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Monday, September 12, 2005

 

Brown's out

Michael Brown has resigned as the director of FEMA after his miserable failure in handling the Katerina tragedy. He was surely asked to leave by someone in the administration (probably Karl Rove). I'm glad to see that he's gone. He should have never gotten the job in the first place. I'm worried however that he will be used as a scapegoat and be forced to take the fall for the rest of the administrations negligence and disregaurd for human life. People will need to remain vigilant because it's not beyond this administration to do something like that.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

 

Wal Mart

The problem of Wal Mart has been getting a lot of press recently. I hope that sooner or later we hit a critical mass of people who just refuse to shop there. I do not wish to see Wal Mart destroyed. Instead, I would rather see Wal Mart changed their business practices and become a leader in doing what is right.

Deb Rousu doesn't consider herself a rabble-rouser. But when asked recently to sign a petition pledging not to shop at Wal-Mart, she grabbed the pen without hesitation.

"Why should the American public be helping a huge corporation pay for employee health care?" asked Rousu, a nurse from Plymouth who had heard that a lot of Wal-Mart workers use state-subsidized health insurance.

The petition Rousu signed -- and the fact that she was aware of the insurance debate -- is evidence of the anti-Wal-Mart crusade that is gaining momentum in Minnesota. In recent months, the state has seen teacher protests, door-to-door canvassing, booths at neighborhood festivals and petitions at the State Fair denouncing everything from Wal-Mart's labor practices to its "destruction" of small-town Main Streets.
karen kraska won't shop at wal-mart

Meanwhile a so-called "Wal-Mart bill" that would have required Minnesota to calculate which employers have the largest numbers of workers enrolled in MinnesotaCare, the state's subsidized health insurance program for low-income workers, came close to becoming law this summer.

Wal-Mart officials call many of the actions "publicity stunts" by groups with their own political agendas. They insist that workers are offered fair wages and benefits, and that their stores' presence improves the communities they serve.

The anti-Wal-Mart swell points to the unique role that Wal-Mart has come to play, social observers say.

"Wal-Mart represents everything that we fear -- or want -- at the same time," said Hy Berman, a retired University of Minnesota history professor.

"What we want is cheap stuff, sold to us efficiently. But many people fear the encroachment of big business, the destruction of Ma and Pa businesses."

Wal-Mart belongs to a handful of American corporations that, historically, have come to symbolize transformations in the economy, Berman said. At the turn of the century, it was U.S. Steel, he said. Then it was General Motors. In our current service economy, it's Wal-Mart.

"It goes from big steel to big auto to big box," said Berman.

Battle on many fronts

The Wal-Mart debate is growing as fast as the firm itself -- and it goes far beyond the usual T-shirts, mugs and bumper stickers. Books, conferences, TV documentaries, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper series and countless media reports have examined the sweeping effects of the world's largest retailer, both good and bad. A new video documentary is slated for release this fall, and already organizers are setting up Twin Cities showings.

There are websites devoted exclusively to tracking Wal-Mart, with names like walmartwatch. com and wakeupwalmart.com. The retailer counters with walmartfacts.com.

Minnesotans have been eyeing the retailer for distinct reasons. Earlier this year, for example, about 75 members of churches around St. Paul's West Side gathered to talk about the effect that a Wal-Mart could have on shaping wage and benefit standards in their community.

"The businesses of west St. Paul have ethical standards around the way their employees are treated," said the Rev. Steve Adrian of St. Matthew's Catholic Church, which hosted the event. "Anything that could erode their benefits or lifestyle has a direct impact on this congregation.

"When it's time to negotiate contracts with Rainbow and Cub, what's to make them pay benefits that their competitor isn't paying?"

Meanwhile, members of the Sierra Club in Minnesota often show up at local government meetings where new Wal-Mart stores are being considered, said Karen Harder, who leads the club's water quality committee. The group doesn't focus exclusively on Wal-Mart, but it is very concerned about how stores like Wal-Mart affect urban sprawl, wetlands and other environmental problems, she said.

