This thread is a follow-up on a thread I posted last week regarding an upcoming meeting in our U.U. church to discuss the furor than ensued after our minister gave a sermon on buying a gun, learning to use it, and joining the NRA.
Our minister clarified some questions that she had already heard from concerned people: no, she did not bring the gun to church; and no, she did not keep it loaded in her home -- the gun was kept in a safe separate from the ammunition. She said that we've all seen the gridlock in Washington between two disparate groups that can't seem to communicate and that we could hardly expect them to resolve their differences if we couldn't sit down and do the same ourselves. She pointed out that her (previous) personal fear and ignorance of guns was an issue that had made it difficult to communicate with pro-gun folk, and reiterated that target shooting was awesome.
Another gentleman prefaced the discussion with a reminder that we should each have an "assumption of good will." IOW, folks with a different POV DO mean well; it's just that our life experiences have brought us to different sides of an issue.
Some folks who had been upset with our minister had called her already and were at the meeting. Two families had quit the congregation over it and had never called the minister to discuss it -- I had heard they didn't want to discuss it because our minister would "win" any argument they had with her. I think the thought that they believed there had to be a "winner" in any discussion bothered her as much as anything else.
One lady who had professed herself very much anti-gun said that she had talked to the minister; one of the reasons she was upset was because she had thought the meeting would be ways to talk about peacemaking. I thought learning to talk with each other calmly was a pretty good start on that but I didn't say so.
One gentleman pointed out that as a member of the NRA and the ACLU, he had felt the "Annie Oakley" sermon made him feel like he could truly belong to this church (he's another newbie like myself).
He was followed by a gentleman who said that as a conservative he DIDN'T feel like he always fit in because most folks assumed if you were at the UU church you were liberal. (I'm guessing there might be a sermon on that sometime in the future.)
There were several questions on just who and what the NRA was, which one or two "NRA types" (sorry, couldn't resist) explained as best they could.
My point was that I had joined the UU Church because they welcomed people of all faiths and none, people of all races, and people of all sexual identities, and that I found it a bit bemusing that a congregation that didn't blink twice over atheists or wiccans or muslims or gays would freak out when the minister bought a gun.
We pretty much just ran out of time, but it was rather pleasant having a discussion with 20-30 people who treated each other with absolute courtesy and respect.
I am attending a roundtable discussion this week at our church and the topic will be the NRA. This was prompted by our UU minister purchasing a gun, learning to use it, and joining the NRA -- the shooting at the Tennessee UU church last year and a burglary in her home led to her decision. Several members of the congregation have had EXTREME reactions to her joining the NRA: their position is that no one should support them in any way. Her position is that if one disagrees with some of the NRA's positions, the best way to do so is voicing opinions as a member rather than an outsider.
I myself tend to not be too "het up" about her NRA membership -- I lived in rural Missouri for 20 years and everyone I knew hunted. I guess what I'm looking for are some pros and cons to NRA membership that might contribute to the dicussion this week.
Thanks in advance.
A friend just sent me this article, which was posted here back in June but it doesn't seem like too many saw it. The article explores why health care costs are so much higher in some parts of the country than in others. Anyone who's been to the Mayo Clinic will not be surprised -- as the author is -- by their modus operandi, but it turns out the way they run their clinic is not only good for their clients' health, it's also cost-efficient.
I wonder if any of this is being addressed in the HCR bills.
The Cost Conundrum
What a Texas town can teach us about health care.
by Atul Gawande
June 1, 2009
It is spring in McAllen, Texas. The morning sun is warm. The streets are lined with palm trees and pickup trucks. McAllen is in Hidalgo County, which has the lowest household income in the country, but it’s a border town, and a thriving foreign-trade zone has kept the unemployment rate below ten per cent. McAllen calls itself the Square Dance Capital of the World. “Lonesome Dove” was set around here.
McAllen has another distinction, too: it is one of the most expensive health-care markets in the country. Only Miami—which has much higher labor and living costs—spends more per person on health care. In 2006, Medicare spent fifteen thousand dollars per enrollee here, almost twice the national average. The income per capita is twelve thousand dollars. In other words, Medicare spends three thousand dollars more per person here than the average person earns.
The explosive trend in American medical costs seems to have occurred here in an especially intense form. Our country’s health care is by far the most expensive in the world. In Washington, the aim of health-care reform is not just to extend medical coverage to everybody but also to bring costs under control. Spending on doctors, hospitals, drugs, and the like now consumes more than one of every six dollars we earn. The financial burden has damaged the global competitiveness of American businesses and bankrupted millions of families, even those with insurance. It’s also devouring our government. “The greatest threat to America’s fiscal health is not Social Security,” President Barack Obama said in a March speech at the White House. “It’s not the investments that we’ve made to rescue our economy during this crisis. By a wide margin, the biggest threat to our nation’s balance sheet is the skyrocketing cost of health care. It’s not even close.”
The question we’re now frantically grappling with is how this came to be, and what can be done about it. McAllen, Texas, the most expensive town in the most expensive country for health care in the world, seemed a good place to look for some answers.
