December 27, 2005

The Good News Post

I recently got pissed off after reading about how we were only ten points down in yet another poll. I'm so sick of being behind and getting excited that we are finally going to win, only to have Lucy pull out the football. Then I got to thinking that it was really just a matter of perspective, we are doing well in a lot of races - so I thought I would find that data:

Diane Feinstein (CA) - As of the end of September, Feinstein had $5.2 million in the bank for her reelection run. No opponent.

Bill Nelson (FL) - Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson begins his reelection year with a 55 – 31 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, the only announced Republican challenger in the 2006 Florida U.S. Senate race. At the end of September, Harris had raised $1.3 million and had only $470,000 cash on hand.

Maryland Senate
- It looks like Cardin will win, latest Rasmussen poll has Cardin at 45% and Steele at 40%.

Minnesota Senate - Mark Dayton (D) is gone from the Senate, the leading Democrat leads teh Republican Kennedy 48% to 41%.

Washington Senate - ( For the second straight time in a Rasmussen Reports election poll, Democrat Maria Cantwell leads Republican Mike McGavick 52% to 37%. The poll numbers are essentially unchanged from our November 10 survey.

Ohio Senate - Congressman Sherrod Brown, who plans to formally kick-off his Senate campaign today, trails DeWine by just two percentage points in the latest Rasmussen Reports election poll. Paul Hackett, an Iraq War Veteran and strong critic of President Bush, is within a single point of DeWine. Name recognition for the two Democrats is lower than for DeWine - I think we can say this is very competitive.

Nebraska Senate - The latest Rasmussen Reports Election Poll finds Nelson leading political newcomer Pete Rickets by a 52% to 29% margin.

Pennsylvania Senate - The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows that Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is continuing to lose ground in his battle for re-election. Santorum trails Democrat Bob Casey, Jr by twenty percentage points, 54% to 34%.

Generic House of Representatives Race (Rep. - Dem.)
ABC/Washington Post RV -10
Diageo/Hotline RV -10
Democracy Corps -8
CBS/New York Times RV -9
Democracy Corps -10

December 26, 2005

NC House Update

I thought I would put together some information from around the net on the NC House races. First, from the DCCC page, the list of candidates and opponents.
Races in North Carolina (Democrat incumbents in bold; Democratic challengers in italics)

NC-01 Democratic Incumbent Rep. G.K. Butterfield

NC-02 Democratic Incumbent Rep. Bob Etheridge

NC-03 Challenging GOP incumbent Walter Jones:
Craig Weber

NC-04 Democratic Incumbent Rep. David Price

NC-05 GOP incumbent Virginia Foxx
thinking about it:
Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines
Former State Senator Ted Kaplan, from BlueNC

NC-06 GOP incumbent Howard Coble
Some thoughts from Ed Cone.

NC-07 Democratic Incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre

NC-08 Challenging GOP incumbent Robin Hayes:
Timothy Dunn
Larry Kissell

NC-09 Challenging GOP incumbent Sue Myrick:
Bill Glass

NC-10 Challenging GOP incumbent Patrick McHenry:
Anne Fischer (2004 page, nothing new)

NC-11 Challenging GOP incumbent Charles Taylor:
Heath Shuler

NC-12 Democratic Incumbent Rep. Melvin Watt

NC-13 Democratic Incumbent Rep. Brad Miller

So, how are we doing?
Well, we hold 6 seats that look pretty safe based on past elections. In the 7 seats the Republicans hold, we have declared candidates in 5 of the races. In the Foxx race we have two potential candidates. As of yet, we have no one challenging Coble, but perhaps someone out there knows about an unknown candidate?

What are out best chances at pickups? I have to think that Heath Shuler stands a good chance of knocking off Charles Taylor. Shuler as of October 1 had a 250K to 9K lead in money. Is Taylor even running? Will he have trouble raising funds?
In the last election he raised $330K from Special Interest PACS. That same fund raising will tie into the fact he is ethically challenged, as this roundup does a good job of reviewing.

That race alone would push NC from 6-7 Dem to 7-6 Dem and into the Blue camp. But, we can't forget about our old friend Robin Hayes. Hayes is linked to the corruption, gives a rubber stamp to the Bush administration on almost every issue, and has made some bad votes on the issues - his last minute reversal on CAFTA chief among them. However, he has a $500K or greater to $49K lead over Tim Dunn as of October 1 - it should be interesting to see what happens over the next month. I have no funding information on Larry Kissell at this time, anyone else? All in all, this should be a really competitive race based on corruption and the Republican stain, however, we're going to need some more money.

Are there any other competitive races? NC 1, 2, 4, 7, 12, and 13 are our seats. NC 8 and NC 11 are the two competitive seats, so that leaves NC3, NC5, NC6, NC9, and NC10. NC5 and NC6 we have no candidates, so by definition, not competitive. That leaves NC3 (Walter Jones) and NC9 (Sue Myrick). Jones has $367K cash on hand (as of October) and his stance of Iraq might make it hard for Democrats to beat him. He has stood up to the Bush administration, against the Iraq war, etc. Not saying he shouldn't be voted out, but just that it will be hard. I don't have much information on Sue Myrick, so if anyone wants to update it, I can edit this diary. Myrick has $287K on hand, her opponent has none a of the October report.

December 23, 2005

Christmas Time

It's Christmas Time, so here is my wish list.

1. Iraqi government asks us to leave the country within 3 months.
2. Karl Rove is indicted for the Plame affair.
3. Senate actually investigates GWB and his illegal wiretapping.
4. Someone, anyone, captures Osama bin Laden.
5. Abramhoff gives evidence against a dozen crooked politicians and they spend time in jail.

So, what is your wish for Christmas?

October 28, 2005

Any other news today?
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October 14, 2005

Allied Casualties To Date

--originally posted on Daily Kos--

But, who are our allies?  Only the Europeans?  No.  I would say the Iraqi's are our Allies as well.  Those police and military Iraqi's dying every day.  So, if you are going to report Allied Deaths, do it correctly.

BUSH: Let me answer what he just said, about around the world.

GIBSON: Well, I want to get into the issue of the back-door draft...

BUSH: You tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Tony Blair we're going alone. Tell Silvio Berlusconi we're going alone. Tell Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland we're going alone.

There are 30 countries there. It denigrates an alliance to say we're going alone, to discount their sacrifices. You cannot lead an alliance if you say, you know, you're going alone. And people listen. They're sacrificing with us.

So, President Bush loves our Alliance, I think we should stand with him and present our casualties as Alliance Casualties.

Senator John Warner, chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee - This mistreatment of prisoners represents an appalling and totally unacceptable breach of military regulations and conduct.  Most significant...these images...undermine the...substantial sacrifice by our forces and those of our allies in the war on terror.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld  - In the last three years, under the leadership of President Bush and the 85 or 90 countries in the coalition, probably the largest coalition in the history of mankind, we've changed strategies, assumptions, and our view of the world.

Condoleezza Rice Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs  -  America's service men and women, working with Iraqis and coalition forces, are helping to usher in these improvements. Our troops in Baghdad and other cities are operating under difficult conditions. Baathist dead-enders, Fedayeen fighters, and foreign terrorists continue to attack coalition forces, innocent Iraqis, and symbols of progress.

So, what are the Allied Casualties at this point?

Coalition Casualties in Iraq          2164

Coalition Casualties in Afghanistan    243

Iraqi Allied Casualties               3396

Allied Contractor Casualties           273

Total Allied Casualties               6076

Don't hate America, include all of our Allies in the body count.  Not just Americans and Europeans, but all of our Allies.

October 04, 2005

Who runs C-SPAN?
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October 03, 2005

What up with the goat, Ohio?
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September 28, 2005

DeLay Indicted
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September 22, 2005

I just watched Fahrenheit 9/11...

and I forgot how pissed off I am. Especially about this:

So Al Gore was the choice of Florida’s voters -- whether one counts hanging chads or dimpled chads. That was the core finding of the eight news organizations that conducted a review of disputed Florida ballots. By any chad measure, Gore won.

Yeah, that really pisses me off. Who knows where we would have been with a real President, someone who wasn't bought and paid for by corporate interests. But, at least Bush has learned from his mistakes of cronyism - especially after the Brownie disaster.

