energy, healthcare, and space exploration.

We must dissect the words “vital” and “beneficial”. Vital and necessary when faced with the realities of war. Beneficial they are not to a world on the edge of destroying itself.

A Positive Outlook Is Overrated

“I believe that there is no one right way to cope with all the pain of living. ... If we are prevented from coping in our own way, be it 'positive' or 'negative,' we function less well.”


"Many Americans insist that everyone have a positive attitude, even when the going gets rough. From the self-help bookshelves to the Complaint-Free World Movement, the power of positive thinking is touted now more than ever as the way to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.
The problem is that this demand for good cheer brings with it a one-two punch for those of us who cannot cope in that way: First you feel bad about whatever's getting you down, then you feel guilty or defective if you can't smile and look on the bright side. And I'm not even sure there always is a bright side to look on.

I believe that there is no one right way to cope with all of the pain of living. As an academic psychologist, I know that people have different temperaments, and if we are prevented from coping in our own way, be it "positive" or "negative," we function less well.
As a psychotherapist, I know that sometimes a lot of what people need when faced with adversity is permission to feel crummy for a while, to realize that feeling bad is not automatically the same as being mentally ill. Some of my one-session "cures" have come from reminding people that life can be difficult, and it's OK if we're not happy all of the time.

This last point first became apparent to me in 1986. I came down with the flu accompanied by searing headaches that lasted for weeks afterward. Eventually a neurologist told me that a strain of flu that winter had left many people with viral meningitis. He reassured me that I would make a full recovery, but I was left traumatized by the weeks of undiagnosed pain. I really thought I had a brain tumor or schizophrenia. Being a psychologist didn't help; I was an emotional wreck.
Fortunately it happened that my next-door neighbor was a brilliant psychiatrist, Aldo Llorente from Cuba. I asked him, "Aldo, am I a schizophrenic?"
"Professor," he pronounced, "you are a mess, but you are not a mentally ill mess. You are just terrified."

I told Aldo that two of my friends insisted that I cheer up. I tried to be cheerful for a week, but that only increased my distress. Aldo told me, "You say to them: 'Friends, I would like to be more cheerful, but right now I am too terrified to be cheerful. So I will let you know when I am not terrified anymore.'"

The moment I delivered Aldo's message, I felt better. Aldo had made it OK for me to cope in my own way, to recover at my own pace, to be my own mess of a self. That is when I began to realize that I had been tyrannized by the idea that everyone must always have a positive attitude.

Having flourished in my own authentically kvetchy way, I believe that we would be better off if we let everyone be themselves — positive, negative or even somewhere in-between.
Independently produced for All Things Considered by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick."

Hate Crimes Rise

"WASHINGTON November 19, 2007, 4:55 p.m. ET · Hate crime incidents rose nearly 8 percent last year — more than half motivated by racial prejudice, the FBI reported Monday, as civil rights advocates increasingly take to the streets to protest what they call official indifference to intimidation and attacks against blacks and other minorities.

Police across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability. That was up 7.8 percent from 7,163 incidents reported in 2005.
Although the noose incidents and beatings among students at Jena, La., high school occurred in the last half of 2006, they were not included in the report. Only 12,600 of the nation's more than 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies participated in the hate crime reporting program in 2006 and neither Jena nor LaSalle Parish, in which the town is located, were among the agencies reporting.

Nevertheless, the Jena incidents, and a subsequent rash of noose and other racial incidents around the country, have spawned civil rights demonstrations that culminated last week at Justice Department headquarters here. The department said it investigated the Jena incident but decided not to prosecute because the federal government does not typically bring hate crime charges against juveniles.

Organizers said 100 busloads of protesters joined Friday's march here. In September, an estimated 20,000 protesters marched through Jena. On Nov. 3, hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Charleston, W. Va., to urge prosecutors to add hate crime charges against six white people charged in the beating, torture and sexual assault of a 20-year-old black woman who was discovered Sept. 8 after several days of alleged captivity in a rural trailer.
The Jena case began in August 2006 after a black student sat under a tree known as a gathering spot for white students. Three white students later hung nooses from the tree. They were suspended by the school but not prosecuted. Six black teenagers, however, were charged by LaSalle Parish prosecutor Reed Walters with attempted second-degree murder of a white student who was beaten unconscious in December 2006. The charges have since been reduced to aggravated second-degree assault, but civil rights protesters have complained that no charges were filed against the white students who hung the nooses.

