Thursday, May 31, 2007

Doing It The Hard Way

Originally posted by Nadir on

nba_ap_billups_268×380.jpgThe San Antonio Spurs have dispatched of a very tough Utah Jazz team in five games, and will take the next week off waiting to see who their opponent will be in the NBA Finals.

And the Detroit Pistons?

They are struggling their way through another seven game series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Come on, now! Why do the Pistons feel the need to do it the hard way every single year? As much as the Detroit press and Pistons fans complain that the team is often guilty of taking the night off to its detriment, they have not changed that perception.

Many pundits are blaming Chauncey Billups, the team's leader, for the sub-standard performance. Not only is “Mr. Big Shot” not living up to his name, some say he is making poor decisions and playing without the heart necessary to win a championship.

So what gives, Chauncey? Are you more concerned about your impending free agency than another championship? What are you doing?

“I made a couple bad plays, but that’s going to happen. I’m human,” Billups said Wednesday. “I know I spoiled y’all, not ever missing at the end of the game, but it’s going to happen. It’s no big deal.”

No big deal?? This is the Conference Finals! No big deal? Isn’t this the reason athletes play sports? To win? No big deal?

“I don’t see the situation as being that bad,” he said. “It’s 2-2, these are the Eastern Conference finals. We have three games left — two of them at our place.”

But Chauncey, this season you guys won more games on the road than you did at home. Can you really count on home court advantage carrying you through? And though the Cavs don’t have the strong team that the Pistons do, they’ve outplayed y’all the last two (arguably the last four) games.

After the criticism he took in games one and two, Lebron James has stepped up, and is now embracing the “new Michael Jordan” hype that ushered him into the league. How are you going to stop him?

“You just contest and hope that it doesn’t go in,” Billups said. “There’s nothing you can really do about that, when he’s hitting shots like that. You just have to box out and hope it comes off the rim.”

Hope?? What kind of defensive scheme is "hope"? That’s not the way this team has spoken in the past. Are you guys just resting on your laurels, and assuming that you’ll win just because you’re the Pistons?

“We raised the bar so high, especially in late-game-type situations, when we do make the wrong play it sticks out,” Billups said. “That’s good, though. It let us know what’s expected of us. It’s not a bad thing, that everybody is saying, `What’s going on? Why did we turn it over? Why did we miss this shot?

“It’s a tribute to what we’ve been doing down the stretch for years.”

I think you’re missing the point, Chauncey. This isn’t a tribute to what you have done. This is a criticism of what you’re doing now. You guys come across as arrogant and overconfident.

“Our confidence is really never shook,” Billups said calmly, waving off great concern, “no matter how we win or lose.”

Well, the rest of us are starting to get worried. Just bring the Pistons championship energy that you need to win and get this thing over with. Losing is not an option, and apathy is not a winning strategy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bush Finally Admits He Wants Permanent Bases in Iraq

The Bush White House is finally admitting what we know they have always wanted - permanent bases in Iraq.

From Reuters:
President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in Iraq like the one in South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role, the White House said on Wednesday.

The United States has had thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea to guard against a North Korean invasion for 50 years.

Most astute observers have known from even before the invasion of Iraq that there was every intention of putting permanent bases there. The nation's strategic location is too valuable to lose especially with the loss of bases in Saudi Arabia.

Bush has constantly stated that troops would leave Iraq "when the job is done". Now we understand. The job won't ever be done.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cindy Sheehan Calls it Quits

Originally posted by Nadir on

Cindy Sheehan has had it. The mother who began her crusade to end the Iraq War by camping outside George Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch after her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, issued her resignation as “the face” of the anti-war movement in a post on the DailyKos website this Memorial Day.

The activist has endured a storm of criticism throughout her two-year campaign, and that storm grew stronger last week when she renounced ties with the Democratic Party over their refusal to cut off funding for the imperial occupation in Iraq.

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt “two” party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?

The punk Democrats were put into office with a mandate from the American people to stop the carnage in Iraq, and to hold the Bush administration accountable for its many crimes. But the hypocrites who took over Congress in November are rolling over for George Bush and the corporate war machine just like the Republicans did. Many of the Democratic Party’s so-called leaders - including presidential candidates senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and House Judiciary chair John Conyers of Detroit - have chosen political posturing over what is best for the United States, the people of Iraq and the world.

In fact, the Democrats have taken on the Iraq war as their own. The military funding bill that passed requires the Iraqi parliament to pass an oil law that grants ownership of two-thirds of the nation’s oil to foreign corporatations confirming the “Blood for Oil” motives of the invasion. (Click HERE to watch an animated video that explains the oil law or Click HERE to read the language of the law for yourself.) Cindy Sheehan sacrificed her marriage, her family, her savings and her life attempting to stop the needless bloodshed that has now been coopted by the Democratic Party.

She offers stern criticism for the peace movement “that often puts personal egos above peace and human life… It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions.”

But Sheehan is most critical of herself for believing in the United States and its system for so many years, and she has lost so much to it.

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried every since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.

This All-American mom is packing up and heading home, broken, beatened and bruised from her battles. Her parting words are those of a parent who has done her best to prepare her offspring for the cold, cruel world outside only to find that the hard-headed brat either hasn’t been paying attention or doesn’t care. In the end, all a mother can do is let the prodigal child deal on its own.

Good-bye America …you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.

It’s up to you now.