Good news: Democratic governors have embarrassed the federal government into acknowledging the oil price gouging issue, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced a formal probe. Bad news: President Bush made sure to preempt any real investigation into price gouging by his financial backers in the oil/gas industry when last year he appointed a former ChevronTexaco lawyer, Deborah Majoras, to head the FTC.

Silly chuckles, a Neocon doesn't learn from his mistakes, he denies them until his death. Remember this?

In the years following, various episodes served as occasions for one pundit or another to declare Nixon's reputation restored. Nixon would visit Capitol Hill, or criticize George Bush's Russia policy in a strategically leaked memo, or meet with President Clinton; each time he was pronounced rehabilitated, even as polls showed that he remained unpopular. His death on April 18, 1994, brought a new zenith of revisionism: an outpouring of praise from President Clinton and other public figures. Television and radio networks aired a relentless parade of fond reminiscences about Nixon, news anchors drummed home the now-familiar lines about his comeback (again creating the fact they were ostensibly just reporting), and the eulogies at the funeral itself never once mentioned Watergate.

My greatest fear is that the Republicans will get their ship back on course before November 2006 - right now they are screwing the pooch as thoroughly as possible. Stay the course, George, stay the course.

September 20, 2005

McUSA Drops in World Health Measures

As I have noted here earlier, the US does a horrible job of keeping its infants and children alive. Now, new data from the UNDP Human Development Report for 2005 shows that the US has dropped in comparison to the rest of the world with respect to life expectancy.

1 Japan..........82.0
2 Hong Kong......81.6
3 Iceland........80.7
4 Switzerland....80.5
5 Australia......80.3
6 Sweden.........80.2
7 Italy..........80.1
8 Canada.........80.0
9 Israel.........79.7
10 France........79.5
18 Cyprus........78.6
19 Luxembourg....78.5
27 Chile.........77.9
29 United States.77.4
30 Cuba..........77.3

An interpretation of this data by others suggests the following:

Health is measured by life expectancy which is a pretty robust number. Not only have other countries moved ahead of us the gap between the US and the healthiest country has increased yet again. It is now 4.6 years, and if we eradicated heart disease, our leading cause of death, it would gain us about 3.5 years and we'd still be behind. Regarding the sensitivity of the number, doing the calculations with and without the 3000 deaths of Sept 11, 2001 would only affect it by 0.01 years.

So, what we have here is an indicator that the United States is once again, going backwards with respect to the rest of the world. They are getting healthier, faster than we are. Heart disease plays a major role in our unhealthiness, which is no surprise if you simply look around at all the McDonald's manging, Taco Bell stuffing, KFC finger-licking meals you see at work and at play. In both Florida and South Carolina, it was not uncommon for me to see parents drop off their kids at preschool or daycare with a McMeal for breakfast or lunch. Bad habits are hard to break. Giving kids bad habits is criminal at worst, stupid at best. The public needs help in educating themselves and kids need help educating their parents.

September 16, 2005

Smoke & Mirrors: Bush Relief Ends New Deal

There have been a number of diaries about the Bush Relief plan, but I haven't read one that has seen the true underpinings of the Bush Relief Plan.  This is everything the Neoconservative Movement could have hoped for - the End of the New Deal.

  • The President will live up to his promise.

  • The President will spend $200 Billion on Katrina relief.

  • The President will spend another $200 Billion on Iraq.

  • The Neoconservative movement will then have its wish, the destruction of the New Deal.

    What happens if the President gets his way and we spend all this money?  Do you think the fiscally conservative Republicans are going to forget about the balanced budget they want?  No, they can play right along with the Neoconservatives to make sure everyone get what they want.

    ...On Thursday, even before President Bush promised that "federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone," fiscal conservatives from the House and Senate joined budget watchdog groups in demanding that the administration be judicious in asking for taxpayer dollars....That sore spot was rubbed raw earlier this week when Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, suggested that the Republican Congress had already trimmed much of the fat from the federal budget, making it difficult to find ways to offset hurricane spending.

    Mr. Coburn called such a claim ludicrous and other Republicans took exception as well.

    "There has never been a time where there is more total spending and more wasteful spending in Washington than we have today," said Pat Toomey, a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania and the head of the conservative Club for Growth. "There is ample opportunity to find the offsets we need so that this does not have to be a fiscal disaster as well as a natural disaster."

    Are you beginning to see it?  Sure, we'll spend $200 Billion dollars for businesses to build up the coast, paying sub-minimum wages.  In the meantime, how should we pay for it?  Well, I guess we will have to cut all those programs that poor people abuse.  At a time like this, we need to focus on those who have suffered real tragedy and turn out those who are just lazy.

    Where will they have their needs met?

    "It is my hope that my constituents will join me in making a contribution to a charitable organization.  The people affected by this storm desperately need our help right away.  A donation to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or other charitable groups will help provide the resources necessary for these people to survive." Representative Virginia Foxx

    From the mouths of idiots, the plan.  How many times did you something like this from the President last night:

    Coast Guard and other personnel rescued tens of thousands of people from flooded neighborhoods. Religious congregations and families have welcomed strangers as brothers and sisters and neighbors.

    Before giving credit to the state or cities, or to private individuals, or even FEMA - he makes it clear that CHURCHES provide the help needed.

    This is how the New Deal will be lost - through the use of religious propaganda.  Who needs Medicaid or Medicare, your churches will take care of you.  Who needs welfare or food stamps, your churches will take care of you.

    This is it people - the fight for the New Deal.

    Our responsibility is to make this fight about the inability of the Neoconservative small government movement to keep a working government in place.  Our responsibility is to make everyone realize that tax cuts to the rich are to blame for the levees breaking.  Our responsibility is to make America see that Democrats, not Neoconservatives will protect ALL of our citizens, not just the rich, white citizens.

  • Truth and Politicians

    Do as I say, not as I do.
    Lesson 1 - Town Rules are for YOU, not for US!!!

    Signs proliferate, despite Cary rule
    Candidates' campaigns fail to follow the town's ordinance, but they don't face fines.

    ...Since the campaign for Town Council kicked off a few weeks ago, candidates have broken the town's sign ordinance 62 times...The town's politicians are supposed to follow the same rules that bar their neighbors from advertising their yard sales on telephone poles or dressing up like Uncle Sam and waving to traffic to drum up business. ...Most prefer not to talk about it. Ed Yerha, whose campaign has had 23 illegally placed signs confiscated by the town, professed ignorance at a recent candidates' forum.

    "I have always been a supporter of the sign ordinance in Cary because I think it makes it as attractive as it is," he said as his volunteers stifled snickers. "Hopefully, we're complying as much as we can with that."

    So, as much as you can? As much as you can. "I'm sorry Officer, I tried to comply with the DUI laws as much as I can, but that waitress was really cute, soooooo, I had to keep buying drinks."

    ..."To me, if you're running for Town Council, you need to obey the law," council member Jennifer Robinson said recently. "If these people are sincere, they should take down the ones that are illegally posted."

    Amen, and I am sure that all the good people running for office will realize the error of their ways and immediately change their ways.

    "I originally said, 'I will not put any in public right of ways,' " [Jack Smith] said. "But the absence of mine was just too compelling."

    September 15, 2005

    UNC and Duke Hospitals - First Do No Extra

    I just read through a story in the News & Observer concerning UNC Hospital and the loss of a child's fingertip. There are two sides to each story, but in this one, it appears that bureaucracy trumped care.

    I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgement, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. The Original Hippocratic Oath

    One afternoon in March, Claudine Lee rushed her 20-month-old son to the only hospital in rural Bladen County, the tip of his right pinkie hanging by a flap of skin. The emergency physician, Dr. Vicki Lanier, told her the boy, whose finger had been crushed in a door, needed a larger hospital with surgeons who could repair it.

    Lanier tried UNC Hospitals, but a doctor there refused to see the child. She tried Duke, where a doctor agreed to treat Marcus, but only after arguing that UNC should have.

    It is probably an hour and a half drive between UNC and Bladen County Hospital in an ambulance, tops.

    More than seven hours after the accident, a Duke surgeon stitched Marcus's finger back together. But the tissue died; his fingertip eventually was amputated...