"The FBI report confirms what we have been saying for many months about the severe increase in hate crimes," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who organized Friday's march. "What is not reported, however, is the lack of prosecution and serious investigation by the Justice Department to counter this increase in hate crimes." Sharpton called for Attorney General Michael Mukasey to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders to discuss this enforcement.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse noted that Mukasey praised the civil rights movement at his confirmation hearings and plans over the next several months to meet "with a number of groups and individuals who have an interest in or concerns about the work" of the department. Roehrkasse also noted that federal prosecutors convicted a record 189 defendants of civil rights violations in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

The Justice Department says it is actively investigating a number of noose incidents at schools, workplaces and neighborhoods around the country. It says "a noose is a powerful symbol of hate and racially motivated violence" recalling the days of lynchings of blacks and that it can constitute a federal civil rights offense under some circumstances.

The FBI report does not break out the number of noose incidents but the two most frequent hate crimes in 2006 were property damage or vandalism, at 2,911 offenses, and intimidation, at 2,046 offenses. There were 3 murders, 6 rapes, 860 aggravated assaults, 1,447 simple assaults and 41 arsons. Other offenses included robbery, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.
The 7,722 hate crime incidents involved 9,080 specific criminal offenses, include 5,449 against individuals, 3,593 against property and 38 classified as against society at large. A single incident can be aimed at both people and property.

Since the FBI began collecting hate crime data in 1991, the most frequent motivation has been racial bias, accounting for 51.8 percent of incidents in 2006, down from the 54.7 in 2005.
Also in 2006, religious bias was blamed for 18.9 percent of the incidents; sexual orientation bias for 15.5 percent, and ethnic or national origin — for 12.7 percent.

"This FBI report confirms ... that hate crimes protections for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community are long overdue," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights group. Solmonese called on Congress to pass pending legislation that would expand the federal hate crime statute to cover crimes motivated by sexual orientation. The law currently covers only crimes based on race, color, religious or national origin.
Lack of full participation by the more than 17,000 police agencies around the nation somewhat undermines year-to-year comparisons.

For instance, in 2004, 12,711 agencies reported 7,649 incidents. In 2005, only 12,417 agencies reported and incidents dropped 6 percent to 7,163. But in 2006, agencies reporting rose to 12,620 and incidents climbed 7.8 percent to 7,722.

In 2006, police identified 7,330 offenders; 58.6 percent white, 20.6 percent black, 12.9 percent race unknown and the rest other races. Thirty-one percent of incidents occurred near residences; 18 percent on roads; 12.2 percent at colleges or schools, 6.1 percent in parking lots or garages, 3.9 percent at churches, synagogues or temples, and the remainder elsewhere."
———
On the Net:
FBI report: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/nov07/hatecrime11190

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Demands on Army Exceed Supply


"The war in Iraq has achieved its own share of milestones: It is the third-longest in American history and will soon be the second-most expensive. And now, it's the first prolonged war since the American Revolution that has been fought by an all-volunteer military.


It's no secret that the U.S. Army is too small to face the current demands placed on it by its civilian leaders. By 2012, the Army — the largest of the four service branches — will grow its active-duty component to about 550,000 soldiers. And the Army's top military commander, Gen. George Casey, wants to make it bigger.


"I believe that the 547,000 active [duty component] that we're building is a good milestone," Casey told members of the Senate Armed Services committee on Thursday. "But I believe it's probably not big enough."
The Army chief now says that if the United States were to take part in another conflict, he probably wouldn't have the troops to carry out the mission.


"The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply," Casey said. "We're consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other contingencies."


Lately, the Army has boasted of strong recruiting and retention numbers. But peel back the layers and you find that recruitment standards are dropping, and some of the best soldiers are getting out.
Right now, the Army faces a shortage of about 3,000 majors and captains. By 2010, that number could double. Close to 58 percent of the graduates from West Point's class of 2002 no longer serve in the Army. It's a record number.


More than half of the Army's total equipment is either in Iraq or Afghanistan. Half of the Army's fighting units — Brigade Combat Teams — are not considered ready to deploy. And the Army, stretched to the breaking point, can't maintain a strategic reserve of troops at home that might be needed to protect the U.S. or U.S. interests abroad, should that need arise.


To make things slightly more complicated, the military now faces a potential crisis in funding. While the Pentagon's budget eats up about one-third of the total amount of money the government has to spend, the war in Iraq requires "supplemental" funding.


Congress hasn't been able to legislate an end to the war. So instead, it has tried to use the power of the purse. On Wednesday night, the House passed a bill that would send $50 billion to the Pentagon to continue funding the war. But President Bush says he won't sign it because the bill calls for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.