Something even more worrisome is going on as well. In the war over the culture of medicine—the war over whether our country’s anchor model will be Mayo or McAllen—the Mayo model is losing. In the sharpest economic downturn that our health system has faced in half a century, many people in medicine don’t see why they should do the hard work of organizing themselves in ways that reduce waste and improve quality if it means sacrificing revenue....
Could one of you direct me to sites that not only have the house and senate committee bills on healthcare reform, but synopses of what's in them?
I've found the bill from Senate HELP and I know the finance committee is still dithering, and then there's HR3200 in the house, but aren't there some other committees working on it, too?
Any help would be appreciated -- I'm currently arguing with someone on another site who's spewing all the RW hoohah.
I know after reading his amazed take on what we all did last fall, it behooves us not to rest on our (ahem) laurels, but to get out there to the town hall meetings and let the REAL vox populi be heard on health care reform.
I can tell you exactly, give or take a minute or two, when American democracy came back from the dead because I was there: 7:15 p.m. Central Time, 3 January 2008, Precinct 53, Theodore Roosevelt High....And there was not much about the caucus location that shouted "HISTORY!"...
...Though the caucus nominating system was a modern invention, its roots were old and deep in American soil. Even before the revolution, the historian Sean Wilentz has noted, rowdy societies of artisans and mechanics were defying the choice of people presuming to be their betters by voting for their own nominees to city councils. Those undeferential habits would persist, eventually spawning the democratic societies that made Jeffersonian democracy possible....
...By 6:45, there were no seats left in Precinct 53 and no standing room either and people were still pouring through the doors....Given the elated solemnity of the moment, the chairperson probably could have found better words to kick off the proceedings than "Let's cha-cha-cha." But it didn't matter. At 7:15, the people rose from their seats, moved from where they were standing as best as they could, in the chaotic crush, toward their "preference."... The final tally was done by counting off, military style; each supporter calling out the next number until the group was done. This was an economical way to count the groups, but it also made the notion of a vote -- a shouted voice -- powerfully literal. Thus the vox populi of Des Moines sounded: elderly aunts, high school tenors, gravelly taxi drivers, sonorous lawyers: "TWENTY-THREE," "TWENTY-FOUR"... By the time we got to Obama's 186 (to Edwards' 116 and Clinton's 74), the magnitude of what had just happened was inescapable....
...As the big screen at the media center rolled onward with its counts, it became dramatically apparent that whatever was going on was happening in numbers that had never been seen before. Rural or urban districts, it made no difference; counts, even in a politically active state like Iowa, were now up by two or three times. In other state primaries to come, voting figures would be even more staggering. In Nevada in 2004, some 10,000 had voted in the primaries; in 2008, that figure was nearly 110,000. This was the real surge, the one that mattered, of a popular democracy acting as though it could actually effect an alteration of power. And it had happened in a way that surely Tocqueville would have recognized as authentically American: a breakout from the entrapment of management; from the platitudes about the dominance of money; of television advertising; from the pet theories of the press and radio; from the cool manipulation of the campaign pros. This had happened through the recovery of directness, the transparency of neighborhood meetings, face-to-face; the shows of hands; the unapologetic sounding of voices; precisely the unapologetic demonstration of choice that was unthinkable in societies where democracy was a matter of form rather than substance, and where publicly endorsing your preference was likely to be noticed by those who might pay you back in currency you'd rather not have....
excerpt from The American Future: a History by Simon Schama
Now let's get out there and kick some astroturfer butt.
Posted by DVJNU in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Fri Jan 30th 2009, 11:27 AM
In tribute to ancient Irish law (Sister Fidelma, anyone?), Ogden Nash (the three-l-lama), and the Dalai Lama, who's position I match on the political compass test.
And for anyone who's interested, I started posting under a new username "TheDoorbellRang" in August 2007, but wanted to keep my longevity record so have instead changed from my old, bland "DVJNU" name and will no longer use "TheDoorbellRang." Here is my journal from August 2007 thru 2008.
I know that recycling is being encouraged in many communities these days, with varying degrees of success. We've recently moved from a small community in Missouri to a small city in Kane County, Illinois, and the difference couldn't be more pronounced: tepid participation in Missouri to (as far as I can tell) almost total participation here. Why?
Here's the modus operandi for recycling in both places we've lived.
small town, Missouri:
Started about ten years ago with recycling bins to sort paper, plastic, glass, and cans, with special trucks to pick up. After a while, lack of community involvement changed this to folks sorting their own stuff and carting it off themselves to a central location and dumping it themselves. Human nature being what it is, hardly any recycling happens there.
Kane County, Illinois:
Everyone recycles here. I have yet to pass a home on trash day that doesn't have their recycling bin(s) out. Why? Because here you pay to have non-recyclable trash picked up, and recyclable trash is picked up for "free." Every trash day, one must place a pre-purchased trash tag (costing about $2.60 each) on each garbage can, while non-sorted recyclables are picked up at the same time. Thus, folks have a great inducement to recycle, because the more you recycle, the less other trash you have, the more you save.
Here's what gets picked up:
Recyclable Paper Products
Must be flattened and cut in pieces no larger than 3’x3’. Large amounts should be bundled with string.