"You won't find our members chained to bulldozers," said Harder, "but if we hear about a plan [to build a store], we try to get involved as soon as possible."

 

Books of the Month

The books I have chosen for the month of September are Less than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis and God's Politics by Jim Wails.

Less than Zero is one of my favorite novels. It's not directly political, but it deals with social issues of wealth and excess in society. The novel takes us into the lives of a a group of wealthy college students coming home for winter break. We see the moral atrophy of their lives. The book shows how unfulfilling a life of extream decadance can be.

God's Politics has made more sense than most any other book that I have read recently. The author talks about how the religious right has misappropriated the teachings of the bible. He calls for a public discourse on religion and the bible, but it should't be framed in the terms that the religious right has used. He argues that issues of war, poverty, wealth, and empire are far more deserving of attention than abortion and gay marriage.

 

A little early, but still interesting...

Already, New Hampshire beckons the hopefuls
Brian Faler
Washington Post
Published September 11, 2005


Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was there recently. So was Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, is expected this week. The Republican governor of Massachusetts? A little later this month.

The 2008 presidential election is still a long way off, but the potential contenders have begun making their way to New Hampshire. More than a dozen lawmakers believed to be considering bids have been to the Granite State, the expected site of the first presidential primary election, since last November. Among the Democrats, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was there in June. So was retired Gen. Wesley Clark. Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh has been up. So has John Edwards -- three times, in fact. Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold is slated to make his first trip this month.

Republicans have been just as busy. Arizona Sen. John McCain visited in December. Since then, colleagues Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, George Allen of Virginia and Sam Brownback of Kansas have stopped by. Same goes for Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee has been to New Hampshire three times.

"It's way early," said state Republican Party chairman Warren Henderson, who attributed the unusually early forays to the wide-open nature of the '08 race. It is expected to be the first time in more than 50 years in which neither a sitting president nor a vice president is running.

The visiting lawmakers typically spend their time at fundraisers, picnics, potlucks and house parties -- wherever they happen to be invited. For some, such as Huckabee, who was making his first trip to New Hampshire, the visits give them an opportunity to introduce themselves to local activists. For others, it's a chance to meet old supporters.

"It's all about putting a toe in the water," Henderson said. "You might want to go see what kind of response you get. Do New Hampshire audiences react to you the same as audiences in your home state? For a lot of these folks, they may not really know how they're going to be perceived."


What interests me most are the names, especially that of Russ Feingold. I have to say, I love Feingold, but I think I like him much more as a Senator than a President. It's also nice to see that Sen. McCain is possibly in the running. That being said, however, he's a very dangerous candidate that will be hard to beat. I will say right now that I think the Democrats can do better than any of the '04 field. Kerry was the wrong candidate last time and will be again in'08. But that enough speculating for now. We need to save some to spread over the next 3 years or so.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

 

An American Failure

The fall of New Orleans is something that will have an impact on the political future of out nation. This was the worst disaster in American history, and it did not have to happen the way that it did. It was not a preventable attack in the way that 9/11 was. We were not caught off gaurd sleeping at the switch this time. We knew days in advance that the hurricane was going to hit and that it was going to be bad. People who were able to get out did so, and the rest were just left to face the hurricane on their own. The urban predominantly minority population of New Orleans was not given much assistance to get out of way of the storm. Another thing that could have led to this being far less of a tragedy in scope. The leve and pumps that were there to proected the city were not in good shape, and President Bush diverted the funds to update the system to the war in Iraq. A large portion of the LA national gaurd is also on the ground in Iraq and were unable to offer aid to their neighbors. The gaurd units that remained were ill suited for the large scale task of saving New Orleans. For the most part this were small town units that didn't possess the infastructure for a large scale rescue.

After the Hurricane hit it became clear right away that this was a major disaster. Even with that, President Bush did not end his vacation until the third day after it hit land. Vice President Dick Chenney remained on vacation for roughly a week after it hit. Lastly, secretary of state Condoliza Rice began a New York vacation the day the Hurricane hit. She went shoe shopping and attended a Broadway show while people died unnecessary deaths. This complete avoidance of the most dire natural disaster in our history ammounts to little more than Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns. This whole scale lack of compassion is both completly unfathomable to average americans, and should not be forgotten by them.