The Daily Kos: “Good Riddance Attention Whore” by Cindy Sheehan

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bush Grants Himself Dictatorial Powers

On May 9, President George W. Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51" and Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20. This document entrusts the president with leading the entire government, not just the Executive Branch in the event of "a catastrophic emergency."

The document describes a catastrophic emergency as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.” As Matthew Rothschild of "The Progressive" points out, "This could mean another 9/11, or another Katrina, or a major earthquake in California, I imagine, since it says it would include 'localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies.'"

Many observers have been expecting a second 9/11 or a new Gulf of Tonkin incident as a pretext for war against Iran. With announcements that a new surge will result in the doubling of troop strength in Iraq, ships filled with 17,000 sailors and marines entering the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran and war games that culminate in an amphibious landing in Kuwait, the Bush administration is making its move to escalate this war without end.

Bush stared the punk Democrats in Congress down, and they sold the American people out again by agreeing to continue funding his wars. With all of administration's abuses of power, the Dems should have impeached Bush and Cheney long ago. The fact that they still cower in his face is telling.

This new directive along with the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and The Insurrection Act of 2006 set the stage for a dictatorial takeover if any emergency arises, from a "terror attack" to a sunk aircraft carrier to a hurricane.

But don't take my word for it. Read the information for yourself.

Bush Anoints Himself as the Insurer of Constitutional Government in Emergency

New presidential directive gives Bush dictatorial power

Race, Tribalism and Basketball


In an article for the online magazine, Slate, former NBA player, Paul Shirley, currently in the Spanish pro league, recounts the lonliness of the white American basketball player.

Though he makes a great living playing ball in “the second-best basketball league in the world”, Shirley complains about the racism that he has encountered in the NBA. He believed other players didn’t respect his game specifically because he was white.

Of course, Shirley is not best known for his basketball skills. According to his listing in Wikipedia, Shirley’s biggest claim to fame was the online diary he kept as the Phoenix Suns’ twelfth man on their 2004-2005 playoff run, and the blog he writes for He was cut at the end of that season, and failed to make the Minnesota Timberwolves roster at the beginning of this season. Ironically, Shirley mentioned the $10 million, 5-year contract of white Timberwolf Mark Madsen as the reason he was released.

Paul Shirley offers an interesting perspective on what life is like as a racial minority. White Americans currently make up only 6 percent of NBA players (75 percent are African-Americans and 19 percent are foreigners). Though the winners of the last three MVP titles are of European descent, they aren’t white Americans (two-time winner Steve Nash is Canadian and this year’s MVP, Dirk Nowitski, is German). According to Shirley, this is a problem for white American men who aren’t believed to be as talented as Black and foreign players.

…when the average white American male tunes into TNT sometime between October and June, he would very much like to see another average white American male on the basketball court. Most of the time, he doesn’t. But in the few situations that he does, he is going to root for that player. That’s the way it is. We like to see people who look like us succeed.

Hall of Famer Larry Bird raised some controversy a few years ago when he made similar statements. Bird believed that more white superstars would improve the game’s outreach because the largest audience for the sport is white American men. But Bird expressed the same prejudices that Shirley complains about, calling it a sign of “disrespect” to be guarded by a white player.

The one thing that always bothered me when I played in the NBA was I really got irritated when they put a white guy on me,” Bird said. “I still don’t understand why. A white guy would come out (and) I would always ask him: ‘What, do you have a problem with your coach? Did your coach do this to you?’ And he’d go, ‘No,’ and I’d say, ‘Come on, you got a white guy coming out here to guard me; you got no chance.’ … For some reason, that always bothered me when I was playing against a white guy. As far as playing, I didn’t care who guarded me — red, yellow, black,” Bird added. “I just didn’t want a white guy guarding me. Because it’s disrespect to my game.

Players like Bird, Nash and Nowitski are well respected because of their games. And how many times have we heard TNT commentator, Charles Barkley, diss Black players like Eric Snow or Damon Jones because of their lack of game.

But we shouldn’t pretend that race doesn’t matter in basketball. Who can forget Bill Walton’s gushing remarks after Nash’s first MVP victory. The former center beamed with thinly-veiled racial pride as he expressed his delight that intellect and savvy were still valued in a game that is “dominated by the most physically gifted people on the planet,” as if many of those “physically gifted players” don’t have intellect and savvy.

A recent study by University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell University grad student suggested that white referees - especially when they are on all-white officiating teams - called fouls at a greater rate against Black players than against white players, but the NBA and most players reject that contention. “If that’s going on, then it’s something that needs to be dealt with,” former Detroit Piston and current Timberwolf Michael James said. “But I’ve never seen it.” Certainly this is a dubious claim because the league is so dominated by Black players, it would be very difficult to find meaningful numbers to substantiate this.

The rise of foreign ballers has increased the number of players in the league with white skin at least. Nash, Nowitski and Lithuanian Zydrunas Ilgauskas are among the games all-stars. Argentines Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino beat the US team during the last Olympics and have flouished in the NBA. But these players are considered Latino, and don’t qualify as white, at least not in Shirley’s book.

When it comes down to it, most of the tribalism that occurs among sports fans has more to do with team loyalties than race. “I root for the players who play for the Detroit Pistons, and for those who went to the University of Michigan,” said University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos, in response to Shirley’s Slate article. “These are tribal allegiances from my youth. But I don’t root for players who look like me, if for no other reason that there are no NBA players who look like me, at least on any scale of likeness I find meaningful.”