Paper Grocery Bags
Recyclable Rigid Products
Aerosol Cans (empty)
Dry Cell Batteries
Glass Bottles and Jars
Used Motor Oil
Recyclable Plastic Products
Peanut butter jars, soft drink bottles
Milk jugs, laundry detergent jugs
Vegetable oil bottles, window cleaners
Dry cleaning bags, bread bags, six pack rings
Yogurt cups, shampoo bottles, margarine tubs
Catsup bottles, microwave serving ware
(plastics with 1 to 7 ratings in that little recycling triangle)
Anyway, I must say I'm very impressed with my new county.
BTW, this is my 1000 post; I wanted it to be something other than my usual "Those bastards!" or "Yeah!"
by Miles Mogulescu in the Huffington post
Raise Your Hands if Presidential Debate Moderators Should Stop Asking Candidates to Answer Policy Questions by Raising Their Hands
It's bad enough that candidates have to sum up their stands on complicated issues in 15, 30 or 60 second sound bites. Now they're being asked to do it by raising their hands in response to over-simplified hypothetical questions, like a bunch of kindergarten students. Moderator Wolf Blitzer used this tactic at least 4 times during Sunday night's Democratic presidential debate, usually to try to make those who didn't immediately raise their hands look weak on national security.
Such tactics demean the moderating journalists, the candidates and the American people. Is this any way to pick the most powerful leader in the world? Could one find a better example of what Al Gore has called The Assault on Reason in the title to his new book?
Why, Leslie should have just sang:
If you're tough and we should know it, raise your hands
If you're tough and we should know it, raise your hands
If you're tough and we should know it, raising hands will surely show it
If you're tough and we should know it, raise your hands
I got this in an e-mail today, and since I didn't have any extra money to donate this time around
I thought I'd give you all a good chuckle:
Before the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush, he was invited to a get-acquainted tour of the White House. After drinking several glasses of iced tea, Dubya asked President Bill Clinton if he could use his personal bathroom. When he entered Clinton's private quarters, he was astonished to see that President Clinton had a solid gold urinal. That afternoon, George told his wife, Laura, about the urinal. "Just think," he said, "When I am President, I could have a gold urinal, too. But I wouldn't do something so self-indulgent!" The next day, when Laura had lunch with Hillary at her tour of the White House, she told Hillary how impressed George had been at his discovery of the fact that, in his private bathroom, the President had a gold urinal.
That evening, as Bill and Hillary were getting ready for bed, Hillary smiled and said to Bill: "I found out who pissed in your saxophone".
The Path to 9/11
ABC's The Path to 9/11 is not a documentary. Rather, it is a work of fiction, loosely based on the events of September
2001. It's important to note that, as fiction, the series includes scenes which either never occurred or which happened in a very different fashion than depicted. Following is some information and a link that will provide the accurate details of a particular event which was misrepresented in the series:
The first night of Path to 9/11 has a dramatic scene where former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger refuses to give the order to the CIA to take out bin Laden — even though CIA agents, along with the Northern Alliance, have his house surrounded.
But former White House official Richard Clarke tells what really happened:
1. Contrary to the movie, no US military or CIA personnel were on the ground in Afghanistan and saw bin Laden.
2. Contrary to the movie, the head of the Northern Alliance, Masood, was nowhere near the alleged bin Ladin camp and did not see UBL.
3. Contrary to the movie, the CIA Director actually said that he could not recommend a strike on the camp because the information was single sourced and we would have no way to know if bin Laden was in the target area by the time a cruise missile hit it.
And, for a fuller perspective of the many relevant events preceding 9/11, the following article is a must-read
(reprinted, here, with the author's permission):
Clinton, 9/11 and the Facts By William Rivers Pitt t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 30 August 2006
The fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks is less than two weeks away, but the avalanche has already begun. Oliver Stone's film "World Trade Center" has been advertised in all corners and is being screened across the nation. CNN has announced that it intends, on the 11th, to rebroadcast all of the coverage of the attacks from 8:30 a.m. until midnight. If you don't have cable, they say, you can watch it for free on the CNN web site.
ABC intends to mark the occasion in far more grand a fashion. Starting September 10th and ending September 11th, the network will show a miniseries titled "The Path to
9/11." According to reports from early screenings, the writer/producer of the miniseries, Cyrus Nowrasteh, has crafted a television polemic intended to blame the entire event on President Clinton.
Nowrasteh, an outspoken conservative of Persian descent whose family fled Iran after the fall of the Shah, spoke last year at the Liberty Film Festival, described by its founders as Hollywood's first conservative film festival. Govindini Murty, actress, writer, and co-director of the Liberty Film Festival, wrote a review of "The Path to 9/11" for the right-wing online news page FrontPageMag.com.
In the review, Murty states, "'The Path to 9/11' is one of the best, most intelligent, most pro-American miniseries I've ever seen on TV, and conservatives should support it and promote it as vigorously as possible. This is the first Hollywood production I've seen that honestly depicts how the Clinton administration repeatedly bungled the capture of Osama bin Laden."