The Pentagon warns that if the money doesn't come soon, as many as 100,000 civilian employees across the country could face temporary lay-offs."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fires Out Wast

“RAMONA, Calif. - Wildfire evacuees in Southern California are returning home, but things certainly aren't the same and won't be for some time.
Residents in the San Diego County town of Ramona don't have water. Officials say the city is in an "extreme water crisis," and that no water use is allowed.
Residents can pick up jugs of spring water at a water distribution center in the city.
Meanwhile, about 12,600 San Diego Gas and Electric customers are without power, while 675 don't have natural gas.
And authorities warn that smoke and ash across Southern California are making the air dangerous. Officials are urging children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems to stay indoors.
In all, more than a dozen fires have scorched more than half a million acres. About 1,700 homes have been destroyed, and at least three people have been killed.”

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sarasota Bus Driver

"Strong allegations against a Sarasota school bus driver Friday night. An elementary student says the bus driver embarrassed and offended him with a racial slur.
The student says he couldn't help but hear the curse words come from the bus drivers mouth. The school district is aware of the accusations and looking into what exactly is going on.
"It didn't make me feel any good. Strong allegations against a Sarasota school bus driver Friday night. An elementary student says the bus driver embarrassed and offended him with a racial slur.
The student says he couldn't help but hear the curse words come from the bus drivers mouth. The school district is aware of the accusations and looking into what exactly is going on.
"It didn't make me feel any good..not at all."
Eight-year-old Jordan Blyden is a student at Tatum Ridge Elementary School. He says last week's bus ride home is one he doesn't want to experience again. "Mr. Mike was yelling at the substitute driver and because the substitute driver said that he didn't like the way how he was yelling at all the other little kindergarteners."
Jordan says the bus driver was yelling the "f" word to the assistant bus driver... in front of all the kids on the bus. "With all the little kindergartners sitting right behind him and me sitting all the way in the back being able to hear it."
When he got home, he told his dad what had happened.
"The language is certainly a concern in front of 8-year-olds. It's inappropriate on any school bus whether it be 8-years-old or high school." Jordan's step-father, Art Horn, called Sarasota School District transportation officials to issue a complaint.
Gary Leatherman is the school district communications director. He says if the allegations are true there will be consequences. "We do everything possible to ensure that our students are safe and comfortable in our schools and particularly as regards there cultural or ethnic background."
Horn isn't going to allow his son back on that bus with the driver he says offended and embarrassed his son.
"I'm really concerned that Jordan was singled out and made to feel bad to his friends why they had to change seats and the racial undertones that came into are absolutely unacceptable."
Jordan tells me when he got back on the bus the next day the driver used racial slurs. "And then I told him he was using foul language and I didn't really want to be around it and then he said and then he called me a big black piece of chocolate."
Jordan says he just wants a different driver taking him to school, and Horn is planning on meeting with school officials and the bus driver Monday.
Eight-year-old Jordan Blyden is a student at Tatum Ridge Elementary School. He says last week's bus ride home is one he doesn't want to experience again. "Mr. Mike was yelling at the substitute driver and because the substitute driver said that he didn't like the way how he was yelling at all the other little kindergarteners."
Jordan says the bus driver was yelling the "f" word to the assistant bus driver... in front of all the kids on the bus. "With all the little kindergartners sitting right behind him and me sitting all the way in the back being able to hear it."
When he got home, he told his dad what had happened.
"The language is certainly a concern in front of 8-year-olds. It's inappropriate on any school bus whether it be 8-years-old or high school." Jordan's step-father, Art Horn, called Sarasota School District transportation officials to issue a complaint.
Gary Leatherman is the school district communications director. He says if the allegations are true there will be consequences. "We do everything possible to ensure that our students are safe and comfortable in our schools and particularly as regards there cultural or ethnic background."
Horn isn't going to allow his son back on that bus with the driver he says offended and embarrassed his son.
"I'm really concerned that Jordan was singled out and made to feel bad to his friends why they had to change seats and the racial undertones that came into are absolutely unacceptable."
Jordan tells me when he got back on the bus the next day the driver used racial slurs. "And then I told him he was using foul language and I didn't really want to be around it and then he said and then he called me a big black piece of chocolate."
Jordan says he just wants a different driver taking him to school, and Horn is planning on meeting with school officials and the bus driver Monday."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Breakdown


I recently finished a book entitled Breakdown written by William Johnstone. It basically was about Conservatives nearly overthrowing the USA government over grievances such the right to bear arms, homophobia and racism. In the end, there was compromise amongst liberals and conservatives. The liberals who were in charge of the government did not anticipate the scope of divisions within the nation until civil war had already broken loose. A vast majority of the nation literally were apathetic to whom controlled the nation politically; proceeding along with their normal lives while the nation was being ripped apart.