And looking at the bright side, if Paul Shirley spends as much time working on his game during the off season as he does writing blogs and complaining about racism, he just might find himself back on an NBA roster. Like many careers that mechanical engineering major Shirley could have chosen, he may be judged by his skin color in the NBA. Unlike many of his options, his success in that field is determined by his personal results: his points, his rebounds, his defense. The basketball court is a level playing field where you can dispel any disrespect that you perceive by putting the ball through the net.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Relax! Work Less and Save the World!

Originally posted by Nadir at

This is a cause we can ALL get behind!


“We now seem more determined than ever to work harder and produce more stuff, which creates a bizarre paradox: We are proudly breaking our backs to decrease the carrying capacity of the planet,” says Conrad Schmidt, an internationally known social activist and founder of the Work Less Party, a Vancouver-based initiative aimed at moving to a 32-hour work week — a radical departure from the in early, out late cycle we’ve grown accustomed to. “Choosing to work less is the biggest environmental issue no one’s talking about.”

Americans work more hours than anyone else in the industrialized world. According to the United Nations’ International Labor Organization, we work 250 hours, or five weeks, more than the Brits, and a whopping 500 hours, or 12 and a half weeks, more than the Germans. So how does ecological damage figure in to the 40-plus workweek?

Do the math: Longer hours plus labor-saving technology equals ever-increasing productivity. Without high annual growth to match productivity, there’s unemployment. Maintaining growth means using more energy and resources, both in manpower and raw materials, which results in increased waste and pollution.

So chill out. Stop working so hard. Live a little. Life is too short. Your grandchildren will thank you, and you’ll thank yourself. Why Working Less is Better for the Globe

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Free Mumia NOW!

From Philladelphia Independent Media Center

On Thursday, May 17th, oral arguments will be heard in federal court on what could be the last appeal of death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, known internationally as the "Voice of the Voiceless." Many events are planned in Philadelphia and around the world in solidarity. On Wednesday, May 16, Educators for Mumia [held] a teach-in on the case. (Read Mark Lewis Taylor's essay about organizing this event). Later that evening, Immortal Technique is hosting a fundraising concert at the Rotunda. On Thursday, the day of the oral arguments, a solidarity protest will gather at 6th and Market at 8:30am. Several contingents are organizing, including Rainbow Flags for Mumia. And on Friday, German author Michael Schiffmann will speak at the A-Space about Mumia's case.

UPDATE: Read case background, and view crime scene photos never published before in the United States from Also: read veteran Philadelphia journalist Linn Washington, Jr's commentary on the May 17 hearing -- LW has been covering the Abu-Jamal case since the morning of Dec.8, 1981. Amy Goodman interviews LW | Hans Bennett interviews LW

More Info: PSAs from Prison Radio | Indybay Roundup of SF Actions | Portland IMC Roundup | Apr24: Mumia's Birthday Celebration | See more past coverage and background links below...

World-renowned black death-row prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing white Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in a 1982 trial that Amnesty International has deemed unfair (see report). Supported internationally by a variety of activists, workers, and educators, his books and radio essays challenging injustice everywhere have earned the former Black Panther the nickname "The Voice of the Voiceless."

His court case has now hit the fast track with oral arguments beginning [today]. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals is considering four issues in regards to granting Abu-Jamal a new trial. Supported by the NAACP, NLG, UK Lawyers, and The German Parliament, Philly Journalists Linn Washington and Dave Lindorff have optimistically written of Abu-Jamal's chances for a new trial.

In April, longtime French support (2005 photos) continued when the Paris suburb of St. Denis named a major street after Mumia (see video) and was quickly condemned with government resolutions in the US (pdf booklet), while local media continued a long history of bias.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Tasty Opportunity

Originally posted by Nadir at


As Detroit’s entrepreneurs search for new business opportunities, we should not overlook an important growth industry that could improve both the economic and physical well-being of the city.

Urban farming and community gardening have been touted for several years as a possible source of fresh produce and jobs for The D. Pioneers like Grace and Jimmy Boggs have shown us the way, and a few of us have followed.

The information in this recent article on demonstrates that Michigan entrepreneurs should pick up the pace, not only when it comes to organic farming, but also in distribution and retail.

According to Barbara Haumann, press secretary for the Organic Trade Association, Hispanics and Asian-Americans are buying more organics than the typical white population. Meanwhile, the report, “Organic 2006: Consumer Attitudes & Behavior, Five Years Later & Into the Future” by the Hartman Group, reveals that African-Americans are 24 percent more likely to be core organic consumers than members of the general population. The Hartman Group also has found that many pregnant women are lured to the organic market as they begin to become more concerned with what they’re eating.

For business owners, this means even more markets to tap into.

Large organic grocers like Whole Foods are missing opportunities because they refuse to set up stores in neighborhoods where the median income is less than $60,000 a year. Traditional grocers like Kroger have gotten in on the act in a small way because they can’t ignore the growing demand for healthier food and other products.

In Detroit’s inner city the choices are limited to small retailers like Goodwell’s Market, an excellent, but small grocer on Willis and Cass. Meanwhile other supermarkets in the city often provide poor quality products that aren’t fit for human consumption.

Detroit needs a supermarket with mostly organic offerings Whole Foods style, but without the Whole Foods brand. Their business model proves that they only want to feed those people who are rich enough to pay their inflated prices.