FrontPageMag, it should be noted, held a symposium back in May to argue that the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which were never found despite being the main reason for invasion, were actually spirited out of Iraq by Russia on the eve of the
2003 attack. So it goes.
Leaving aside the wretched truth that the far right is once again using September 11 to score political points, the facts regarding the still-lingering effort to blame the Clinton administration for the attacks must be brought to the fore. Nowrasteh, at several points in his miniseries, rolls out a number of oft-debunked allegations that Clinton allowed Osama bin Laden to remain alive and free before the attacks.
Roger Cressy, National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism in the period 1999-2001, responded to these allegations in an article for the Washington Times in
2003. "Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda," wrote Cressy. "As President Bush well knows, bin Laden was and remains very good at staying hidden. The current administration faces many of the same challenges. Confusing the American people with misinformation and distortions will not generate the support we need to come together as a nation and defeat our terrorist enemies."
Measures taken by the Clinton administration to thwart international terrorism and bin Laden's network were historic, unprecedented and, sadly, not followed up on. Consider the steps offered by Clinton's 1996 omnibus anti-terror legislation, the pricetag for which stood at $1.097 billion. The following is a partial list of the initiatives offered by the Clinton anti-terrorism bill:
Screen Checked Baggage: $91.1 million
Screen Carry-On Baggage: $37.8 million
Passenger Profiling: $10 million
Screener Training: $5.3 million
Screen Passengers (portals) and Document Scanners: $1 million
Deploying Existing Technology to Inspect International Air Cargo: $31.4 million
Provide Additional Air/Counterterrorism Security: $26.6 million
Explosives Detection Training: $1.8 million
Augment FAA Security Research: $20 million
Customs Service: Explosives and Radiation Detection Equipment at Ports: $2.2 million
Anti-Terrorism Assistance to Foreign Governments: $2 million
Capacity to Collect and Assemble Explosives Data: $2.1 million
Improve Domestic Intelligence: $38.9 million
Critical Incident Response Teams for Post-Blast Deployment: $7.2 million
Additional Security for Federal Facilities: $6.7 million
Firefighter/Emergency Services Financial Assistance: $2.7 million
Public Building and Museum Security: $7.3 million
Improve Technology to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling: $8 million
Critical Incident Response Facility: $2 million
Counter-Terrorism Fund: $35 million
Explosives Intelligence and Support Systems: $14.2 million
Office of Emergency Preparedness: $5.8 million The Clinton administration poured more than a billion dollars into counterterrorism activities across the entire spectrum of the intelligence community, into the protection of critical infrastructure, into massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack, into a reorganization of the intelligence community itself. Within the National Security Council, "threat meetings" were held three times a week to assess looming conspiracies. His National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, prepared a voluminous dossier on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, actively tracking them across the planet. Clinton raised the issue of terrorism in virtually every important speech he gave in the last three years of his tenure.
Clinton's dire public warnings about the threat posed by terrorism, and the actions taken to thwart it, went completely unreported by the media, which was far more concerned with stained dresses and baseless Drudge Report rumors. When the administration did act militarily against bin Laden and his terrorist network, the actions were dismissed by partisans within the media and Congress as scandalous "wag the dog" tactics. The news networks actually broadcast clips of the movie "Wag the Dog" while reporting on his warnings, to accentuate the idea that everything the administration said was contrived fakery.
In Congress, Clinton was thwarted by the reactionary conservative majority in virtually every attempt he made to pass legislation that would attack al-Qaeda and terrorism. His
1996 omnibus terror bill, which included many of the anti-terror measures we now take for granted after September
11, was withered almost to the point of uselessness by attacks from the right; Senators Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly dismissive of the threats Clinton spoke of.
Specifically, Clinton wanted to attack the financial underpinnings of the al-Qaeda network by banning American companies and individuals from dealing with foreign banks and financial institutions that al-Qaeda was using for its money-laundering operations. Texas Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Banking Committee, gutted the portions of Clinton's bill dealing with this matter, calling them "totalitarian."
In fact, Gramm was compelled to kill the bill because his most devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its criminal executives in Houston, were using those same terrorist financial networks to launder their own dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders. It should also be noted that Gramm's wife, Wendy, sat on the Enron Board of Directors.
Just before departing office, Clinton managed to make a deal with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to have some twenty nations close tax havens used by al-Qaeda. His term ended before the deal was sealed, and the incoming Bush administration acted immediately to destroy the agreement.
According to Time magazine, in an article entitled "Banking on Secrecy" published in October of 2001, Bush economic advisors Larry Lindsey and R. Glenn Hubbard were urged by think tanks like the Center for Freedom and Prosperity to opt out of the coalition Clinton had formed. The conservative Heritage Foundation lobbied Bush's Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, to do the same.
In the end, the lobbyists got what they wanted, and the Bush administration pulled out of the plan. The Time article stated, "Without the world's financial superpower, the biggest effort in years to rid the world's financial system of dirty money was short-circuited."
ABC's miniseries skates right over this, and likewise refuses to address the myriad ways in which the Bush administration failed completely to defend this nation from attack. All the efforts put forth by the Clinton administration were cast aside when Bush took office, simply because they wanted nothing to do with the outgoing government. Condoleezza Rice, by her own admission, did not even bother to look at the massive compendium of al-Qaeda data compiled by Sandy Berger until the morning of September 11.