One would think ideas of real change in American are unrealistic conversation. Ideas however can bring about real change. America was built on the shoulders of a revolution and this method maybe the sole means for correcting countless broken systems.


Fundamental changes in to addition to reversals of certain governmental and political conditions in healthcare, education, military & defense, and the hypothetical glass ceiling are required. In 2006 alone $500 Billion federal dollars was spent on Military and Defense, $67 Billion on Health & Human Services and $56 Billion on Education. These facts are taking directly from the White House


The first change I am calling for is a permanent cut in U.S. military spending.

Random Thoughts: Budarin

  • W gave up alcohol and turned to faith. Now he is a faithoholic.
  • Treason is not failure to support the President. Treason is supporting the President above the Constitution.
  • I can point out my wife’s mistakes and love my wife. I can point out my country’s mistakes and love my country.
  • Moral absolutism makes one a sinner and a hypocrite.
  • You can’t make a foreign policy out of “kicking ass”. There are simply too many asses.
  • I am not a socialist. I am a social-regulation-ist.
  • Never base decisions on your “gut”, like W. Your “gut” is never as smart as your brain.
  • Abstinence is just another contraceptive.
  • Conservatism is defined by its inhumanity.
  • If God is loving and just and concerned for all our welfare, God is not a conservative.
Alex Budarin

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Advice for Republicans

For the past 6 years, Republicans have been very generous in giving advice to us Democrats. They said we should, for our own good, line up behind the President and support the war in Iraq. They warned us that we were out of the mainstream with respect to social policies. And they told us that our failure to heed their advice would cause us to continue to lose elections.

Surprisingly, from their perspective, Democrats gained the advantage in the elections of 2006. And the Republican Party - the Party of God! - has been hit with a number of scandals relating to sex offenses, bribery and fraud. I believe it is now our responsibility, as Democrats, to offer Republicans sympathetic words of political advice. So here are some things I suggest Republicans do for the good of their party during their time of trial.

  • Keep Larry Craig in the Senate as long as possible. It’s important to demonstrate loyalty and resolve whatever the circumstances. Remind the public that he is a man of God whose worst curse is, “Jiminy!”
  • Look for cases where the government can intervene in private lives for the sake of conservative values, like the Schiavo case. The American public will appreciate your invasion of their privacy for the sake of righteousness.
  • Repeatedly remind the American public that George W. Bush is our “Commander Guy”, and what happens in Iraq happens under his command. Like that stuff at Abu Ghraib.
  • IOKIYAR – “it’s OK if you are a Republican.” When we Democrats are involved in sex scandals or financial scandals, that’s a reflection of our permissive culture and moral relativism. Point out that it’s different when Republicans get caught up in a sex scandal or financial scandal. Then it’s a private lapse, and any attention the media gives it is a partisan attack by Democrats and proof that the media is run by liberals.
  • Why defend steep tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the rich? Just declare, like John Jay, “Those who own the country ought to govern it.”
  • What the terrorists want is for our population to be constantly terrified. You’ve been doing that instead. Keep it up. You’ll rob the terrorists of their objective.
  • You know that the worst problems our country faces are homosexuals, Spanish-speakers, liberals, Democrats, stem cell research, and folks who disagree with you about the Iraq War. The voting public needs to be told this, as often as possible.

That’s all I can think of for now. No need to thank me. I’m just returning a favor.

ALEX BUDARIN

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bush Jr. Vetoes Child Health Care Bill


“There certainly does seem to be a legitimate argument that the president only objects to new spending when Democrats are doing it, because he certainly wasn't objecting when Republicans controlled Congress.” Dan Mitchell, Cato Institute


"Morning Edition, October 3, 2007 · President Bush on Wednesday vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have dramatically expanded children's health insurance, after saying the legislation was too costly and had strayed from its original intent.


It was only the fourth veto of Bush's presidency, and one that some Republicans feared could be used against them in next year's elections. The Senate approved the bill with enough votes to override the veto, but the margin in the House fell short of the required number.

The State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, is a joint state-federal effort that subsidizes health coverage for 6.6 million people, mostly children, from families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford their own private coverage.