Who will be the first group of investors to step up to the plate and provide reasonably priced, fresh, organic, locally grown produce, good quality meats and needed jobs to the hungry residents of Detroit? This is an idea that could help feed the city in more ways than one.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Democrats Are Warmongers Too

Well, the punk Democrats voted in favor of war again.

David Swanson of blogged live from Capitol Hill as the House of Representatives voted to pass a supplemental bill that would again fund the Iraqi occupation. His blow by blow is an interesting analysis in how this Congrsssional vote went.

But the point is, the House voted to continue funding the war by passing the funding bill. Bush gets his wish.

We can't keep calling this Bush's war when the Democrats continuously vote to keep it going. They approved this war in the beginning, and except for the half-assed effort to seek a concession from the White House a couple of weeks ago, they have voted in favor of war again. The Democrats, though they were put in power to stop the war, have voted to continue it.

Who are the warmongers? All but 12 representatives. In fact, two Republicans voted against the war.

Here is David Swanson's report:

More War, With a Peace Label


8:12 p.m. There are now 12 heroes in the House, up from 10 at the last Supplemental vote. At this rate we'll end the war this century for sure. The heroes are the two Republicans who voted No who we know oppose funding the war: Ron Paul and John Duncan, plus the eight Democrats who voted No last time and this time again: Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey, Diane Watson, John Lewis, Mike McNulty, and Mike Michaud, plus the two new heroes added to the list: Democratic Representatives Pete Stark and John Tanner.

They deserve our thanks and our praise. But they did not press their colleagues to join them. Stark voted present last time and No this time, almost certainly not because he learned the war was illegal and disastrous, but because Pelosi found an extra couple of Republicans to vote for the war this time, so Stark and Tanner didn't have to. In this day and age, voting No only when there are enough people to vote Yes for war is our highest measure of heroism. When will that change? When will we demand more of Congress Members? When will activist organizations stop playing along with Congressional frauds (like the one of the past 12 hours in which everyone promoted Yes votes on McGovern's bill but kept quiet about the Supplemental, or mentioned it in a one-line whisper at the end of a long Email)? We just saw 171 Members of Congress vote to end the war, and all but 12 of them turn around and vote to continue the war. Guess which vote they'll be talking about when they come home for Memorial Day. Tell them which vote you're going to remember.

7:59 p.m. The bill to dump more money into this war without even a nonbinding date to end it passed 221-205, with 2 Republicans shamefully joining 219 disgraceful Democrats in voting Yes, 10 Democrats heroically voting No because they oppose funding the war, and 195 Republicans voting No - most of them because they love war even more than the Democrats and wanted an even worse bill. Last time around on the supplemental, when it had a nonbinding end date in it, 8 Democrats voted No and 2 Republicans voted No for the right reasons. They were heroes: - This time around, we probably can identify Republicans who voted No for the right reasons, and we probably have 12 heroes. Who's newly on the list? And who, if anyone, drops off it?

7:52 p.m. Motion to send to committee failed by 229-195, with 3 Dems voting Yes and 3 Repubs voting No. Now there is a 5-min vote on the Supplemental War Money Bill. Not one member spoke on the floor against funding this war. Not one member spoke on the floor about the privatization of the oil. Not one member mentioned the permanent bases. Not one member mentioned Iran. Not one member challenged the idea that the money is "for the troops." I continue to maintain that the war will not end until that particular piece of nonsense is challenged forcefully by someone in Congress.

7:48 p.m. time's up but they're still counting votes.

7:30 p.m. A 15-minute vote is underway to send the bill back to committee.

7:26 p.m. Rep Jerry Lewis moves to recommit the Supplemental war money bill to committee (that is, kill it for the moment).

7:22 p.m. Rep. Jack Murtha is going on and on about everything in the bill for veterans' health care, etc. (But why not fund those things without funding more war?)

7:17 p.m. Rep. Lynn Woolsey puts out a press release like Lee's, while Murtha is still speaking.

7:16 p.m. Rep Barbara Lee did not take the floor. No, she sent me a press release bragging about the McGovern vote. Meanwhile not one progressive has taken the floor to speak against the Supplemental vote. We're all glad 171 members voted for McGovern's bill, but who will vote against the war money?

7:15 p.m. Rep. Jack Murtha claims this bill is about "changing direction" and about "accountability" and "redeployment." How so?

7:13 p.m. Rep. Dan Burton, another Republican, claims this is a World War like World War II and is against Al Qaeda, which is trying to attack the United States of America. He seems mentally unstable. He says the enemy in Iraq is the same people who blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "Are you going to wait until they blow up Indianapolis?"

7:11 p.m. Rep. Jeff Flake is complaining about pork in the bill.

7:10 p.m. DILO says he only wants one more Democratic speaker, so the Republicans, with two remaining should go next. This even though not a single Democrat opposed to the bill has been permitted to speak.

7:07 p.m. Rep John Kline says Bush will veto.

6:59 p.m. Speaker Pelosi is now thanking her colleagues for pushing the Supplemental war funding bill. Then she claims the bill is about ending the war. I kid you not. A bill that has stripped out even a nonbinding request to partially end the war some day is a bill to end the war. Orwell would be awed. Pelosi does call it "the president's war without end," which is right. But when - for the love of peace - will she ever end the damn thing? Can Pelosi not grasp that she can end the war by accepting Bush's veto and not proposing a new bill at all? What duty does she have to defy the American people and fund more war?

6:57 p.m. Rep. Jack Kingston says the bill is cruel to the troops because it threatens to not keep funding them forever if certain things aren't accomplished.