After the attacks, virtually every member of the Bush administration put forth the talking point that, "No one could have anticipated anyone using airplanes as bombs." The facts tell a different story.
In 1993, a $150,000 study was undertaken by the Pentagon to investigate the possibility of airplanes being used as bombs. A draft document of this was circulated throughout the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In 1994, a disgruntled Federal Express employee invaded the cockpit of a DC10 with the intention of crashing it into a company building. Again in 1994, a pilot crashed a small airplane into a tree on the White House grounds, narrowly missing the building itself. Also in 1994, an Air France flight was hijacked by members of a terrorist organization called the Armed Islamic Group, who intended to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower.
The 1993 Pentagon report was followed up in September
1999 by a report titled "The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism." This report was prepared for the American intelligence community by the Federal Research Division, an adjunct of the Library of Congress. The report stated, "Suicide bombers belonging to Al Qaida's martyrdom battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House."
Ramzi Yousef was one of the planners and participants in the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. Yousef's right-hand man, Abdul Hakim Murad, was captured and interrogated in 1995. During that interrogation, Murad described a detailed plot to hijack airplanes and use them as weapons of terrorism. The primary plan was to commandeer eleven commercial planes and blow them up over the Pacific Ocean. The secondary plan was to hijack several planes, which would be flown into CIA headquarters, the World Trade Center, the Sears Tower, the White House and a variety of other targets.
Ramzi Yousef eluded capture until his final apprehension in Pakistan. During his 1997 trial, the plot described by Murad resurfaced. FBI agents testified in the Yousef trial that, "The plan targeted not only the CIA, but other U.S. government buildings in Washington, including the Pentagon."
Abdul Hakim Murad described plans to use hijacked commercial airplanes as weapons in 1995. Ramzi Yousef's trial further exposed the existence of these plans in 1997. Two reports prepared by the American government, one from 1993 and another from 1999, further detailed again the existence and danger of these plots. The Federal Express employee's hijacking attempt in 1994, the attempted airplane attack on the White House in 1994, and the hijacking of the Air France flight in 1994 by terrorists intending to fly the plane into the Eiffel Tower provided a glaring underscore to the data.
This data served to underscore the efforts made by the Clinton administration to combat international terrorism and attacks against the United States. Unfortunately, the data and the work that inspired it was not followed up on.
A mission statement from the internal FBI Strategic Plan, dated 5/8/98, describes the FBI's Tier One priority as 'counterterrorism.' The FBI, under the Clinton administration, was making counterterrorism its highest priority. The official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General Janet Reno to department heads, dated 4/6/2000, detailed how counterterrorism was her top priority for the Department of Justice. In the second paragraph, she states, "In the near term as well as the future, cybercrime and counterterrorism are going to be the most challenging threats in the criminal justice area. Nowhere is the need for an up-to-date human and technical infrastructure more critical."
Contrast this with the official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General John Ashcroft, dated 5/10/2001. Out of seven strategic goals described, not one mentions counterterrorism. An internal draft of the Department of Justice's plans to revamp the official DoJ Strategic Plan, dated 8/9/2001, describes Ashcroft's new priorities. The areas Ashcroft wished to focus on were highlighted in yellow. Specifically highlighted by Ashcroft were domestic violent crime and drug trafficking prevention. Item 1.3, entitled "Combat terrorist activities by developing maximum intelligence and investigative capability," was not highlighted.
There is the internal FBI budget request for 2003 to the Department of Justice, dated late August 2001. This was not the FBI's total budget request, but was instead restricted only to the areas where the FBI specifically requested increases over the previous year's budget. In this request, the FBI specifically asked for, among other things, 54 translators to transcribe the backlog of intelligence gathered, 248 counterterrorism agents and support staff, and
200 professional intelligence researchers. The FBI had repeatedly stated that it had a serious backlog of intelligence data it has gathered, but could not process the data because it did not have the staff to analyze or translate it into usable information. Again, this was August 2001.
The official Department of Justice budget request from Attorney General Ashcroft to OMB Director Mitch Daniels is dated September 10, 2001. This document specifically highlights only the programs slated for above-baseline increases or below-baseline cuts. Ashcroft outlined the programs he was trying to cut. Specifically, Ashcroft was planning to ignore the FBI's specific requests for more translators, counterintelligence agents and researchers. It additionally shows Ashcroft was trying to cut funding for counterterrorism efforts, grants and other homeland defense programs before the 9/11 attacks.
Along with these new priorities, which demoted terrorism significantly, there were the warnings delivered to the Bush administration about potential attacks against the United States. Newspapers in Germany, France, Russia and London reported in the months before September 11th a blizzard of warnings delivered to the Bush administration from a number of allies.
The German intelligence service, BND, warned American and Israeli agencies that terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft and use them as weapons to attack important American targets. Egypt warned of a similar plot to use airplanes to attack Bush during the G-8 summit in Genoa in June of 2001. This warning was taken so seriously that anti-aircraft missiles were deployed around Columbus Airport in Italy.