The group primarily responsible for directing efforts in New Orleans was FEMA (Federal Emergency Managment Association) completly botched the job. Neither Mike Brown, the FEMA director, or his cheif of staff or deputy cheif of staff have had any career experience with disaster relief of any kind. These people were, however, all political friends of the Bush administration. Like the rest of our government's executive branch, FEMA that a hurricane was going to hit New Orleans, but they did nothing to be prepared to move in and help out people in it's wake. After the Hurriacne did strike, FEMA was slow to identify needs and react to them. They turned down many offers of assistance for New Orleans(far too many examples to list here but if you go through the KOS archives you'll find them spread around in there). It seems incredably unlikely that these offers were turned down from maliciousness. In all likelyhood the people organizing the relief efforts were unable to deal with such a large scale opperation that they were just swamped and couldn't effectivly do their job. FEMA director Brown has already been recused from the relief efforts and should be fired immediatly for incompotence.

The future doesn't look good for New Orleans right now. Eighty percent of the city is underwater, and this will be a long and difficult effort to bring things back to normal (or as close to it as possible). It's going to take a lot of time and a lot of money in order to fix this one. 400,000 people have lost their jobs because of this. I'm no economist, but i know that right now it'll be hard for people to find work even with the promise which some people will see, of their origional job back. This could be really bad news for our already wobbly economy.

lastly I can't write about something this big without talking about the Political implications of it. Katerina was 2 disasters, one of nature and one of the federal government. The government failed in their primary duty of protecting the citizens. There should have been an organized evacuation of New Orleans before the storm hit, but there wasn't. There should have been effective methods of flood control in New orleans, but there wern't. There should have been a well executed, organized relief effort, but again there wasn't. For these reasons, this is a failure of the Bush administration. This isn't like 9/11 where the president recieves a free pass because we were attacked by an enemy. This time it is his administration that is at fault and the gloves are off. The only rational thing for the democrats to do in a situation like this is to attack the government's failures. This is the best way to hammer home the message that they (and Bush by proxy screwed up). Bush's approval is already at 39% right now. I think as we investigate the failures of this more, that astronomically low number will get even lower.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

 

Banning the mediahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

Things like this just don't happen in the America I know.
Via Americablog


Bob Brigham has just reported - and this is why we need OUR folks on the ground, to report this stuff - the military is banning all reporters from New Orleans. Outrageous. If you kill a couple thousand people, you definitely want to keep the media and the public from finding out.

Bush is literally trying to hide the bodies. This is beyond outrageous.

They're trying to hide the bodies. Who the hell does Bush think he is? So much for the First Amendment, so much for the Constitution, so much for a democratic government.

Hey, Democrats, time to speak up LOUDLY. This is what military regimes do, what dictatorships do, it's not what democracies do. We don't hide our dead bodies in our to spare our leaders their well-due shame.

I hope the media is all over this.

As we already know, Bush is banning the media from taking any photos of the dead. So here's a thought:

Get a media helicopter, fly in, and let them shoot you down. Do you really think the Natl Guard is going to shoot down CNN? Especially if they have a few Democratic congressmen on board? Doubt it. And are they going to arrest those Democratic congressmen for taking photos of the recovery? Doubt it.

PS And Kyle is still on his way as our correspondent - we're not gonna let some petty dictator stop us.



UPDATE


It appears that the media is finally growing enough of a spine to stand up to the bush administration.

U.S. won't ban media from New Orleans searches
CNN filed suit for right to cover search for bodies of Katrina victims

Rather than fight a lawsuit by CNN, the federal government abandoned its effort Saturday to prevent the media from reporting on the recovery of the dead in New Orleans.