    The UNC physician who took Lanier's call, whose full name is not given, told her "it was not appropriate to send the patient" to Chapel Hill, the reports say. He also told her that Bladen County Hospital should have an orthopedic surgeon on call who could evaluate and treat Marcus, according to the report. "They are getting paid to do it," Lanier said the UNC physician told her. UNC, he told her, typically accepts orthopedic transfers only after a local orthopedist has seen the patient and determined that care at UNC is needed. But Bladen County Hospital, which has just 25 beds, does not have a full-time orthopedics department, just visiting orthopedists who come in from outside the county once or twice a week. Lanier explained this to the UNC physician repeatedly, the reports say.

    In the future, McCall said, UNC will accept transfer requests even if there is debate about whether UNC is the best place for the patient to receive care. "We don't want anything like this to happen again," she said.

    Really? How interesting. Go figure.

    When UNC refused Marcus, Lanier paged a Duke orthopedic surgeon, who agreed that Marcus needed to be seen...

    Thank goodness, way to go Duke, let's save this little boy's finger

    But before starting the transfer, the surgeon asked Lanier to call UNC back and demand to know why the boy's injury wasn't worthy of its attention.

    Uhmm, maybe you could find that out AFTER you save his finger?

    He waited to hear back from Lanier, who told him that UNC repeated that the transfer was inappropriate and again refused to treat the child, according to the reports.

    So, okay, UNC f**ked up, let's save the 20-month old boy's finger...

    The Duke surgeon then called Duke's hospital transfer center.

    Really? How interesting. Idiot.

    According to the investigation reports, which quote a transcript of the call, the Duke surgeon said he wanted documentation that UNC had refused to accept the transfer of a 20-month-old child who needed orthopedic services. The surgeon said Duke was "getting dumped on by UNC Hospitals" and that he was "tired of this." Finally, the surgeon asked the Duke transfer center to call Bladen County Hospital and begin the transfer. Marcus then was treated; his finger was stitched back on, not actually reimplanted.

    Can anyone else say, M-A-L-P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E.

    State regulators also reviewed Duke's part in Marcus' treatment. The state recommended that Duke also be found in violation of the federal emergency care law, which also specifies that hospitals may not delay emergency treatment. But the federal government disagreed. Duke officials got a letter from federal regulators in July indicating that Duke had met its obligation to provide care.

    I for one call Bullshit. Duke is every bit as much to blame as UNC. UNC might have made a bad initial decision, but they made it quickly. Duke dragged this shit out for hours and hours, which probably helped in the loss of a 20-month old's fingertip. But, hey, it's just a fingertip and he's only 20 months old - he'll never miss it.

    September 13, 2005

    Why Americans Have It All Wrong

    How many more SUVs, BMWs, Mercedes, beach houses, and face lifts do we need in America?

    How many families do we need to foster and adopt children? Apparently, lots.

    Eleven Children Found Caged in Ohio Home

    Sheriff's deputies found 11 children locked in cages with alarms in a north Ohio home, and prosecutors are looking into possible charges of abuse and neglect.

    The children, ages 1 to 14, were in nine cages in the walls of a house outside this city of about 1,000 about 50 miles west of Cleveland, according to the Huron County Sheriff's Office. They had no blankets or pillows, and the cages were rigged with alarms that sounded if the cages were opened, Lt. Randy Sommers said.

    The children told authorities they slept in the 40-inches-high by 40 inches-deep cages at night. Doors to some of the cages were blocked with heavy furniture.

    Sharen and Mike Gravelle are adoptive or foster parents for all 11 children, officials said. Prosecutors are reviewing the case, but no charges had been filed as of Monday night.

    My wife and I are considering adopting or fostering now, or waiting until our kids are a little older. This kind of disgusting crap makes me realize that NOW is more likely. There is evil in the world, if you doubt that, read the blockquote again...EVIL. The reason these people get away with things like this is simple, because our society does not value the lives of poor children. Children born into poverty, who are taken from their families, or given away by parents who cannot raise them, are considered the dregs of our society. The righteous right would never make this an issue, because in their viewpoint these children must be bad, must have deserved this treatment.

    The only people who can fix this is us, now. Only the Progressive Left with its belief in a caring family, with its belief in equality and equity for all, even the poor, we are the only ones in our society that can make a difference. We must not stand by, we must not focus our lives on more cars, more this, more that, but on raising up those who are less fortunate. Only then can we be truly Progressive, only then can we shame the Righteous Right, who care only about the birth of fetuses and not about what happens afterwards.

    September 02, 2005

    Natural Disaster vs. National Disaster

    For those wondering why the government, including sock puppet Scotty McClellan, are focusing on the Natural Disaster meme: From September 1, 2005 Press Conference with Scott McClellan

    Q Scott, I know the President obviously is focused on response efforts right now, but can I talk to you about preparedness? Is the President satisfied with the way assets were pre-positioned, specifically in those areas like New Orleans and Mississippi, New Orleans particularly, a place that was identified by the Red Cross as being particularly vulnerable because of its geographical location. Is the President satisfied?

    MR. McCLELLAN: ...This is not a time to get into any finger pointing or politics or anything of that nature. This is a time to make sure all our resources available are focused where they need to be, and that is on the people who have been displaced or the people who have been otherwise affected by this natural disaster. And that's exactly what we're doing.
    I think on Tuesday everybody recognized that this -- if not sooner -- that this natural disaster is unprecedented. It is, as I said, perhaps the, if not -- certainly one of, if not the, worst natural disasters in our nation's history.

    Natural Disaster - There is nothing we could do, it is an act of God. Any suggestion of blame is sacrilege.

    National Disaster - Nation = United States; United States = President; President = George W. Bush; GWB = Republican; therefore, National Disaster = Republican Disaster

    View Original

    Katrina was a Natural Disaster, from yesterday on is a National Disaster. It is now Friday and there are still tens of thousands of people stranded in Katrina's wake. Hundreds of thousands without food and water. Millions without power. Reports saying that at one sight, hundreds of elderly and infants have died from exposure. THAT is a National Disaster based, once again, on poor planning by Nero, who diddled while Katrina churned.

    President Bush Playing a Little Guitar AFTER Hurricane Katrina Hits

    September 01, 2005

    David Brooks, The Johnstown Flood, and Hell To Pay

    I started off calling this diary David Brooks is a Goddamn Liar based on his opinion piece in the New York Times.  However, while he does let a lie slip through early in his opinion, the rest of the piece reads fairly well.

    He begins by discussing the Johnstown flood, based upon his reading of David McCullough's book of the same name.  While McCullough is famous for a variety of books now (John Adams, 1776), I first heard of him when I picked up The Johnstown Flood book back in 1996.  So, a little about the Johnstown flood from Brooks.

    In 1889 in Pennsylvania, a great flood washed away much of Johnstown. The water's crushing destruction sounded to one person like a "lot of horses grinding oats." Witnesses watched hundreds of people trapped on a burning bridge, forced to choose between burning to death or throwing themselves into the churning waters to drown.

    The flood was so abnormal that the country seemed to have trouble grasping what had happened. The national media were filled with wild exaggerations and fabrications: stories of rivers dammed with corpses, of children who died while playing ring-around-the-rosy and who were found with their hands still clasped and with smiles still on their faces.

    If it sounds bad, but not hideous, you're wrong.

    It has been described as a rolling hill of debris (trees, trains, tracks, boulders, houses, people), 40 feet high and a half-mile wide.

    Then, as David McCullough notes in "The Johnstown Flood," public fury turned on the Pittsburgh millionaires whose club's fishing pond had emptied on the town. The Chicago Herald depicted the millionaires as Roman aristocrats, seeking pleasure while the poor died like beasts in the Coliseum.

    Even before the flood, public resentment was building against the newly rich industrialists. Protests were growing against the trusts, against industrialization and against the new concentrations of wealth. The Johnstown flood crystallized popular anger, for the fishing club was indeed partly to blame. Public reaction to the disaster helped set the stage for the progressive movement and the trust-busting that was to come.

    Actually, the fishing club was totally to blame.  The fishing pond was large enough to house a paddle-wheel river boat, sat on top of a mountain, behind a day.  It was the club's responsibility to maintain the dam. The dam was allowed to fall into disrepair because it was going to cost too much to do the repairs.  This from the wealthiest men in the world.  The crest of the dam was allowed to droop and the flood gates were allowed to fall into disrepair.  Had it not been for those actions, MAYBE the flood would never have happened.

    This incredible painting gives the best indication of what happened.


    BTW, What an Incredible Site

    So, that is the lie, that Mellon, Frick, Carnegie and the gang of robber barons had a little bit to do with the Johnstown Flood.  They were negligent and responsible.