In August of 2001, Russian intelligence services notified the CIA that 25 terrorist pilots had been trained for suicide missions, and Putin himself confirmed that this warning was delivered "in the strongest possible terms," specifically regarding threats to airports and government buildings.
In that same month, the Israeli security agency Mossad issued a warning to both the FBI and the CIA that up to 200 bin Laden followers were planning a major assault on America, aimed at vulnerable targets. The Los Angeles Times later confirmed via unnamed US officials that the Mossad warnings had been received.
On August 6, 2001, George W. Bush received his Presidential Daily Briefing. The briefing described active plots to attack the United States by Osama bin Laden. The word "hijacking" appeared in that briefing. Bush reacted to this warning by continuing with his month-long vacation in Texas.
Richard Clarke, former Director of Counter-Terrorism for the National Security Council, has worked on the terrorist threat for the Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. administrations, amassing a peerless resume in the field. He became a central figure in the commission investigating the September 11 attacks. Clarke has laid bare an ugly truth: The administration of George W. Bush did not consider terrorism or the threat of al-Qaeda to be a priority prior to the attacks.
Clarke, along with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who as a member of the National Security Council was privy to military strategy meetings, indicated that the Bush administration was obsessed with an invasion of Iraq from the day it arrived in Washington. This obsession continued even after the attacks, despite the fact that the entire intelligence community flatly declared that Iraq was not involved.
Five years later, the questions surrounding what exactly happened on September 11, and why they were allowed to happen, remain unsettled. A recent national poll conducted by Scripps Howard/Ohio University states that more than one third of Americans believe that Bush's government either actively assisted in the 9/11 attacks, or allowed them to happen so as to create a justification for war in the Middle East.
The New York Post, reporting on this poll, stated, "Widespread resentment and alienation toward the national government appears to be fueling a growing acceptance of conspiracy theories about the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Seventy percent of people who give credence to these theories also say they've become angrier with the federal government than they used to be."
"Thirty-six percent of respondents overall," continued the Post, "said it is 'very likely' or 'somewhat likely' that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them 'because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.' 'One out of three sounds high, but that may very well be right,' said Lee Hamilton, former vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also called the 9/11 Commission). His Congressionally-appointed investigation concluded that federal officials bungled their attempts to prevent, but did not participate in, the attacks by al-Qaeda five years ago. 'A lot of people I've encountered believe the U.S. government was involved," Hamilton said. 'Many say the government planned the whole thing.'"
The passage of time will, in all likelihood, finally expose the truth behind exactly what happened on September
11, and why. Until the moment of final revelation comes, however, we are all best served by a systematic analysis of the facts surrounding that dark day. Efforts such as this ABC miniseries to use 9/11 as a partisan club should be shunned, and hard data should be highlighted instead.
Back in 2003, CBS was forced to pull its miniseries "The Reagans," after conservative groups lambasted the network for crossing the line into advocacy against the Reagan administration. A similar effort should perhaps be undertaken to compel ABC to pull "The Path to 9/11." At no time should a conservative producer with an anti-Clinton axe to grind be allowed to use public airwaves to broadcast a rank distortion of the truth, especially on the anniversary of the worst day in our history.
I was reading "The Mother Tongue" by Bill Bryson, and in his section about anagrams he had the following:
RONALD WILSON REAGAN = INSANE ANGLO WARLORD
SPIRO AGNEW = GROW A PENIS
So I played around for a while and came up with this one:
GEORGE WALKER BUSH = WHORE BURGLES A KEG
Feel free to add your own.
I just sent this LTTE to our local paper. It occurred to me that sometimes I forget that not everyone keeps up-to-date with what's going on in the world, so I took advantage of * press conference last week to write the following letter. (This is my fourth LTTE to our local paper. I'm getting quite a rep as a "radical." )
More people eat ice cream in the summer; more people drown in the summer. Therefore, eating ice cream causes drowning. True or false?
Remember that old chestnut? It’s a classic question many of us studied in high school or college, designed to easily demonstrate the difference between correlation and causation. Here’s another question for you:
Saddam Hussein is a bad man; the attacks on 9/11 were done by bad men. Therefore, Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11. True or false?
But wait a minute, you say. That certainly isn’t the argument the government has used to justify the war in Iraq. Hmm. Let‘s look at a few statements from the government. Here’s an excerpt from the president’s letter to Congress on March 18, 2003: "The use of military force against Iraq … is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001." And another statement by the President on May 1, 2003: "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on.” Please note the careful avoidance of actually saying Iraq attacked us on 9/11.
But the government has told us that Saddam had links to Al Qaeda, you reply. Why, yes they have, over and over and over; again, please note they’ve very carefully not elaborated on those “links.” There are two good reasons for this. The first reason is because any causative “links” have been thoroughly discredited by official reports, such as that put forth by the 9/11 commission way back in 2004: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States." The second reason is even more fun: if readers are familiar with the idea behind “Six Degrees of Separation,” they’ll remember that possibly everyone in the world has links to Al Qaeda -- even that retired school marm in Iowa -- so it’s not really a lie to say Saddam and Al Qaeda had links, is it?