6:53 p.m. Rep. Rahm Emanuel is up. This should be ugly. Yep. He claims this bill opposes a military solution and supports a political solution. Huh? By funding war? He blames the Iraqis. Then he goes back to claiming this is about funding "the troops" - even though it's about a "political solution."

6:51 p.m. Rep. Mike Pence calls the bill micromanaging of the war.

6:43 p.m. Rep Steny Hoyer claims the last bill passed and vetoed, and this one, both "fully fund the troops." STILL NOT ONE VOICE AGAINST THIS BILL FOR THE RIGHT REASONS HAS BEEN PERMITTED TO TAKE THE FLOOR. Hoyer brags that this bill goes after the victims of Bush's war, the Iraqis, by "holding them accountable." NOT ONE WORD YET FROM EITHER SIDE ON THE OIL LAW THAT IS CENTRAL TO THIS BILL. Wow, just as I was writing that, Hoyer mentioned "fair distribution" of the oil, which is how they describe the law that would give the bulk of Iraq's oil to foreign corporations. VOTE NO, YOU SPINELESS MURDERING FASCISTS!

6:41 p.m. Rep. Todd Tiahrt claims Bush will veto the bill for several stupid reasons. He claims it's "for the troops" who are waiting not only for "the equipment they need" but also for "the troops they need."

6:40 p.m. Rep. Rush Holt claims the bill is a bill to oppose Bush's war.

6:34 p.m. Minority Leader John Boner [sic] says the Democrats have refused to work with the Republicans. (Well, then what the hell do you call this bill?) Boner actually claimed that every member of congress but one voted to send "our troops" to Iraq. (Is he thinking of Rep. Barbara Lee's courageous solo vote against the criminal attack on AFGHANISTAN?)

6:32 p.m. Rep. Joe Sestak, who was elected to end the war, says the bill is no good but is a "step" toward a decent bill, so he will vote for it.

6:31 p.m. Rep. Peter Kind says this is a bill for the enemies, terrorists, etc. Says the Congress should obey the Generals and, yes, "our troops."

6:29 p.m. DILO is replying in defense of pork and other items that he's piled into this bill.

6:26 p.m. Rep. Paul Ryan is feining distress on behalf of "our troops" who are clearly upset not by being left in Iraq but by the war funding being handled every two months instead of every four months. Can anyone find a troop who gives a shit?

6:25 p.m. Rep. Ike Skelton is experiencing verbal diarrhea explaining that the bill is about "readiness" for "the troops." THUS FAR NO MEMBER OPPOSING THE BILL FOR THE RIGHT REASONS HAS BEEN GIVEN ACCESS TO THE FLOOR.

6:19 p.m. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is babbling about how she loves militarism and God more than others.

6:16 p.m. DILO and Rep. Israel are defending their "support for our troops." They both make clear that they already believe that the war is hopeless and will believe that again in 2 months. (So why vote for more war tonight?)

6:06 p.m. Republican Jerry Lewis now speaking against the bill, and rightly so, but for absurd and nasty reasons.

5:58 p.m. DILO (David "Idiot Liberals" Obey) proposed the Supplemental for a debate and vote. He claimed much of the money was "for the troops." (How so? It won't bring them home, tell them the truth, or treat them any differently from how they are already being treated.) DILO mentioned the "benchmarks" but not what they are, and certainly not that one of them involves essentially stealing Iraq's oil.

5:56 p.m. Motion to go into secret session has failed 216 to 198. At least three Democrats voted Yes.

5:50 p.m. Motion to go into secret session and hide from the public is losing thus far 204-186.

5:40 p.m. There is now a 15-minute vote underway on whether to go into closed session and keep the nosy public out of the room. Then there will be a debate and vote on the Supplemental. Let's hope Members got the message that they NEED TO VOTE NO. 169 Democratic No votes, combined with the Republicans, would more than kill this bill.

5:38 p.m. McGovern's bill is defeated by a vote of 255 to 171. 196 Republicans voted No and 2 voted YES. 169 Democrats voted YES, BUT 59 SELL OUT SPINELESS WARMONGERING WORTHLESS DEMOCRATS voted NO. 171 is not bad - imagine if Pelosi had focused her efforts on pressuring, bribing, threatening members to back it, the way she's done with the Supplementals? And many of those who voted Yes may turn right around in the next hour and vote Yes for war money. Let's hope no one on the side of the angels is celebrating 171 decent votes for peace that accomplished nothing. Here is the roll call of who voted which way. 7 members did not vote at all, including these four Democrats: Brady (PA); Brown, Corrine; Engel; Fattah. THESE ARE THE DEMOCRATS WHO VOTED WITH THE REPUBLICANS AGAINST PEACE: Altmire, Barrow, Bean, Berkley, Berman, Bishop (GA), Boren, Boswell, Boucher, Boyd (FL), Boyda (KS), Cardoza, Carney, Chandler, Cooper, Costa, Cramer, Cuellar, Davis, Lincoln, Donnelly, Edwards, Ellsworth, Etheridge, Giffords, Gordon, Green, Gene, Herseth Sandlin, Hill, Holden, Hoyer, Kind, Lampson, Lipinski, Mahoney (FL), Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, McNerney, Melancon, Mitchell, Moore (KS), Ortiz, Peterson (MN), Pomeroy, Rodriguez, Ross, Ruppersberger, Salazar, Schwartz, Scott (GA), Shuler, Skelton, Snyder, Space, Spratt, Tanner, Taylor, Udall (CO), Wilson (OH).