    However, I have to say that the rest of the article seems to suggest that their will be hell to pay for this flood.  Most surprising, he seems to suggest that it is the current administration that will pay said hell.

    Then in 1927, the great Mississippi flood rumbled down upon New Orleans. As Barry writes in his account, "Rising Tide," the disaster ripped the veil off the genteel, feudal relations between whites and blacks, and revealed the festering iniquities. Blacks were rounded up into work camps and held by armed guards. They were prevented from leaving as the waters rose. A steamer, the Capitol, played "Bye Bye Blackbird" as it sailed away. The racist violence that followed the floods helped persuade many blacks to move north.

    Civic leaders intentionally flooded poor and middle-class areas to ease the water's pressure on the city, and then reneged on promises to compensate those whose homes were destroyed. That helped fuel the populist anger that led to Huey Long's success. Across the country people demanded that the federal government get involved in disaster relief, helping to set the stage for the New Deal...

    Civic arrangements work or they fail. Leaders are found worthy or wanting. What's happening in New Orleans and Mississippi today is a human tragedy. But take a close look at the people you see wandering, devastated, around New Orleans: they are predominantly black and poor. The political disturbances are still to come.

    August 31, 2005



    Ferrell Blount is the Chairman of the NCRP, a.k.a. The Evil Empire. He is downright nasty, both inside and outside his own party. But, this is just funny, and what makes Ferrell Blount the proud recipient of my Ass Hat award. You see Tim Dunn just signed up to run against Robin Hayes in the 2006 election. Robin Hayes is dirty. He has lied to his constituents and voted for CAFTA. Robin Hayes is going down. So, what is Ferrell's response:

    I read with great interest your announcement to enter the race for Congress in the 8th District...After a quick review of your Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports from the last time you ran, I see that you have not filed any reports since 1999. However, the final report you filed did not indicate that you were terminating your committee. You reported cash on hand and more than $18,000 in debts. Presumably, you are aware that “[d]ebts and obligations owed by or to a political committee which remain outstanding shall be continuously reported until extinguished.” 11 CFR § 104.11(a)...As an attorney, you should know that candidates and citizens don’t get the luxury of following the law only so long as it is convenient. As someone who said, “What Congress needs is more North Carolina values and less Washington politics,” you should stop talking to people about values until you at least come into compliance with the basic laws of the nation. As a native North Carolinian, I can assure you that your actions do not reflect the values of this state.

    Ass-Hat. Your best response is to dredge up $18,000 in debt that may or may not have been paid for by now. Dunn's camp has denied the charge and, correctly, interpreted this as an attack to take away notice from the recent CAFTA LIE by Hayes. Let me tell you what North Carolina values don't include.
    * Shifting the tax burden onto working people and off of wealth gatherers.
    * Sending troops into harms way without the proper equipment or a plan to win.
    * No-bid contracts to Halliburton.
    * An Energy bill that gives big-time handouts to OIL COMPANIES that are collecting record profits.
    * No Child Left Behind, being left behind because of a lack of funding.

    August 30, 2005

    NC gets a Lottery Like It Or Not

    The North Carolina Assembly just voted 24-24 to have a lottery, with Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue breaking the tie in favor of Governor Easley.  The vote is normally 24-26, but two Republican Senators were not able to make the unusual session (sickness and HONEYMOON).  The Progressive Viewpoint on the lottery is something I just don't get.  Let me begin by saying I'm not sure how I feel about the backdoor politics played here to get the lottery in North Carolina.  This is exactly the sort of thing that Republicans do to win ALL the time, so perhaps it is long overdue for Democrats to win at all costs.

    I'm against raising the sales tax because it is regressive, you have no choice but to buy in our economy.  Poor people pay more of their salary in sales taxes than rich people, so that isn't fair.  But, the lottery is a choice.  On the conservative side, I can understand those that think gambling is a mortal sin, so they oppose it on those grounds.  

    But, the argument from Progressives that we shouldn't have a lottery because it is regressive doesn't work for me.  Ignore how the lottery income is spent for a minute, which I don't agree with (based on previous attempts, still looking for the wording of what passed), and focus on the lottery itself.

    It is a sticky wicket being a Progressive.  Our pro-life movement (vs. the Conservative pro-birth movement) insists that a woman's body is her own and that she has the free will to make her own choices.  Our Human Rights movement (vs. the Conservative Gay Bashing movement) insists that government has no business interfering in the private lives of others.  Yet, when it comes to the lottery, Progressives feel that the poor need protecting, because the lottery takes advantage of them.  Where is the free will and private lives for those people?  Or, do WE know better than THOSE poor people, so they need our protection.

    What arrogance, what stupidity.  I don't think this is an issue you can pick and choose - CHOICE.

    This is a topic larger than abortion or the lottery, it is about personal responsibility and how much say government should have over our lives.

    On a more local note, I recently got some gas out in the country here in North Carolina.  I asked the attendant what he thought about the lottery.  His reponse was that it would be good for business and it would mean he didn't have to drive to Virginia anymore to buy tickets.  We're two hours from Virginia!  The people want the lottery.  If you are against gambling as a mortal sin, that I can at least understand.  But, if you are for free will and personal choice, then how can you be against the lottery?

    August 29, 2005

    Hurricane Katrina, Life, Death, Poverty

    Hurricane Katrina has made landfall in Louisiana and is tearing up New Orleans. The prayers of millions are with those unlucky hundreds of thousands that remain in the storms path of destruction. The Superdome has become home to a largely minority population of 30,000 or more. The latest news is that the roof is coming off the Superdome - this could be the greatest tragedy in American history. If the Superdome fails and 30,000 poor people are left open to the wrath of Katrina...

    Pray for these people.

    The death and destruction will not occur only as the storm passes over, but also as it passes beyond, up the Tennessee Valley. The continuous rain will pour into the Mississippi, carrying along toxic waste, trees, crocodiles, snakes, rats, you name it. All of this will rush down and if the dams and levees don't hold, into New Orleans. The punch bowl, waiting at the bottom.

    There are many rural residents with no way out, who hang on to their lives by a thread at this moment. All we can do is hope that the storm will dissipate quickly and that death will be averted.

    August 27, 2005

    The Best We Have To Offer

    From the Raleigh News & Observer .

    CHERRY POINT MARINE CORPS AIR STATION -- Earlier this month, a pair of hulking transport planes touched down and disgorged the newest additions to the Marine Corps helicopter fleet: three MH-53E Sea Dragons that had been sitting in an aircraft "boneyard" in the Arizona desert for about a decade...Restoring the helicopters, which have been out of production since 1999, is an extraordinary step; but the Marines have little choice: They're running out of big choppers...At least part of the solution to the Super Stallion shortage, Milliman said, could involve the Cherry Point depot and the 14 other rebuildable helicopters sitting in the Arizona boneyard, formally called the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center. The boneyard is a combination junkyard and storage lot for military and Coast Guard aircraft that can be brought back into U.S. service or sold to allies.
    There are 4,300 aircraft there dating to 1957, and most are suitable only for parts, said Terry Vanden-Heuvel, a spokeswoman there.

    I can see the ads now.

    Republicans spent billions on tax breaks for tycoons and heiresses...

    While our troops made due with Hillbilly Armor...

    and equipment sent to a desert junk yard 10 years ago.

    What I find fascinating about this is JUST what an egregious example it is of Republican Abuse of Power. There are so many examples to pick from, lack of armor, lack of body armor, etc.  But, there is something special about this one.  It tickles the fancy.  The Republicans buy big fricking SUVs for the private contractors, lose billions of dollars to Halliburton, give no-bid contracts that cost billions more than competitive bids, and then come up short when it is time to support the troops.  What a load of hoo-ey.

    The article goes on to give some reasons for the shortage that is starting and which will continue to grow worse in 2010.

    It will probably be at least 2015 before the replacement choppers are deployed, he said. But the service life of a Super Stallion is 6,120 hours in operation, and current estimates are that the Corps will have to start parking about 15 copters a year in 2010.

    That leaves five years in which the Marines' fleet of heavy lift helicopters will dwindle before replacements start coming into service...Asked whether the helicopter supply would have lasted through that gap without the wars, he said: "That is a reasonable supposition"...Aboulafia, the analyst, said the wars are not the only cause of the chopper shortage. He also blames the long-troubled V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor development program, the costs of which have soared.