Recent polls indicate that 60% of Americans oppose the war in Iraq. (This is the “fringe” element we’ve heard so much about lately.) The following is for that 25% who just can’t bother themselves examining why we’re engaged in a war that’s soon to cost us $318.5 billion, and who still -- today -- believe that Saddam attacked us on 9/11:
Excerpts from the transcript from the President’s press conference on August 21, 2006:
THE PRESIDENT: “…The terrorists attacked us and killed 3000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the middle east.”
THE PRESIDENT: “What did Iraq have to do with what?”
REPORTER: “The attack on the World Trade Center.”
THE PRESIDENT: “Nothing! Except for it’s part of…and nobody’s ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq…”
Hope that clears things up for some of you.
Jane and John Doe lived in a quiet neighborhood, part of an affluent neighborhood on the edge of a delightful forest preserve. Although everyone loved the quiet beauty of the surrounding trees, occasional vermin infestations were a fact of life, so each homeowner contracted with an exterminator to keep bugs, mice, etc. at a distance. The Does, who had one of the nicest houses, had contracted with an exterminator for years with success: there’d been several infestations either completely prevented or dealt with efficiently when they occurred. A few months before their exterminator’s contract was up, he told them about a termite infestation next door, and suggested that he could make sure it didn’t spread to their house if they would authorize (pay) him to take care of it. Needless to say, they were indignant at the mere thought.
“I know a guy from the country club,” said John, “who’s starting up his own exterminating business. What say we hire him?”
“Does he have any experience?” asked Jane.
“He’s got consultants up the wazoo,” said John. “Besides, he’s a lot of fun to be around. I say we try him.”
And so they did.
Several months later, the pillars on their front porch fell down. Frantic, Jane and John called their exterminator all that day and the next, but to no avail. One of their neighbors brought over a pie, and another helped them prop up their porch roof with some 2x4’s. Mr. Thicket (for that was his name) finally showed up on the third day after their pillars collapsed, shook his head sorrowfully, and said, “Ya know, them termites from next door musta got into them pillars. I’m awful surprised that guy you had afore me dint do sumpin. BUT, fer a nominal fee, I’ll git started on that problem next door.” Shaken, the Does agreed, and signed the amended contract.
Mr. Thicket and his consultants got to work right away. They took sledgehammers and attacked the walls of the house next door with a vengeance. The Does watched from their kitchen window with some surprise. Mr. Thicket ambled over. “That’s a start!” he announced, before they could speak. “Now lemme tell you, that there house down at the corner is where all the trouble started. It’ll cost you some, but me’n my consultants all agree that’s the way to go. “ John and Jane thought for a minute. Surely they could afford to pay a little extra to get at the root of the problem. But the place next door was now a bit of an eyesore, what with the open holes in the walls and such.
“Are you gonna finish up next door, too?” asked Jane.
“We plan on finishing up there simultaneous-like with the job down the street.”
“I say go for it,” said John, who didn’t really like the folks on the corner anyhow.
The next morning Mr. Thicket and his consultants got busy down at the corner. They set to with a will and a sledgehammer, and soon debris was flying everywhere. Day after day, Mr. Thicket and his cronies hammered away, and bits of lumber, drywall, insulation, and broken glass soon littered the landscape. Month after month the exterminator’s statements came.
Jane frowned. “If he doesn’t take care of the infestation pretty soon, we’re going to need to take out a second mortgage,” she said to John one evening. “And he still hasn’t cleaned up the mess he made next door. I think you’d better talk to him, John.” John agreed rather absentmindedly (he was immersed in his favorite TV show American Idle). That night, John and Mr. Thicket set up a meeting, and John came rolling home in the wee hours of the morning. “Are you drunk?” Jane demanded. “Nahhhh…t at all,” John grinned. “Thicket’s a great guy. Just a great guy. I renewed our contract . Gotta keep after those nasty bugs, ‘n better the mess is down at the corner than here, right? We can’t get rid of him in the middle of the job, after all.”
Not long after, Jane was enjoying her morning shower when she happened to glance up at the transom window in the bathroom. She shrieked. There was Mr. Thicket peering in, waving and grinning.
“What are you doing?” she demanded, clutching a towel around herself.
“I’m jist makin’ sure y’aren’t doin’ nothin’ to encourage the bugs,” he said with an amiable grin.
Jane stormed into the study, where John sat pouring over the monthly bills. “That’s it.” she growled. “I have HAD it.” She told John what had happened. “What’s more, this neighborhood looks like a car wreck. That debris down at the corner is just flying all over, and I’m sure I saw a rat slinking through one of those open holes next door. We’ve been spending so much on Thicket’s job that we haven’t been able to fix the front porch yet, and it’s embarrassing. Whenever I meet the neighbors, I’m just positive they’re laughing at us. Or sneering. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP.“ John mumbled. He hated to admit he was wrong, but the bills were getting out of hand. Jane added the clincher. “For all we know, there’s still termites hiding in our sub floor. How would we know? Mr. Thicket’s never really looked, has he?” The floor beneath them seemed to quiver in agreement.
John cleared his throat. “I don’t think we can break the contract. Look here.” He showed Jane the agreement with Mr. Thicket.