5:31 p.m. Motion to recommit failed in a tight vote. Voice vote on McGovern passed in the opinion of the chair. A recorded vote was requested and is now underway.

5:30 p.m. we're looking at perhaps 140 to 150 members ready to vote YES on McGovern's bill, but first they have to be allowed to vote on it. Meanwhile there is a vote on the floor on a Republican proposal to send McGovern's bill back to the Armed Services Committee - and the problem is that there are sell-out Democrats voting for this motion to recommit.



Today the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a variation of Rep. Jim McGovern's bill HR 746 to mandate the withdrawal of most American forces from Iraq. Then the House is expected to vote on a Supplemental war spending bill that gives Bush and Cheney money to continue the war and does not include even a nonbinding withdrawal date. Representatives Waters, Lee, and Woolsey have urged their colleagues to vote YES on McGovern's bill, but have failed to urge them to vote NO on the Supplemental. This is not the position of the peace movement outside the beltway, which demands a YES vote on McGovern and a NO vote on the Supplemental. We will support the supplemental only if McGovern's bill is attached to it as an amendment. TELL CONGRESS - Capitol Hill Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

McGovern's Proposal will be like his bill, except that
* the word "withdrawal" is replaced with redeployment throughout the bill;
* it would go into effect "90 days after enactment" instead of the 30 days in the original bill;
* it would withdraw all US troops except for troops engaged in limited operations against al-Qaeda and foreign terrorists, and for training Iraqi troops (this is the sentence from the House-passed supplemental in April); and
* in addition to clarifying that economic and social reconstruction aid for Iraq continues, it adds the word "diplomatic" as well, so that funding for our embassy personnel is not cut off.
Here are Talking Points on HR 2237, McGovern's Bill as Offered for a Vote Today

And while you’re calling, please ask your Congress member to co-sponsor H.Res. 333, Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Cheney. The bill, drafted by Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), bases impeachment on Cheney’s manipulation of intelligence to launch the Iraq invasion and on his threats of aggressive action against Iran. The bill is now co-sponsored by William. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

We need co-sponsors for this bill impeaching Cheney first! Email your Congress member, or call them at 202-224-3121.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

This is Your Nation on Drugs

The US Senate just scored a major victory for America’s drug dealers.

I’m not talking about the “dope boys” pushing nickels and dimes on the corner. I’m talking about the nation’s REAL drug dealers. The big ballers - the major pharmaceutical companies who raked in over $600 billion in global prescription drug spending in 2006.

On May 9, the Senate passed a bill that, according to The New York Times,

…gives the Food and Drug Administration sweeping new power to police drug safety, order changes in drug labels, regulate advertising and restrict the use and distribution of medicines found to pose serious risks to consumers.

While the measure takes small steps in an effort to ease consumer fears about the FDA’s questionable drug approval methods, the bill renewed the government’s deal with the devil that allows drug companies to pay fees that speed up new drug testing, review and approval. The Times quotes Public Citizen’s Health Research Group director Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe as saying, “The bill’s improvements in F.D.A. authority are important but inadequate. The bill would increase collaboration between the agency and the drug industry, by increasing the agency’s reliance on user fees to finance drug reviews.”

The bill also fails to legalize the importation of lower cost drugs from Canada or to cap the rising cost of medicine. In a society that dopes up on legal and illegal substances of many stripes, drug dealers will have a stronger grip on American bodies and wallets thanks to our politicians.

Many Americans don’t realize drug companies can pay to have their products approved more quickly. Since FDA scientists realize that big pharmaceutical companies pay the bills, approval is easier to come by these days. This is why we see medications coming on the market before they have been adequately tested.

But instead of forcing the FDA to pull a drug from the market when it is found to be harmful to patients as is current law, the Senate’s new bill allows the FDA to “require a manufacturer to adopt a ‘risk evaluation and mitigation strategy’ for a drug that posed serious risks.” That simply means that dangerous drugs could remain on the market longer than in the past, even if they are deemed to be a threat to consumers.

In a related story, the Times reports
that two of the world’s biggest drug dealers, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson, pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year to doctors to prescribe anemia drugs that studies now show may be harmful to patients. These payments are legal, but certainly they should be considered a conflict of interest. With physicians receiving payments to push specific meds, and the FDA being paid to approve new drugs, is there any wonder that the threat to patients has increased.

This bill would also provide financial incentives for drug companies to test their products on children. Two-thirds of the medications currently prescribed to children have never been studied for pediatric use. Now the filthy rich pharmaceutical industry will be offered “financial incentives” simply to study the effects of its drugs on our children - something they should have been doing all along.

Americans won’t see an end to the skyrocketing price of prescriptions anytime soon. The high cost of medication is one of the main reasons the richest nation in the world ranks 29th in life expectancy among all countries. America’s lack of a universal healthcare program with comprehensive drug coverage benefits no one but the for-profit healthcare industry and the public officials who do their bidding.

Big drug dealers and insurance companies hold the nation’s health and economy hostage, and it seems our doctors and politicians are complicit in the crime.

The New York Times

Monday, May 07, 2007

FLASHBACK! The Black JFK: Republican Support for Obama Raises Red Flags

This blog from May 2007 reposted in light of increasing reports of Republican support for Obama - Nadir

The Barack Obama bandwagon is picking up steam. In many circles, the junior senator from Illinois is being compared to John Kennedy. He is young, good looking, charismatic and yes, articulate, providing a resounding echo of the JFK experience.