The Democrats who control Congress, with significant support from Republicans, passed the legislation to add $35 billion over five years, allowing an additional 4 million children into the program. It would be funded by raising the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents to $1 per pack.
The president had promised to veto it, saying the Democratic bill was too costly, took the program too far from its original intent of helping the poor, and would entice people now covered in the private sector to switch to government coverage. He wants only a $5 billion increase in funding. Bush argued that the congressional plan would be a move toward socialized medicine by expanding the program to higher-income families.
The president faces a possible rebellion by Republican lawmakers who back the bill. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) berated Bush on the Senate floor for having labeled the legislation "irresponsible" in his radio address Saturday.

"If you want to talk about the word responsible and whether Congress is responsible or not in this bill, I would say that anybody that wants to leave the program the way it is — and that's what's going to happen with a veto — that's an irresponsible position to take," Grassley said.
House Democratic leaders have said they will wait until next week or later to try to override a veto. They are hoping by then to peel off some 15 Republicans to get the two-thirds majority they need for an override. Texas A&M presidential scholar George Edwards says that lawmakers who stick with the president could pay for it in next year's elections.

"I think in a widely supported policy like the SCHIP bill, that the risks are substantial for Republicans," Edwards said. "It's difficult to take the case to the voters on something specific like that when we're talking about health care for children and explain the complex rationale for opposition."
Asked why the president has also issued veto threats against almost all the spending bills this year, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president has a role to play in the legislative debate.

"One of the things the president can do is say, 'I'm not going to sign a bill that comes to me with extraneous spending. I'm not going to sign a bill that has policies in it that should not be a part of the United States policy,'" Perino said. "And so I would hope that we wouldn't have to do veto threats, but I think that the Democrats have shown that these are the types of legislative angles that they're going to take, and that's why the president has to send some veto threats up."

At issue is the fact that, added together, the spending bills exceed the president's own budget by some $23 billion.
But Dan Mitchell of the libertarian Cato Institute says that amount is paltry compared with the amount of excess spending that Bush signed during the Republicans' control of Congress.

"There certainly does seem to be a legitimate argument that the president only objects to new spending when Democrats are doing it, because he certainly wasn't objecting when Republicans controlled Congress," Mitchell said.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee said that if there is a spending problem, it is the White House asking for nearly $200 billion in war funding.

"If the president is really concerned about stopping red ink, we are prepared to introduce legislation that will provide for a war surtax for that portion of military costs related to our military action in Iraq," Rep. David Obey (D-WI) proposed.
If President Bush does not like that cost, he added, he can shut down the war.

Most Republicans derided the idea of a war surtax.
"You pay for the war by winning the war," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). "This is not an accounting exercise. How did we pay for World War II? Everybody rolled up their sleeves and did the best they could."
They also paid a war surtax.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave the idea a thumbs down; so did Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"The speaker said that is not what she wants," Reid explained. "That's good enough for me."

Facing a spate of veto threats, Democratic leaders show little appetite for a separate fight over raising taxes.
With additional reporting from The Associated Press"

Monday, October 01, 2007

Cultural misconceptions empirically verified


Black Students Face Harsher Discipline


"Government data shows black students face much harsher discipline and are out of school more often than any other ethnic group for the similar offenses. Chicago Tribune reporter Howard Witt analyzes the report. Witt speaks with Andrea Seabrook."

Monday, September 24, 2007

FL Orchestra faces restraints


National trends favoring privatization (for example of prisons, social services, and hospitals) added together with tax cuts driven by conservative fiscal principles, which have caused cuts in spending especially in Florida where Republicans lead. Such budget restraints are trickling down to cultural and community expenditures such as parks, social services, non-profits, and the arts. These trends are traveling a road our local communities must avoid. In Tampa Bay, there is an essential need to balance priority amongst municipal and social services in addition to investment in cultural enhancement that in turn bring tourism dollars including attracting newcomers generating tax revenue. Tampa Bay is no New York, San Francisco or Miami however being situated along the I-4 corridor and the bay it possesses such potential. The restraints surfacing within the Florida Orchestra is an alarming economic indicator. Tampa Bay without a doubt is in a well-built position supportive of a thriving arts sector.

The Florida Orchestra is a strapping cultural pillar within Florida and its wealth of Arts; supported by a modest endowment valued at $10 million. Orchestra musicians now as stated in the St. Pete Times “are far from harmony on a contract. There is no labor contract between the musicians and board of directors, as a result orchestra members voted to give its negotiation committee the authority to call a strike if that was deemed necessary. The Orchestra’s board is pushing to cut expenses from its budget. The musicians payroll is the largest part of the budget.” Sources say approximately $450,000 federal, state and local government funding was slashed from the Orchestra’s overall budget.