    That aircraft -- which can take off like a helicopter, then rotate its engines to go forward like an airplane -- has been in development since 1983. Its setbacks include two crashes in 2000 that killed 23 Marines and a scandal over falsified maintenance records. The program has repeatedly seemed close to being canceled, but now appears on track for full production.

    The Osprey is designated a "medium-lift" aircraft, meaning it carries fewer troops and less cargo than the Super Stallion. It is planned as the replacement for the smaller CH-46 chopper.

    The Marines have spent $13.4 billion on the Osprey, said Ward Carroll, a spokesman for the program. They have spent or obligated $111.8 million for the replacement for the Super Stallion, Milliman said.

    "The Marines have put all their lift eggs in one basket, the V-22," Aboulafia said

    So, while this is the Marine's poor planning coming home to roost, it is also irresponsible for our government NOT to get them new helicopters up and running NOW.  No one even knows how these old copters will function, if at all.  Nor, how long.  The Republicans love to spend money on defense research and things like Star Wars, but when it comes to things that will actually make a difference on the ground, to the troops, they come up short.

    August 25, 2005

    IF State and Church are not Separate, Then Which Church Rules?

    This is a compelling argument that I continually make to myself, without any data to support it.  So, I am mining web pages, thank God for the internets to find out exactly which religion George and company want to saddle us with.  The president and others continually discuss the fact we need more religion in our society, in our schools, in our workplace, in our government.  The big problem with this, the one the Founders saw coming WAY back, was - which religion?  What about those who don't believe or agree with that religion?  Forget all the talk about Family Values, this is about setting up an American Religion one baby step at a time.

    Okay, so here are the facts.  There are about a million ways to read the various statistics, but this is one of them.  

    George, Jerry, Pat, and Rick should quickly agree on the following premises (denotes percentage of Americans STILL represented by our National Religion based on the following premises):

    • Our National Religion will NOT be Judaism (98.6)

    • Our National Religion will NOT be Islam (98)

    • Our National Religion will NOT represent Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, anything but Christianity (79.8)

    • Protestant teachings believed by Bushco insist that the Pope is the antichrist, therefore, Our National Religion will NOT represent Catholics (54)

    • Oh hell, let's get to the point, if you aren't Protestant, your burning in hell. (42.5)

    • The Episcopalian/Anglican church has a gay bishop, and the UCC allows gay marriage (40)

    Okay, here is where it gets difficult.  How do you cull down the remainder?  I'm looking for votes that show a trend opposite what the right-wingers would want.

    • Methodists - Despite opposition from approximately one-third of the church's members, the General Conference of 2000 upheld the ban on gay and lesbian marriages.  (38)

    • Presbyterian - / Leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) have voted overwhelmingly to overturn a ban on ordaining homosexuals as ministers of the church, by a 317-208 vote/ (36)

    • Now, to be lazy, I'm going to take the average of the 33% and 60% from above and lump that onto all the other denominations, even the Baptists (16.74)

    Okay.  It got kind of iffy there at the end, but it is hard to find statistics for this kind of data.  Pam in Durham has a diary, which suggests I might be too kind with my numbers.  Only 22% of Evangelical Christians believe you will go to hell without Christ in your life.  

    The long and the short of it is this, if people accept that there should be no split between Church and State, then the Church State we will end up with might represent less than 20% of the American people.  This is exactly why the Founding Fathers declared a separation between the two, because THIS was to be a country where every person had their voice heard and every idea could be debated, no matter WHAT a certain religion might think.

    To those who go along with the flow NOW because they aren't gay, or they don't like abortion, I will close with this life lesson.

    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;

    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;

    Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    - Martin Niemoller

    Don't doubt that your day is coming.

    Click to enlarge

    August 15, 2005

    When Terror Comes, Don't Forget Who Failed Us.

    Every couple of months I like to post a diary on this issue, here there, or anywhere.  You see, terror will come to the United States, and it will kill lots of innocent men, women, and children.  When it comes, I believe two lamps will be lit, as it will come by Sea.

    Site Link

    So, who failed us?

    Poor man's missile.

    In the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, container security has become a fragile thing because of its potential in being used as a weapon-delivery device for explosives and hazardous materials. A single incident triggered from a conventional weapon going off in a box can literally bring worldwide intermodal transport to its knees, said US Homeland Security director Jeane K. Kirkpatrick.

    Container security is making sure goods loaded in a box are legitimate and authorized from its point of origin to final destination. Ninety percent of the world's freight move in containers but its vulnerability remains a worldwide dilemma.

    Would-be terrorists have all the opportunity and motive to tamper and load containers with weapons of mass destruction. Kirkpatrick said the almost complete absence of security oversight in loading and transporting a box plus the growing volume and velocity at which containers move, give terrorists ample opportunities to tamper or load boxes with destructive material. Scenarios of explosive and weapons-laden containers are conceivable and real in Cebu with the absence of security measures at the port or the intermodal transport industry that screens container integrity.

    While containers have been considered a "poor man's missile," what motivates terrorists to use these are its profound effect on economic disruption. Kirkpatrick said that other than the substantial loss of life from attacks done in containers, it also puts much of the freight movements that make up international trade at the mercy of terrorists.

    In other words, 90% of the worlds trade is done in containers.  WHEN the terrorists blow up a container it will mean all container traffic will be halted for some period - just like airline traffic.  Say hello to the Great Depression, Part Deux.  When will you be ready to have a container travel down your street?  

    You see, that is the scary thing about containers, they are everywhere.  Start looking as you drive and you'll notice them.  At the grocery store, on the highway during rush hour, in downtown Manhattan, in downtown Punxsutawney.  They are everywhere.  Millions of them are in the United States everyday and we check almost NONE OF THEM.  And so it goes, one day a container will be loaded with explosives, shipped overseas, loaded onto a truck and driven into downtown (insert your city here) and exploded.  

    If we are lucky it will only be an explosion.  If we are unlucky it will be a dirty bomb, or will target a bridge

    Or a large building.

    Or a high school football game.

    No matter what it targets, we can't forget who failed to protect us.  Every single elected official in Washington.  Yes, it is largely the Republicans fault for not sponsoring and funding a law that requires some type of screening for ALL containers.  But, if Democratic Senators had any balls, they could shut down the Senate until such a bill was introduced, passed, and funded.  What American would not stand behind that action.  It isn't about Supreme Court Justices, or U.N. Nominees, it is about American safety.  

    Not to say that Homeland Security hasn't beefed up its staff.  My own Senator, Elizabeth Dole, has seen to it that Homeland Security is spending more money searching containers with agents who are specially trained to find dangerous...

    Senator Elizabeth Dole - "I am pleased that the Administration now recognizes the problem of transshipment and is hiring Customs agents to focus specifically on keeping out illegal textiles, as directed by Congress," said Senator Dole. "Especially with the expiration of quotas, our textile industry needs trade agreements to be strictly enforced."

    On March 7, 2005, Senator Dole wrote Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calling for the department to explain why money Congress appropriated specifically for hiring Customs agents assigned to keep out illegal textile transshipments was not being used for that very purpose. During the past two years, Senator Dole has helped secure congressional funding for the hiring of these agents...

    So, how about some agents to check out containers for bombs?

    President Bill Clinton, 2004 Democratic Convention - On homeland security -- on homeland security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for weapons of mass destruction. It cost a billion dollars. It would have been paid for under our bill by asking the 200,000 millionaires in America to cut their tax cut by $5,000. Almost all 200,000 of us would like to have done that, to spend $5,000 to make all 300 million Americans feel safer. The measure failed. Why? Because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives opposed it. They thought our $5,000 was more important than doubling the container checks at our ports and airports.

    There are nearly 300 million Americans.  We all want to feel safe.  How about a $5 tax on all Americans, across the board to secure our ports and borders?  How about a $50 tax on all businesses to secure our ports and borders?  

    When the time comes and the bomb explodes, I will forgive no one.  Senators and Representatives alike are responsible for the terror that will hit our shores, yet they do nothing to stop it.

    August 05, 2005

    Support Jon Tester - MT Senate

    I ran a bake sale over at DailyKos some time ago to see whom the grassroots would support. Well, they voted overwhelmingly for Jon Tester. But, only two people other than myself contributed. A shame.

    Jon Tester was born in Havre, Montana on August 21, 1956, and raised near the town of Big Sandy, Montana, (population: 710) on the same family land that his grandfather homesteaded in 1916.

