February 10, 2006

   Bush Gives New Details about Old Report of LA Terror Plot
    By Peter Wallsten and Josh Meyer

---snip---

  Bush did not name the nation or the operative, but his decision to reveal even the most incremental details of the reported plot underscored the effort the White House has undertaken recently to defend its anti-terrorism policies.  

   The details did little to counter skepticism from Democrats and some law enforcement officials who have questioned whether the reported scheme had ever been put into operation before it was thwarted.  more...

**********

The Worst Parts Remain Unchanged

A Raw Deal on the Patriot Act
By Sen. RUSSELL FEINGOLD

I understand that some of my friends and colleagues in the Senate have come to an agreement with the White House on reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

While I respect these Senators greatly, I am gravely disappointed in this so-called deal. The White House agreed to only a few minor changes to the Patriot Act conference report that could not get through the Senate back in December. These changes do not address the major problems with the Patriot Act that a bipartisan coalition has been trying to fix for the past several years. We‚ve come too far and fought too hard to agree to reauthorize the Patriot Act without fixing those problems. A few insignificant changes just doesn‚t cut it. I cannot support this deal, and I will do everything I can to stop it.

I understand the pressure that my colleagues have been under on this issue, and I appreciate all the hard work that they have done on the Patriot Act. It has been very gratifying to work on a bipartisan basis on this issue. It is unfortunate that the White House is so obviously trying to make this into a partisan issue, because it sees some political advantage to doing so. Whether the White House likes it or not, this will continue to be an issue where both Democrats and Republicans have concerns, and we will continue to work together for changes to the law. I am sure of that. more...

February 9, 2006

  Bush's Social Security Sleight of Hand
    By Allan Sloan

    If you read enough numbers, you never know what you'll find. Take President Bush and private Social Security accounts.  

   Last year, even though Bush talked endlessly about the supposed joys of private accounts, he never proposed a specific plan to Congress and never put privatization costs in the budget. But this year, with no fanfare whatsoever, Bush stuck a big Social Security privatization plan in the federal budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on Monday.  

   His plan would let people set up private accounts starting in 2010 and would divert more than $700 billion of Social Security tax revenues to pay for them over the first seven years.   

  If this comes as a surprise to you, have no fear. You're not alone. Bush didn't pitch private Social Security accounts in his State of the Union message last week.   

  First, he drew a mocking standing ovation from Democrats by saying that "Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security," even though, as I said, he'd never submitted specific legislation.   

  Then he seemed to be kicking the Social Security problem a few years down the road in typical Washington fashion when he asked Congress "to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," adding that the commission would be bipartisan "and offer bipartisan solutions."   

  But anyone who thought that Bush would wait for bipartisanship to deal with Social Security was wrong. Instead, he stuck his own privatization proposals into his proposed budget.   more...

February 8, 2006

In Dubious Battle
by Cassidy Hartmann

Once idealistic and undaunted, young veterans of the Iraq war are coming home to broken promises and shattered lives.

---snip---

"I don't need the yellow ribbon on the back of your car. I need money for VA funding," she explains. "We need money for those kids that are coming home and have to revamp their whole house because they've had limbs blown off, or aren't going to be able to do the occupation they once were able to.

"So instead of putting a ribbon on your car, do the next step. Talk to somebody who just came back to your community and they're struggling and they need somebody to reach out to them. Help somebody whose husband or wife is deployed and they need help taking their kids to school or whatever it may be. It's a great sentiment, but it means nothing unless you're doing something behind it." more...

February 7, 2006

As Soon as the Republicans Voted to Prohibit Gonzales from Testifying Under Oath About Illegal Wiretapping, The Democrats on the Judiciary Committee Should Have Walked Out. Period.

A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL

The grand showdown between the Dems upset at Bush's illegal wiretapping fizzled out as soon as Arlen Specter -- the two-faced Bush go-fer of the GOP -- not only ruled that Gonzales didn't have to testify under oath, he pretended -- as scripted -- to prohibit the Attorney General of the United States from doing what most Americans are required to do in a Court of Law or before Congress (unless they are from the White House or CEOs of big oil companies).

It was at that point, once again, that the Democrats became merely bit players in a script once again written by the White House. For many years, and most recently in several editorials, BuzzFlash has lamented that the Dems don't understand that these hearings are soap operas -- and that the Bush/Rovian propaganda staff writes very effective soap opera scripts.

In this case, the goal of the soap opera was to allow Gonzales not to testify under oath, so that he wouldn't be likely to be charged with perjury. After that point, everything else just became a big muddle. And, the White House knows, in a situation like this, they win if the hearing turns out to be inconclusive and stalemated.

We had to laugh through our tears for democracy when Arlen Specter boasted that he was the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and no Attorney General was going to decide for himself to testify under oath, as Gonzales pretended that he wanted to be sworn in (but, of course, knew in advance that it would never happen, so he could lie with impunity). Oh, my Lord, you couldn't get hack Hollywood scriptwriters to do a better job! more...

February 6, 2006

Vonnegut's Blues for America
by Kurt Vonnegut  

No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious and charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC

Now, during our catastrophically idiotic war in Vietnam, the music kept getting better and better and better. We lost that war, by the way. Order couldn‚t be restored in Indochina until the people kicked us out.

That war only made billionaires out of millionaires. Today‚s war is making trillionaires out of billionaires. Now I call that progress. more...

February 5, 2006

Democrats Collaborate with Bush on Surveillance
Scare of the Union
By ALAN MAASS

Just trust us, and we'll keep you safe. That's been the Bush administration's trump card, used over and over since September 11--and it was played again in George Bush's State of the Union address.

The White House has been on the offensive since the New York Times revealed in December that the National Security Agency (NSA)--under Bush's orders--flouted the law by monitoring phone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens without a warrant.

The administration should be reeling from the exposure of this latest deception. "By the way," Bush said, speaking in Pittsburgh in 2004, "any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretaps, it requires--a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed." That was a flat-out lie.

But the administration knows it can score points because there is no opposition within mainstream politics willing to challenge it on the "war on terror."
After complaining about Bush's failure to get rubber-stamp approval for the wiretaps from a secret intelligence court, the Democrats' last presidential candidate, John Kerry, nevertheless assured the New York Times, "We all support surveillance."

Kerry is right about the Democratic Party supporting surveillance--in its current Bush Lite phase, and throughout its history--but public opinion runs the other way. more...

February 4, 2006

Cindy Sheehan and Lesser-Evil Politics:
Campaigning Against the War in California
by Joshua Frank

Cindy Sheehan may be elevating her activism to the next level. The mother of the antiwar movement, while attending the World Social Forum in Venezuela, told reporters that she is considering running against Senator Dianne Feinstein in California's Democratic primary next June.  

Shinning a spotlight on Feinstein's malignant war blemishes would be the focal point of her campaign. Undoubtedly, Sheehan would receive generous support for her quest from California's ever-increasing war resistance. Sean Penn would likely race to her side for photo-ops. The New York Times would write their slimy op-eds. Fox News would deploy their smear brigades -- this could potentially be the biggest thing the antiwar movement has seen since Sheehan propped up her tent outside Dubya's Crawford ranch. In the least it would get the American public talking. more...
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No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
San Francisco, Ca., February 16, 2003

Klezmatics

Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.

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