Source: St. Pete Times 09/20/07

Dan Rather Sues CBS


Rather says "CBS wanted to pacify the White House" "Government is influencing newsrooms".



St. Pete Times 09/20/07

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Iran's president

“TEHRAN, Iran - A day before flying to New York to speak directly to the American people, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad struck a confrontational tone Saturday with a parade of fighter jets and missiles and tough warnings for the United States to stay out of the Mideast.
Three new domestically manufactured warplanes streaked over the capital during the parade marking the 27th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Iran, which sparked a 1980-88 war that killed hundreds of thousands of people. The parade also featured the Ghadr missile, which has a range of 1,120 miles, capable of reaching Israel.
Some of the missile trucks were painted with the slogans "Down with the U.S." and "Down with Israel." The parade also featured unmanned aerial surveillance drones, torpedoes, and tanks.
Tensions are high between Washington and Tehran over U.S. accusations that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and helping Shiite militias in Iraq that target U.S. troops. Iran denies the claims.
Washington has said it is addressing the Iran situation diplomatically, rather than militarily, but U.S. officials also say that all options are open.
"Those (countries) who assume that decaying methods such as psychological war, political propaganda and the so-called economic sanctions would work and prevent Iran's fast drive toward progress are mistaken," Ahmadinejad.
Iran launched an arms development program during its war with Iraq to compensate for a U.S. weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own jets, torpedoes, radar-avoiding missiles, tanks and armored personnel carriers.
"Those who prevented Iran, at the height of the war from getting even barbed wire must see now that all the equipment on display today has been built by the mighty hands and brains of experts at Iran's armed forces," Ahmadinejad said.
He is expected to address the American people directly in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" airing Sunday, and through appearances at the U.N., Columbia University and several other events.
His request to lay a wreath at the World Trade Center site was denied and condemned by Sept. 11 family members and politicians. Protests against his Columbia appearance are planned at the university and the United Nations by demonstrators angry at his questioning of the Holocaust and declarations that Israel will cease to exist.
Iran and the U.S. have not had diplomatic ties since militants took over the U.S. Embassy following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Since then, the cleric-led regime has vilified the United States as the "Great Satan."
Despite Ahmadinejad's frequent anti-U.S. rhetoric, he has tried to appeal to the American people before. Recently, he told a live satellite television show that his country wanted peace and friendship with the U.S. Since coming to power in 2005, Ahmadinejad has also sent letters to the American people in which he criticized Bush's Mideast policy.
He is scheduled to address the General Assembly on Tuesday _ his third time attending the New York meeting in three years. Last year, Ahmadinejad was harshly critical of U.S. policies in Iraq and Lebanon and insisted that his nation's nuclear activities were "transparent."
At the parade, Ahmadinejad repeated his demand for foreign forces to leave the region and urged the United States to acknowledge it has failed in Iraq. Outside the 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, there are 40,000 troops on U.S. bases in Persian Gulf countries and another 20,000 in Mideast waters.
"Nations throughout the region do not need the presence of the foreigners to manage their own needs. Foreign presence is the root cause of all instability, differences and threats," he said.
On the sidelines of the parade, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said the event highlighted the "might of Iran's armed forces to its enemies," adding that Iran is ready to retaliate if attacked.
"Iran has drawn up plans to confront enemies in the face of any possible attack," the official IRNA news agency quoted Jafari as saying.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also issued a warning against any launch of a limited strike on Iran.
"Military aggression against Iran in the form of a hit-and-run attack is not possible anymore," he was quoted on television as saying to the nation's top military leaders. "Anybody attacking us will become entangled with grave consequences."
The Bush administration is expected to soon blacklist a unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, subjecting part of the vast military operation to financial penalties. The step would be in response to Iran's involvement in Iraq and elsewhere.
The U.S. is also leading a push in the U.N. Security Council for a third round of economic sanctions against Iran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes including generating electricity. The Security Council is not expected to take up the issue before October.
"Learn lessons from your past mistakes. Don't repeat your mistakes," he said in a warning to the United States over its push to impose more sanctions.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Analysis of Iraq War


As of late a majority of the resources of this organization have been devoted to ending the War in Iraq. I encourgae my fellow bloggers to follow suit.


I sincerely write about this topic in neither hope nor anticipation of my country, the United States loosing the Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and on Terror. However, because I believe that in our Democracy it is the duty of American citizens to entertain such a discussion to pledge support on the challenge of our generation.