    Tester grew up in Chouteau County, where the rich landscape and life as a farmer’s son instilled in him a deep-rooted conviction to Montana, family, faith and hard work.

    Today Jon Tester continues to honor the agricultural roots his grandfather planted in Big Sky Country by continuing the Tester family dry-land farming operations. Tester also was a custom butcher operator.

    A respected member in the community, Tester served for five years as chairman of the Big Sandy School Board of Trustees, is a past master of Treasure Lodge #95 of the Masons in Big Sandy, and served on the Big Sandy Soil Conservation Service (SCS) Committee and the Chouteau County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) Committee.

    Tester is a former music teacher in the Big Sandy School District and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in music from the University of Great Falls.

    Since the late 1980s Tester has put his stamp of leadership on the family farm by moving toward organic farming. The Tester family now grows organic wheat, barley, lentils, peas, millet, buckwheat, alfalfa and hay.

    I recommend supporting Jon and giving the Senate Democrats a strong Western Voice:

    My contribution: $

    European Style Vacation

    For years now we have heard from the Neoconservative Republican Movement that Old Europe gets it all wrong. They are lazy, they have bad habits, and they do not share our work ethic. Well, as our parents always told us, actions speak louder than words. None other than our own Republican President, George W. Bush, is taking a European-style 5-week vacation from his place of work. Five weeks! That is more vacation than most of us get in a year. The Presidency is a harrowing job, and as such no one should deny the President his due R&R. But, five weeks away from his job in the midst of a war, isn't that odd?

    How does our Commander-in-Chief plan on explaining this to the troops, that his job is "hard work"? In fact, this President has spent more than 20% of his time in office at his ranch in Crawford. Thus, if you add in his time in Kennebunkport and elsewhere on vacation, the man has spent well over 20% of his Presidency just chilling. This is yet another example of Republican lawmakers being two-faced. They rail against minimum wage hikes, and then give themselves a big pay raise. They rail against healthcare for all, yet have the greatest healthcare plan in the world. They decry vacation time and overtime as a waste of productivity and harmful to good business practice, then sanction the longest Presidential vacation in 30 years.

    July 26, 2005

    The American Dream Rediscovered

    Click to enlarge

    I grew up in a poor rural area.  Coal mines dominated the landscape and the houses carried a gray tint from tri-axles spewing coal dust throughout the day.  The mines left in the era of Reaganomics and so did the jobs.  My dad was a foreman at a mine when it closed in 1985 making $33,000, he made $5000 the next year selling tires. He now runs a logging equipment company and if he's lucky he MIGHT be back up to $33K after 20 years.  

    I went to a small school, graduated 63 people, of which over half went to college.  Parents knew that you HAD to get your kids into college and you HAD to get them out of town.  Not one parent in my town had a college education, not one.  The American Dream is for every child to have a better life than their parents - it's that simple.  In my town that meant getting out and getting educated.  

    Many of my friends didn't take the opportunity.  When I go home I see them.  I see them going into bars at lunchtime, I see them driving 30 miles to the nearest Wal-Mart to make $9 an hour, I see them out in the snow patching up broken-down cars.  They are lost and they know it.  No future.  The 1000 mile stare.  


    In an urban area they probably would have turned to drugs and gangs, but in the country they turned to McDonald's and cheap beer.  They don't think they are going to end up in jail, but I don't think they plan for a future either.  When you have no future, to what do you turn?  

    In our American Society there is always a quest to get ahead, a quest to be more, be better.  There is no satisfaction with today, there is only longing for the better tomorrow.  In part, it is this drive that has made the U.S. so competitive and so successful over the years.  But, the result of this societal drive is that those who feel they have reached their limits are driven to distract themselves from reality.  Lottery tickets, alcohol, drugs, crime - all ways to ignore the future.

    My wife was in the Peace Corps in Morocco, where she lived in a throwback town high in the Atlas Mountains.  These people had NO future in the American sense, and yet they were happy.  Why?  Because their thoughts were on the day, on the crops, what needed to be done today to survive through the harsh winter?  There was a real sense of community because they shared everything, their fields, their orchards, their animals, their chores, their love, their sadness, their religion.  Don't scoff at the religion you non-believers!  Ask yourself this, what would America be like if EVERY citizen took five 15-minute breaks throughout the day to silently pray or meditate on the world at large?  Your first thoughts of the day and your last would be of peace and hope - not a bad idea, huh?  They were happy because they were focused on LIFE, real life right there in front of them.  With no future but survival they were content.  Content equals happy.  

    Economists today think that we are on the right track - that we are heading in the right direction.  They don't understand the pessimism, because they have never reached the point of having no future.  Wages are growing at their slowest rate in a generation and minimum wage is well below a living wage, so now more people are falling into poverty.  Health care costs are out of control and as such, more people can't take care of their basic health needs.  Jobs are moving overseas or being cut to improve Wall Street expectations, which means more citizens can't rent a movie for their kids, go to the local amusement park this summer, or buy decent back-to-school clothes.  Have you been the kid in the pleather sneakers from Payless?  Who did you take it out on, your friends or your parents?  There is no future for America's workers, and because of this there is no hope in America.

    The American Dream is dead and gone.  No longer do citizens dream of a brighter future for their children, instead visions of the Lottery, American Idol, and Survivor fame float through our children's heads.  And, we let it.  Why not, what did the American Dream get us?  Poverty, hunger, strife.  The Republican Party has done a good job convincing people that if you have not achieved the American Dream then you are weak and lazy, morally bankrupt.  Moreover, they have redefined the American Dream for adults, so that it is not about your children, it is about your possessions.  In their Dream everyone can have a new set of fancy-looking steak knives from Wal-Mart and a new lawn mower every few years from Lowe's, everyone can have 300 television channels, and everyone can lease a new car.  In exchange, all they ask is that you give them the American Dream.  Turn over your future and the future of your children in exchange for these magic beans - and pay no mind to the man behind the curtain - even if they are just cheap plastic knock-offs made in Sri Lanka.  You there, textile worker in North Carolina, have another cheap NASCAR shirt made in China, never mind the loss of your job, Wal-Mart has a sale on real, imitation, leather suitcases for when your house is foreclosed.

    The role of the Democratic Party that is too avoided or overlooked is to win back the American Dream.  Taking back the ideal that each generation can be better off than the one before.  Isn't that what we are up against?  Do we not face a party that is in search of Aristocracy, a party that wants a wealthy ruling class and an impoverished working class?  Will new members be welcome to the Aristocracy?  Not likely.  You will be smashed out of existence by Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble's, and Starbucks.  The Democratic Party must fight for the American Dream, that is our framing, that is our message, no half-measures.  

    Look no further for your message Democrats, whether DNC, DLC, NDN, or NPA, this is what America expects from you.  The lack of any real effort to make our lives better on a day-to-day basis is why no one trusts or cares about government anymore.  If you want to make America better, then do it.  Stop talking about it, stop framing it, do something about it.  Something real.  Reach out to your fellow citizens with real change, reach out to them with a new American Dream that this next generation will have a better life than ANY previous generation.

    • We fight for a living wage for all Americans that work a 40-hour week.  

    • We fight for access to health care for all Americans.  

    • We fight for freedom of small businesses to flourish under the heat of competition.  

    • We fight for the future, we fight for hope, and we fight for the American Dream.

    July 25, 2005

    Hayes in Hot Seat

    This article does a good job of pointing out why Robin Hayes is in the electoral hot seat. I have other articles here and here that also show why we should be gunning for Hayes. The CAFTA vote will do nothing to endear him to his District voters either.

    Hayes' seat a battleground again
    Both parties already pouring cash, attention into 8th District race
    Observer Washington Bureau

    WASHINGTON - A re-election bid by GOP Rep. Robin Hayes of Concord is again shaping up as one of the 20 or so House races both parties will be watching -- and trying to shape -- as they fight for control of the House in 2006.

    The signs aren't hard to find:

    Hayes is getting money from corporate PACs...Hayes is on both parties' lists mostly because he's a Republican representing a district with many more registered Democrats (195,452) than Republicans (118,069). Unaffiliated voters in the 8th District total 71,963...On top of the discontent with Bush, Democrats hope to use Hayes' recent votes and comments -- including his assertion on CNN that Saddam Hussein had a role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- to cast him as an out-of-the-mainstream Republican.