However, when NeoConservatives start issuing accolades for a Democratic candidate, it's time to take a closer look.

From London, England's TimesOnline:

But last week a surprising new name joined the chorus of praise for the antiwar Obama – that of Robert Kagan, a leading neoconservative and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s, which called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Kagan is an informal foreign policy adviser to the Republican senator John McCain, who remains the favoured neoconservative choice for the White House because of his backing for the troops in Iraq.

But in an article in the Washington Post, Kagan wrote approvingly that a keynote speech by Obama at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs was “pure John Kennedy”, a neocon hero of the cold war.

So warmongering neocons dig Obama? The presidential candidate has expressed his opposition to the Iraq War, and says he was against it from the beginning, but his own words show that he is not an advocate of peace.

Let's get the straight dope from Barack's campaign website.

On the Occupation of Iraq:
Senator Obama introduced legislation in January 2007 to offer a responsible alternative to President Bush's failed escalation policy. The legislation commences redeployment of U.S. forces no later than May 1, 2007 with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008 -- a date consistent with the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's expectations. The plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces. If the Iraqis are successful in meeting the 13 benchmarks for progress laid out by the Bush Administration, this plan also allows for the temporary suspension of the redeployment, provided Congress agrees that the benchmarks have been met.
My reading of this is that Obama would allow the US occupation to continue perhaps with a smaller force, or with current troop levels if Iraq meets Bush's benchmarks. This doesn't sound like an end to the occupation to me.

And that speech that Kagan found to be pure JFK? More from TimesOnline:
In his speech, Obama called for an increase in defence spending and an extra 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines to “stay on the offense” against terrorism and ensure America had “the strongest, best-equipped military in the world”. He talked about building democracies, stopping weapons of mass destruction and the right to take unilateral action to protect US “vital interests” if necessary, as well as the importance of building alliances.
An INCREASE in defense spending? The US already spends more on the military than the rest of the world combined. The US already has the strongest, best-equipped fighting force in the world. "Building democracies?" Isn't that what the Iraqi invasion was supposed to be about?

Obama has also told the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC that Iran "is a threat to us all." His website says that, if elected, Obama "will bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq and refocus on the critical challenges in the broader region." Does that mean he plans to redeploy US military forces from Iraq to Iran?

This sounds like Obama is pushing for a continuation of American imperialism.

Those comparisons to JFK ring true. Let's not forget that JFK escalated US miliatary involvement in Vietnam, ordered the Bay of Pigs invasion and brought the world to the brink of destruction during the Cuban Missle Crisis. JFK was a hawk who increased military spending and upped the ante in the cold war. Obama's military policies show that he is cut of the same cloth.

Republicans who are defecting to the Obama camp believe that Barack offers a message that can unite the nation. That unification could be achieved by converting the so-called "War on Terror" from a GOP-led issue to a bipartisan issue. This means more American aggression and more war.

Perhaps most terrifying of all, is this final quote from the Timesonline article: "For his optimism about the future, Obama has been dubbed the 'black Ronald Reagan'."

Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Democrats are STILL Punks!

The Democrats are PUNKS! I keep saying it over and over, but they still won't man up.

They were elected in 2006 with a mandate from the American people: Stop the Iraqi occupation and bring our soldiers home. With Bush's veto of the Iraq spending bill, their failure to override that veto, and then their immediate concession to Dubya's demands that withdrawl timetables be removed from the bill, they have punked out once again.

That cowboy is riding this Democratic Congress as if it was jackass that is its symbol. I keep waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop up on C-SPAN in the middle of a Senate debate.

I completely agree with Michael Rivero at
And I told you that this was EXACTLY what was going to happen. The Democrats would make a big noise about withdrawel, Bush would veto, and the Democrats would cave so that Bush has his endless war and the Democrats are able to go into the 2008 elections saying, "Well, we tried to stop the war."

Well, trying is not good enough. We The People worked hard to put the Democrats into Congress in 2006 and the Democrats have officially blown their chance. They do not get another one as far as I am concerned.

I don;t care what Congress wants to do or tries to do, only what they actually do matters and in terms of the mandate they were sent to power with in 2006, they have failed utterly and completely. They will not stop the war. They have ignored Kucinich's bill of impeachment against Dick Cheney.

Anyone have a good blueprint for a decent guillotine?

Trying to stop the war simply isn't good enough. Yoda told us, "There is no try. Only do or do not."

The Congress is supposed to have equal power with the president. Why are they allowing the carnage and the Bush administration's crimes to continue?

Because they are PUNKS!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mission Accomplished For Real

Originally posted by Nadir on



It’s May 1, the fourth anniversary of President George W. Bush’s triumphant “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, where he announced that major combat operations in Iraq were over. The US military had successfully overthrown a sovereign government and taken the Iraqi nation hostage. Champange for everyone!

Because of the deteriorating security situation there, the widespread corruption, billions of dollars in cash missing and the fact that many of the projects Bush bragged about are now falling apart, the public believes things are going poorly in Iraq. Despite the grumbling and moaning that we hear, keen observers will clearly perceive, through the 20/20 vision that four years of hindsight allow, that the invasion and occupation of Iraq have been highly profitable ventures for Bush, Cheney, their families and the neoconservatives who led us to war.

The mission has been accomplished indeed.

The McClatchy Newspapers report that the price tag for the Iraq invasion and occupation will soon exceed $500 billion.