Excerpts from the essay How the Weak Win Wars are the basis of this paper. Since the start of the War in Iraq, five items have repeatedly appeared on the media and discussions amongst the public.
1) The Motives for Going to War2) Justifications for the Iraq War3) Information provided to the American People and International Governing Bodies in regards to the War4) The legalities of charges and subsequent conviction of ousted Iraq President Saddam Hussein.

Rational leads one to question the validity of these charges based on humanitarian incursions occurring in 1982. This being the second instance the U.S has waged War in Iraq based on these identical charges. Secondly, allegations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), now known to be to be a false claim. Therefore one would induce charges being brought against Saddam Hussein are at the least questionable. Furthermore, there is a deeper theoretical concern; these indictments are nearly spurious unless all the citizens of Iraq equally are instituted in the opportunities manifested by a stable democratic government. Subsequently more questions arise; how can these charges be justified in light of faulty intelligence. Moreover, how are these charges justified when the motives, ethics and credibility of certain U.S. political leaders are in question?

5) The War on Terror. The readers of this paper don’t to be enlightened however the fact that Al Qaeda moved to wage war against the U.S.A. and not Iraq is worthy to be restated. It is fact not partisan rhetoric the War in Iraq has diverted government resources (law enforcement, FBI, CIA), funding, military, diplomatic resources from eliminating Al Qaeda. Great Britain, the closet ally of the United States for example has endured multiple terrorist attacks coordinated by Al Qaeda and their sympathizers. To paraphrase the words of Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair “an attack against Great Britain is an attack against America“.

Below is a summary and excerpts from an essay entitled:How the Weak Win Wars“With the U.S. military engaged in armed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ivan Arreguin-Toft’s How the Weak Win Wars is a timely contribution to the ongoing debate over U.S. defense strategy in the post-September 11 security environment. First, Arreguin- Toft provides a well-structured discussion of existing theories in the literature on how weaker actors have won wars against substantially more powerful states and articulates his own hypothesis to explain this phenomenon, which he calls “strategic interaction theory.”
He postulates that intuition would tell us “power matters most,” but notes that history tells us otherwise. In fact, not only have weak actors had sporadic successes in asymmetric conflicts, but the trend of their successes is increasing.
His argument is constructed on the premise that there are four competing explanations for weak victory in asymmetric wars, each of which has weaknesses in predicting outcomes or explaining the trend of increasing weak actor victories. The first of these hypotheses focuses on the nature of the actors. In this theory, authoritarian strong actors are said to have a greater probability of success in asymmetric conflict because they tend to lack the political vulnerability of a democracy. The second theory states that the diffusion of arms, particularly since the Second World War, has closed the aggregate power gap between weak and strong. In other words, even a weak power has a chance of success when equipped with modern weaponry. The third theory is that of interest asymmetry, which asserts that asymmetric wars tend to be fought with limited means for limited ends by the strong actor, but with unlimited means for the unlimited ends by the weak. Theoretically this interest asymmetry is more important to the outcome than relative power.
The final competing explanation is Arreguin- Toft’s own theory of strategic interaction. He postulates that the interaction of the strategies employed by the actors in an asymmetric conflict is the most likely predictor of outcome. His method of proof begins by dividing military strategy into two general categories. These categories are direct, such as conventional attack or defense, and indirect, such as counter-insurgency or guerilla warfare. His thesis is that when asymmetric actors employ similar strategies, as in the cases of direct versus direct or indirect versus indirect, the conflict favors the strong. On the contrary, when the strategies are of dissimilar types, the conflict favors the weak. The bulk of How the Weak Win Wars is dedicated to five case studies chosen from the statistical sampling. They include the Russo- Murid War of 1830- 1859, the Boer War, the Italo- Ethiopian War of 1935 - 1940, the Vietnam War, and the Afghan Civil War of the 1980’s.

Finally, he refers to the current conflict in Iraq as a “costly quagmire.” Arreguin- Toft means to convince the reader that when the very strong meet the weak in asymmetric armed conflict, strategy matters more than power. His work is extremely relevant in the current geopolitical context and serves as a warning to US policy makers to get military strategy right, regardless of relative power. Arreguin- Toft’s argument makes perfectly clear the perilous consequences of neglecting the importance of strategic interaction. ( Excerpts taking from a Review Essay found in the Harvard International Review Vol. 27 # 2, pg. 78 ) ”.