    ...Hoping to scare away any formidable Democratic opposition, national Republicans and their allies have already begun funneling money to Hayes' campaign. He is among 18 House Republicans receiving contributions from the so-called "Million Dollar Club" -- a dozen business PACs representing Wal-Mart, R.J. Reynolds, UPS, Pfizer and others.

    ...Those at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, meanwhile, have sent a barrage of news releases saying Hayes' votes and comments place him far to the right of even fellow Republicans.

    One highlights his June vote against a measure to block the United States from transferring prisoners to foreign governments that may torture them. The amendment to an appropriations bill passed 415-8.

    "A lot of these (Hayes) votes we've questioned are not Democratic or Republican issues," says Bill Burton, a DCCC spokesman. "Take the torture vote. More than 99 percent of the members disagreed with Hayes on that. ... It just shows that he's out of the mainstream."

    Hayes says he's "obviously against torture," but considered the amendment -- from Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. -- a "very poor political effort to embarrass" U.S. troops.

    Why did so many other Republicans -- 215 -- vote for it?

    "It was the easy way to go," says Hayes. "Stay out of controversy."

    Deadbeat Parents

    Johnston presses for payment
    Sheriff's deputies rounded up two dozen parents who have not paid child support
    I was just reading this story in the News & Observer about Johnston County Sheriff's rounding up deadbeat parents. As is so common in today's media, the story gives equal weight to both sides of the issue and fails to reach any conclusions.

    Armed with arrest warrants for 185 moms and dads who have skipped out on child support payments, deputies knocked on doors before folks began stirring for the day. By 2:30 a.m., deputies hauled 24, including six women, to the county jail to settle their tabs.

    "It's amazing how they can't come up with the money until they get behind bars," said Sheriff Steve Bizzell, who called for Sunday's roundup after the delinquent accounts started piling up at the county child support enforcement office.

    OK, so I agree with this. That is why we call them Deadbeat Dads, and from the looks of it, Deadbeat Moms. But, then comes this story aimed at tugging at your heartstrings.
    Carolyn Best, wiping sleep from her eyes, shuffled to a holding cell and stretched out on a belly swollen with ovarian tumors. Best, of 827 Ward St. in Smithfield, owed $548 to the grandmother of her 14-year-old, who had custody of the child for a while in 2004. Currently out of work to care for another sick child, Best couldn't figure out how she would settle up.

    "Every time I go to court, I tell them I can't pay for it, but they just keep demanding it," said Best, a 34-year-old mother of five.

    She'd pay this time with her freedom. Failure to comply with court orders to pay child support will keep her in jail for 30 days. She hoped a friend would look after her toddler until she got out.

    Well, it worked. I feel sorry for this woman and it makes me wonder about the jaded nature of the night's work and our system. But, you know what. I'm not going to wuss out like that. What these Sheriff's did was a good thing. If you have a child, you have a moral and legal obligation to take care of that child. Ms. Best is an exception to the rule, perhaps given her healthcare issues she should be let off the hook. But, then who takes care of her other child? A grandmother? How is she to pay. She is "hoping" that a friend will look after her toddler? I'm certainly hoping that child services keeps tabs - what exactly does she think will happen to her toddler if her friend doesn't help?

    If it takes getting thrown in jail or threatened with that action to get parents to pay, then so be it. Are there exceptions to the rule, of course. Ms. Best is one such exception, she should not be in jail given her condition. But, that does not detract from the overall good that comes from waking up Deadbeat Parents to the fact that they must pay for the children they brought into this world.

    July 21, 2005

    Easley Moves Ahead on Education

    Governor Mike Easley (NC) sent $75 Million to the state's schools today without legislature approval - Good For Him! The legislature has been caught up in a fight between Democrats and Democrats. The sticking point appears to be taxes, Democrats want tax breaks for the rich and corporations with savings through Medicaid cuts, while Democrats want no Medicaid cuts nor tax cuts for the rich. It appears everyone wants tax cuts for corporations. Go figure.

    The Republicans? They don't care, we're killing ourselves, why should they bother.

    The state is under a court order to make schools better for the poor and not just for the wealthiest North Carolinians. The Easley money goes to:

    * $22.5 million to continue a fund for disadvantaged students in 16 of the state's poorest districts. Easley initiated funding for that purpose last year, after the legislature adjourned without acting on it.

    * A $16.6 million increase in money the state distributes to about 70 "low wealth" school districts, where local resources for schools fall below the state average. Last year, those districts got $109 million, and Easley has proposed that the allocation be raised in the 2006-07 fiscal year by $42 million.

    * $16.6 million to expand More at Four, increasing enrollment capacity for 4-year-olds by 3,200. Last year, the program received about $49 million and reached about 13,600 children.

    * Nearly $6 million on high school reform projects, including 15 small-scale "Learn and Earn" schools that will be cooperative ventures with community colleges. There will also be 11 other smaller high schools oriented toward particular economic-development themes, such as health science.

    * $11 million for an initiative to open 100 school-based child and family support teams through the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

    July 19, 2005

    Political Parties

    This is a great feature in the Raleigh News & Observer.


    Lawmakers supportive of the Conservation Council of North Carolina were treated to crab cakes, sushi, cheese ravioli and beer and wine at a reception Wednesday night in the Raleigh home of council president Nina Szlosberg.

    The reception listed Speaker Pro Tempore Richard Morgan, Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, House Majority Leader Joe Hackney and Rep. Jim Harrell, a Surry County Democrat who leads the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, as special guests.

    During the day, the N.C. Dairy Producers Association provided ice cream to lawmakers and their staffs as part of the annual milk chugging contest.

    It's interesting. Normally the column covers gifts from major corporations and business interest groups, yet today the focus is on the Conservation Council. Look for an update on this page of what the Conservation Council is, what bills it supports, and the vote tallies.

    Elect Paul Hackett (OH-2) - Watch Commercial

    Click here to view the Commercial

    June 22, 2005

    Neocons Lie About PBS...on PBS

    I saw this interview on Lehrer last night, another one of those with an interviewer, a neocon nut job, and a moderate.  The interview, on PBS, revolved around PBS, its funding and whether or not it was worth having around.  The guests (as you already know if you clicked above) were George Neumayr, executive editor of the American Spectator Magazine and neocon nutjob extraordinare, and KCPT in Kansas City President and C.E.O. Bill Reed.

    The gall  of the neo-con was in clear view, but what was most intriguing was the absolute idiocy of his attack.  If anything, his ridiculous theatrics would only embolden the viewers.  One of the more telling exchanges is quoted en masse below, and links to all the relevant information to show just how ... relevant, PBS is today.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Sorry, I was going to ask the broader question, because some people have raised whether there is a role for public broadcasting at all today.

    GEORGE NEUMAYR: Well, I think the question should be raised. Why are the American people financing with their tax dollars programming that offends them? Why are they picking up the tab for Bill Moyers? I've never heard a good answer to that question.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Mr. Reed.

    BILL REED: You know, Bill Moyers is -- Bill Moyers is not even on the air anymore, and you keep saying, you know, Pick up the tab for this liberal broadcasting network, when study after study has shown otherwise, and you can't put anything forward except your opinion about --

    GEORGE NEUMAYR: Well, study after study shows the American people aren't watching PBS.

    BILL REED: No, that's not true. At any given night, all the 500 channels you talk about on cable if you want to measure any one of those channels against public broadcasting, you'll see their audiences are minuscule.

    But let me answer the question about why we need public broadcasting. I think if you ask parents of young children that question they'd give you a lot of reasons. We still have the best non-commercial, nonviolent, educational children's programming anywhere on television.

    And secondly, in our prime-time schedules and our public affairs -- including Now -- Frontline may be the best documentary series on television ever, American Experience, this program - the NewsHour - Nature, Nova, all these programs, you cannot find them anywhere else on the commercial dial. But let me tell you one other thing that makes us distinctive from all the other program services.

    They do not have a presence in Kansas City. We are a local community asset. We provide programs and services to the community -- for example, we serve 200,000 K-12 students in Kansas and Missouri. We have a collaborative effort with nine area colleges and universities that result in 50,000 people getting distance education every year.

    We're currently doing a demonstration with data-casting with our digital transmitter, with homeland security. And you don't have enough time on this program for me to tell you all the other local programs and services we have here. Those are big reasons why this country still needs public broadcasting.

