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.