Article published Checks & Balances Org 07/25/05 by Anthony T. Brooks
Image Source: http://ancapistan.typepad.com/unfairwitness/2004/12/dramatic_photos.html

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

U.S.A. in Iraq


Reports proving that American presence in Iraq is recruiting terrorists give further justification to an immediate end to the War in Iraq.

This is substantiated by Donald Rumsfeld’s statement, "Foreign troops in a country are unnatural, and the goal is not to keep them there” ( http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2003&m=November&x=20031102202110aegi0.4442713) .

9-1-1-07



"By AMY WESTFELDT, Associated Press Writer 5 minutes ago
NEW YORK - Relatives of Sept. 11 victims bowed their heads in silence Tuesday to mark the moments exactly six years earlier when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. The dreary skies created a grim backdrop, and a sharp contrast to the clear blue of that morning in 2001.
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"That day we felt isolated, but not for long and not from each other," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said as the first ceremony began. "Six years have passed, and our place is still by your side."
Construction equipment now fills the vast city block where the World Trade Center once stood. The work under way for four new towers forced the ceremony's move away from the twin towers' footprints and into a nearby park for the first time.
As people clutched framed photos of their lost loved ones, Kathleen Mullen, whose niece Kathleen Casey died in the attacks, said the park was close enough.
"Just so long as we continue to do something special every year, so you don't wake up and say, 'Oh, it's 9/11," she said.
On this sixth anniversary, presidential politics and the health of ground zero workers loomed, perhaps more than any other.
The firefighters and first responders who helped rescue thousands that day in 2001 and later recovered the dead were to read the victims' names for the first time. Many of those rescuers are now ill with respiratory problems and cancers themselves, and they blame the illnesses on exposure to the fallen towers' toxic dust.
For the first time, the name of a victim who survived that towers' collapse but died five months later of lung disease blamed on the dust she inhaled was added to the official roll.
Felicia Dunn-Jones, an attorney, was working a block from the World Trade Center. She became the 2,974th victim linked to the four crashes of the hijacked airliners in New York, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa., where federal investigators say the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 fought the hijackers on the rallying cry "Let's roll!"
A memorial honoring Flight 93's 40 passengers and crew began at 9:45 a.m., shortly before the time the airliner nosedived into the empty field.
"As American citizens, we're all looking at our heroes," said Kay Roy, whose sister Colleen Fraser, of Elizabeth, N.J., died when the plane went down.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff also spoke to the mourners, telling them: "You have my promise that we will continue to work every single day to protect the people of this country, all in the name of those who perished heroically on Flight 93."
In New York, drums and bagpipes played as an American flag saved from the collapse was carried toward a stage.
Firefighters shared the platform with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who many victims' families and firefighters said shouldn't speak at the service to keep from politicizing it.
Giuliani, who is running for president, has made his performance after the 2001 terrorist attacks the cornerstone of his campaign, but he has said his desire to be there Tuesday was entirely personal.
"It was a day with no answers, but with an unending line of people who came forward to help one another," he told those gathered.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeking the Democratic Party presidential nomination, also attended the ceremonies. Republican Mitt Romney, another presidential contender, issued a statement describing the attacks as the day "radical Islamists brought terror to our shores" and paying tribute to U.S. troops sent to Afghanistan and Iraq in the aftermath.
In Washington, President Bush paused for a moment of silence outside the White House, while at the Pentagon, Gen. Peter Pace spoke at the wall where the hijacked plane broke through.
Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the victims' families that their loved ones will always be remembered.
"I do not know the proper words to tell you what's in my heart, what is in our hearts, what your fellow citizens are thinking today. We certainly hope that somehow these observances will help lessen your pain," he said.
Pace also spoke of the military, calling the anniversary "a day of recommitment."
At the main U.S. base at Afghanistan, service members bowed their heads in memory of the victims.
National intelligence director Mike McConnell said U.S. authorities remain vigilant and concerned about "sleeper cells" of would-be terrorists inside the United States.
"We're safer but we're not safe," McConnell said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Even though the World Trade Center ceremony gathering was moved out of ground zero, thousands of family members descended briefly into the site to lay flowers near the twin towers' footprints.
Among the first family members down the ramp was Marjorie Miller, whose late husband Joel worked at Marsh & McLennan. She said the rain was almost welcome after five consecutive years of Sept. 11 sunshine.
"A lot of tears coming down from up there," she said, gesturing toward the sky, "and a lot of tears down here."
In all, 2,974 victims were killed by the Sept. 11 attacks: 2,750 connected to the World Trade Center, 40 in Pennsylvania and 184 at the Pentagon. Those numbers do not include the 19 hijackers. "
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