“He’s added that part himself,” Jane cried. “That’s…ILLEGAL!”
“I dunno,” muttered John. “I think we’re screwed.”
“We’ll just see about that,” Jane said, a martial gleam in her eye…
Tune in this November to see what happens.
I live in a small rural community in Missouri. We happen to have an ex-WH correspondent living here, who attended the correspondent's dinner and had a big write-up in our small newspaper about it, along with a picture of him posing with the doppelganger *. He only mentioned Colbert as "not much to write home about," so I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents worth:
I read with some interest former White House correspondent Bob Moore’s remarks on his attendance at the White House Correspondents’ dinner in Washington on April 29th. It was an amusing article, but I admit I was rather bemused by his throw-away critique of Stephen Colbert as "not much to write home about." This, to me, seems to point out one of the ways that Americans are becoming more and more divided on the current administration -- where they get their news: on the internet; from TV, radio, or newspapers; or (in its own special class) Fox News.
If you had heard about Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner on TV or radio, or read about the event in newspapers, you would have heard A) he wasn’t really funny, B) he was terribly rude, or C) nothing. On the other hand, if you do a google search on "Stephen Colbert" on the internet, you will find over 12 million hits. (That’s in contrast to under 2 million hits for the "O’Reilly Factor," just for a point of comparison.) If you check out Google top ranking videos, you’ll find Colbert’s monologue at the dinner still ranked Number 1, as of today, May 12th. That makes him a bit larger than a nine day wonder, at least on the internet. Why such a difference?
In just under 25 minutes, Colbert manage to skewer the administration on such unpopular topics as the illegal NSA wiretapping, outsourcing jobs, the military’s stop-loss program, the gratuitous outing of a CIA agent and the doublespeak that followed, the Iraqi "government," the U.S. secret prisons in Eastern Europe, and more. He touched on Bush’s low poll numbers, Cheney’s shooting accident, and Justice Scalia’s rude Italian gestures. Oddly enough, these all got laughs from the audience. But the laughs subsided when Colbert accosted the media itself, with a few special digs for Fox news, the media’s complicity in Bush photo ops, and a passing allusion to Jeff Gannon. (Who? Google him). His advice to the media, who he congratulated for merely writing down the information the White House fed them and consequently saving themselves lots of valuable time: "Write that novel you’ve got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know, fiction." Gosh, why oh why was the media not amused?
No, the media was not amused. But for the past six years the netroots community has sat and watched this administration stumble from one scandal to another -- either from reasons of abject ineptitude or outright criminality -- with a congenial and complicit mainstream media offering explanations, excuses, red herrings, and the occasional faint "Hey!" trailing along behind. Colbert’s pricking of their self-congratulatory bubble was hysterically funny.
And just who is Colbert? Since last fall, he is the host of "The Colbert Report," a spin-off from Jon Stewart’s "The Daily Show." Both are dubbed "fake" news shows, but it’s rather telling to note that "The Daily Show" won Peabody awards in 2000 and 2004 for the best election coverage. That’s a fake news show beating out all the major networks, folks.
And what’s been the upshot of all this internet hoopla? Suddenly, folks other than the usual political news junkies are watching the video and then doing searches on Colbert’s references. Who’s Valerie Plame? Google her. What’s that deal with Helen Thomas all about? Google her.
No, I suppose Colbert’s speech wasn’t much to write home about. E-mail’s much quicker. ROTFLMAO.
Someone started a thread the other night calling for us to write to Al Gore to thank him. Another former Congressional staffer noted that letters that are handwritten get top priority. So here's my letter, which I've written out in my best penmanship:
Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Ave.
Nashville, TN 37203
Your speech on MLK day brought tears to my eyes and, oddly enough since your message was so dire, a renewed sense of hope. What a relief to have someone articulate so eloquently the danger this administration poses to our country. There are so many of us who feel trapped in this national nightmare; we have been astounded and dismayed, again and again, by the outrages committed by Bush & Co. which are merely shrugged at by the media, if they are mentioned at all. Our only solace is interchange with like-minded individuals on the internet. One fellow DUer (on democraticunderground.com) reminded us all of that sophomoric meme from the last election: "Bush was the man folks would like to have a beer with." He wryly noted that the nation has been drunk ever since, and the hangover's going to be a doozy.
Thank you, sir, for speaking truth to power.
There was a history of Lincoln on TV the same day you spoke, and I noted with interest that Lincoln re-entered the political arena after a long absence because he was appalled that slavery would spread to the western states. He feared for our nation's soul. Sir, we are a nation in trouble. We are in dire need of a leader of your integrity, intelligence, and vision. I add my plea to that of millions of others: please run for president in 2008. We would like to re-elect you.
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
FL GOP tries to close state pension system to new workers, yet take THEIR pension at 2X accrual rate
FL GOP denies $51 billion federal Medicaid to poor, yet order cheap health care for themselves
Happy Mother's Day
I love DU2!
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R) ran company now accused of Medicaid fraud (Rick Scott redux)
Mediterranean diet cuts risk of heart dis-ease
By No Elephants
Most surprising Oscar story for me:
By No Elephants
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.