That’s about ten times more than the Bush administration anticipated before the war started four years ago, and no one can predict how high the tab will go. The $124 billion spending bill that President Bush plans to veto this week includes about $78 billion for Iraq, with the rest earmarked for the war in Afghanistan, veterans’ health care and other government programs.

Congressional Democrats and Bush agree that they cannot let their dispute over a withdrawal timetable block the latest cash installment for Iraq. Once that political fight is resolved, Congress can focus on the president’s request for $116 billion more for the war in the fiscal year that starts on Sept. 1.

The combined spending requests would push the total for Iraq to $564 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

No matter what your position is on the occupation, you’ve got to admit that’s one helluva score. You have to admire the neocon gangsta.

Consider that according to CBS News, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, earned about $2.3 billion profit on revenues of $22.6 billion for 2006 alone. CorpWatch says that by March 30, 2004 - just one year after the invasion began - Halliburton had already pocketed $6 billion in Iraq contracts even though corruption and mismanagement were evident.


Halliburton scored almost $1.2 billion in revenue from contracts related to Iraq in the third quarter of 2006, leading one analyst to comment: “Iraq was better than expected … Overall, there is nothing really to question or be skeptical about. I think the results are very good.”

Very good indeed. An estimated 655,000 dead Iraqis, over 3,000 dead coalition troops, billions stolen from Iraq’s coffers, a country battered by civil war - but Halliburton turned a profit, so the results are very good.

But now, in a classic “take the money and run” move, Halliburton is skipping town, moving their corporate HQ to the United Arab Emirates, a nation with which the US has no extradition agreement. This not only will allow them to avoid prosecution for whatever underhanded dealings were going on, but they also won’t have to pay taxes on their ill-gotten gains.

And by spinning off its KBR unit, the wing of the company that held most of those corupt military contracts, they have further removed themselves from the scene of the crime. Straight gangsta!

But your boy, Dick Cheney got rid of all his Halliburton stock, right? He isn’t gaining financially from all this is he? Au contraire, mon cher.

Cheney still holds 433,333 stock options in the corporation. Those options rose 3821% in 2004. The pay out will be deferred until after he leaves office, which means it will have grown a lot more. These are in addition to the $33.7 million retirement package the VP will receive after leaving office. Therefore Cheney DIRECTLY profits from any of his actions during his vice-presidency that positively affect Halliburton’s revenues and stock price.

And what about G-Dub? Well, he happens to be a former employee of a company called The Carlyle Group. William Rivers Pitts of lays it out for us:

The Carlyle Group achieved national attention in the early days of the Iraq occupation, especially after Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11″ exposed the firm’s umbilical ties to the Bush family and the House of Saud. For the uninitiated, Carlyle is a privately-owned equity firm organized and run by former members of the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations.

Currently, Carlyle manages more than $44 billion in 42 different investment funds, which is an interesting fact in and of itself: Carlyle could lay claim to only a meager $12 billion in funds in December of 2001. Thanks to their ownership of United Defense Industries, a major military contractor that sells a whole galaxy of weapons systems to the Pentagon, Carlyle’s profits skyrocketed after the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Some notable present and former employees of Carlyle include former president George H.W. Bush, who resigned in 2003; James Baker III, Bush Sr.’s secretary of state and king fixer; and George W. Bush, who served on Carlyle’s board of directors until his run for the Texas governorship. One notable former client of Carlyle was the Saudi BinLaden Group, which sold its investment back to the firm a month after the September 11 attacks. Until the October 2001 sellout, Osama bin Laden himself had a financial interest in the same firm that employed the two presidents Bush.

Yes, you read that right. Osama bin Laden was a former business partner of the Bush family. Should we be a little suspicious about why Dubya stopped chasing his former running buddy, and decided to go after his father’s former running buddy Saddam? But that’s another topic.

Bush Sr. resigned from Carlyle in October 2003, but remains on retainer because his clout can bring home the bacon. Again from Common Dreams:

In January 2006, Bush Sr. wrote China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry that it would be “beneficial to the comprehensive development of Sino-US relations” if Beijing approved the sale of a Chinese bank to a consortium which included Carlyle. Bluntly put, Bush Sr. asked China to grant Carlyle a lucrative business deal or risk his son’s wrath. Foreign policy at its finest.

But the whole family is in on the act. George’s “Uncle Bucky” - William H. T. Bush - is on the board of military contractor Engineered Supports Systems, Inc. (ESSI) whose stock has climbed 1000 percent since 2000. In 2003, The Financial Times reported that the president’s brother Neil earned $60,000 a year through Crest Investment Company, a private firm that generates contracts in Iraq. (Neil also profits from the No Child Left Behind program. His company Ignite! holds lucrative federal contracts to supply educational material.)

Brother Marvin is on the board of HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc., which insured part of the World Trade Center. That company benefited when Bush pushed through insurance company bailout legislation after 9/11. He is also a founder of Winston Partners, a private investment firm with military and security holdings that profit from the war.

By escalating and prolonging the occupation of Iraq, Bush and Cheney are padding their wallets, and the wallets of their families. In fact, if the war ends, those revenue streams will dry up.

Bush isn't working for American soldiers when he vetoes a spending bill with withdrawl provisions. He is working for himself, his family and his business partners.

“It’s worth it,” Bush said last May, when the tab was around $320 billion. “I wouldn’t have spent it if it wasn’t worth it.”

Exactly. Mission Accomplished.