    In addition, I couldn't find a good link to this information, so I will post it here piecemeal.  

    The total viewer numbers for the evening news...

    A description of PBS viewership...


    The audience trends for the The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which started in 1973 as The Robert MacNeil Report and later became the half-hour MacNeil/Lehrer Report, stand in striking contrast to those of commercial network television. Data published in the PBS National Audience Handbook show that NewsHour ratings were remarkably stable over the five years from 1998 to 2003, averaging a 1.2 household rating. According to PBS, that translates to roughly 2.7 million viewers each weeknight and more than 8 million different or "unduplicated" viewers who watch at least one night a week.15 That is still significantly smaller than even third-place CBS. But the NewsHour's ability to hold its audience distinguishes it in network nightly news.


    At a time when Nightline and other magazine programs are having difficulty, and commercial nightly newscasts are hemorrhaging audience, the NewsHour's numbers suggests a health that is unusual.

    June 21, 2005

    Is Charles Taylor Responsible for Slashing NPR and PBS?

    The House has just voted to slash Public Broadcasting funding by $100 million, which is 25% of the total funding. This cut is MUCH larger than the cuts that are occurring in other areas of the budget, and as such represent a partisan attack against our national broadcasting system.
    No other station has educational programs for your children, especially without the constant advertising breaks that destroy their ability to focus and learn.

    For WUNC, the loss would amount to $400,000 less in CPB grants, general manager Joan Siefert Rose said. That represents 6 percent to 7 percent of the station's budget.

    Rose said conversion to digital programming as well as capital improvements to the station probably would feel the biggest pinch. Spokespeople for the Triangle's other NPR affiliates, WSHA and WNCU, could not be reached for comment.

    UNC-TV would lose $750,000 in CPB grants, spokesman Steve Volstad said.

    Volstad said the station would also lose $60,000 in "Ready to Learn" program funding. The funds pay outreach workers to travel around the state and educate day care workers on how best to use UNC-TV as an educational tool.

    North Carolina Representative David Price condemned these actions, however his counterpart on the committee, Republican Charles Taylor did nothing to end the cuts.

    UPDATE: Funding for PBS has been added back to the budget by a bi-partisan vote of 284-140. Bipartisan everywhere but in North Carolina. Right-wing(nut) Howard Coble was the only Republican to cross party lines and vote for restoring Public Broadcasting.

    Don't fall for Charles Taylor's new act as Moderate voice, he remains a right-wing(nut) Neocon who votes lock-step with Tom DeLay and his master Grover Norquist.

    June 20, 2005

    Who is Bill Faison, and when did he become a Republican?

    I was just reading through a legislative roundup over at the Raleigh News & Observer, when I noticed something unsettling.

    Bill Faison (D) from Orange County voted against EVERY Democratic agenda item mentioned, and WITH the Republicans on every item. The Democratic voters are italicized.

    STATE BUDGET ACT (Senate Bill 622, House Version): Makes base budget appropriations of $17.1 billion for current operations of state departments, institutions and agencies. Introduced by Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth. Adopted 62-58. Returned to the Senate for concurrence.

    VOTING YES: Bernard Allen (D-Wake), Lucy Allen (D-Franklin, Halifax, Nash), Linda Coleman (D-Wake), Joe Hackney (D-Orange, Chatham, Moore), Verla Insko (D-Orange), Paul Luebke (D-Durham), Grier Martin (D-Wake), Mickey Michaux (D-Durham), Paul Miller (D-Durham), Deborah Ross (D-Wake), Jennifer Weiss (D-Wake), W.A. "Winkie" Wilkins (D-Durham, Person)

    VOTING NO: Russell Capps (R-Wake), Leo Daughtry (R-Johnston), Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), Rick Eddins (R-Wake), Bill Faison (D-Orange, Caswell), James Langdon Jr. (R-Johnston, Sampson), Paul Stam (R-Wake)

    * BUDGET AMENDMENT NO. 6: Eliminates additional funding for the Global Transpark through 2007. Offered by Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake. Failed 37-82.

    VOTING YES: Capps, Dollar, Eddins, Faison, Martin, Stam

    VOTING NO: Bernard Allen, Lucy Allen, Coleman, Daughtry, Hackney, Insko, Langdon, Luebke, Michaux, Miller, Ross, Weiss, Wilkins

    * BUDGET AMENDMENT NO. 9: Provides funding to counties to offset their share of Medicaid expenditures. Offered by Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie. Failed 58-61.

    VOTING YES: Capps, Daughtry, Dollar, Eddins, Faison, Langdon, Miller, Stam

    VOTING NO: Bernard Allen, Lucy Allen, Coleman, Hackney, Insko, Luebke, Martin, Michaux, Ross, Weiss, Wilkins

    So, who is Bill Faison and exactly why is he a Democrat? I can understand ONE vote here or there, but all of these votes? Isn't he also the man who was behind restructuring Orange County's Commission without the input of the county itself? A restructuring that would lead to more Republican input in the county? If Bill Faison wants to jump ship and become a Republican, more power to him, but he is obviously not a Democrat.

    June 08, 2005

    Last Undecided Race in America - Welcome to Carolina

    --posted at Kos as well--
    The Republicans may have given up in Washington State, but they are still at it in North Carolina.  NC has an elected position for Superintendent of Public Institutions.  In the last election, the race was won by Democrat June Atkinson, but 11,000 provisional ballots have been the cause of a long drawn-out court case that continues today.

    What is most interesting about this case is that because of the battle, the position has had almost all of its power stripped away and there is talk that it should be abolished.  The Republican Supreme Court sided with the Republican that 11,000 ballots from a Democratic County should be thrown out, while the Democratic General Assembly passed a law that voided that ruling.

    This is why all politics begins at the grassroots, this could be a Senator race that we are talking about instead of a Super race.  It could be Erskine Bowles instead of Aaron Burr Richard Burr that we were picking in this election.  We've seen how county commissions rob us of elections when they are controlled by Republicans, and how Republican school boards throw out junk science (Evolution) while focusing on good science (Creationism).  Is there any doubt that your Republican dog-catcher would rather kill your lost dog as a stray than cost the county money feeding and keeping it healthy?  No position too small, no cause too great.

    Bill Fletcher and June Atkinson are still fighting over who won the race for State superintendent of public instruction.

    Now some lawmakers say neither one should be elected.

    The say the position, charged with making sure North Carolina students are learning, has little power and should be taken off the ballot and eliminated or appointed by the Governor. (link)

    RALEIGH - The school year is ending, Election Day was seven months ago, and the race for N.C. school superintendent has yet to be decided.

    A legal battle is raging over at least 11,000 provisional ballots, leaving the superintendent's job the last statewide or federal post in the nation on last fall's ballot to be filled...Democrat June Atkinson, a former schoolteacher, has scolded Republican Bill Fletcher for keeping her from taking office.

    "He has shown a disrespect for North Carolina's children by denying the inevitable and being a sore loser," Atkinson said. "Bill Fletcher has failed to use two important words that should be in his vocabulary -- `I concede.' "

    Fletcher, who trails by 8,535 votes out of more than 3.3 million cast, does not apologize for a legal fight that even has some fellow Republicans privately questioning why the election has dragged on.

    "We filed this protest based on principle and the principles haven't changed," Fletcher said. "We've never dreamed it would go on this long."

    In Washington state, where a courtroom dispute is under way over GOP allegations of fraud and bungling, Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire still managed to take office in January. She was pronounced the winner by 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

    But Atkinson was never sworn in. The N.C. Supreme Court blocked her inauguration even though the State Board of Elections declared her the winner in late November.

    The superintendent's race could finally end in the coming weeks. A panel in the Democratic-controlled legislature is collecting evidence, and the outcome of the contest will be voted on by the whole General Assembly, which under the state constitution has the authority to decide disputed elections.

    Fletcher's beef primarily involves provisional ballots cast outside a voter's precinct. These ballots, which historically have favored Democrats in North Carolina, are included in the current vote totals. Fletcher has consistently said state law does not permit them to be counted.

    The state Supreme Court, on which the Republicans hold a majority, agreed with Fletcher in February. But the General Assembly -- where 92 of the 170 seats are held by Democrats -- passed a law that essentially voided the ruling and intends to pick a winner itself.

    Fletcher argues the legislature's actions are a power grab by the Democrats. But the state Supreme Court has declined to get involved further. (link)