Joint Task Force Katrina "has no plans to bar, impede or prevent news media from their news gathering and reporting activities in connection with the deceased Hurricane Katrina victim recovery efforts," said Col. Christian E. deGraff, representing the task force.

U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison issued a temporary restraining order Friday against a "zero access" policy announced earlier in the day by Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who is overseeing the federal relief effort in the city, and Terry Ebbert, the city's homeland security director.

In explaining the ban, Ebbert said, "we don't think that's proper" to let members of the media view the bodies.

The judge was to consider granting a permanent injunction Saturday when the government announced its decision not to enforce the "zero access" policy.

 

By the Numbers

Via Kos

Iraq

Approximate number of U.S. troops currently in Iraq: 139,000

Percent of coalition forces contributed by the U.S.: 85.7

Weeks since the Pentagon developed a plan to draw down U.S. forces in Iraq to roughly 40,000 by mid-2005: 98

Approximate amount appropriated by Congress for Iraq operations so far: $218 billion

Approximate amount spent by the U.S. in World War I: $205 billion

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) found: 0

Number of U.S. service members killed in Iraq: 1,886

Number reported wounded by the Defense Department: 14,265

Approximate number of medical evacuations of U.S. military personnel performed since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom: 55,000

Number of National Guard soldiers killed in Iraq through August 27, 2005: 269

Number of National Guard soldiers killed in the entire Vietnam War: 97

Number of Iraqi military and police killed since training began (June 2003): 3,051

Estimated number of insurgents in Iraq (November 2003): 5,000

Estimated number of insurgents in Iraq (June 2005): 15-20,000

Estimated number of 107 Iraqi military and special police battalions that are capable of operating independently: 3

Amount charged to American taxpayers by Halliburton to build a movie library for its employees: $152 million

Number of movies in the library: 10,000

Total number of nations contributing troops to Iraq as part of President Bush's "coalition of the willing" at some point during the war: 37

Number of these nations that either have withdrawn or plan to withdraw their troops from the coalition: 14

Average size of troop contributions by nations with troops currently deployed to Iraq, excluding the United States, United Kingdom, South Korea, and Italy: 186

Terrorism

Days since September 11, 2001 that Osama bin Laden has remained uncaptured: 1,454

Days after bombing Pearl Harbor that Japan surrendered to U.S. forces: 1,365

Number of times President Bush mentioned the "war on terror" in one month before the 2004 elections: 71

Number of times in the six months following the 2004 elections: 66

Number of terrorist suspects the Bush Administration claims have been convicted since September 11, 2001: 200

Number that have actually been convicted: 39

Recruiting

Recruits needed per month for the rest of the fiscal year, if the Army is to meet its annual goal: 12,396.5

Highest monthly total of Army recruits this year: 8,086

Number of months the Marine Corps missed its recruiting goals between January and April 2005: 4

Number of months the Marine Corps missed its recruiting goals in ten years before January 2005: 0

Prior to 2004, years since the Army National Guard last missed its annual recruiting goal: 11

Consecutive months the Army National Guard has missed its monthly recruiting goals: 9

Number of the six Reserve Components that met their recruiting goals last month: 2

Rate of loss of Army captains and lieutenants, the Army's junior officers, in 2004: 8.5

Average rate of loss of Army captains and lieutenants, 1996-2004: 7.3

Resignation requests submitted by Army Reserve Officers in 2001: 15

Resignation requests submitted by Army Reserve Officers, September 2003-September 2004: 370

Percent of Army enlisted special operations personnel leaving the force in 2004: 13

Percent of Army enlisted special operations personnel leaving in 2003: 6

Monday, September 05, 2005

 

Hurricane

I'm not ready to make a big post dissecting the Hurricane yet. Rest assure there will be one in the near future. So much has gone on with this, and there is new info coming out all the time. The long and short of it is that the American government has failed it's citizens in their time of need. In the mean time here's some thoughts from the drummer of Anthrax i just find this interesting. These are probably the emotions that a lot of people have right now




There cannot be an American out there that feels good right now. I know my voice means Shit, in fact...the way I feel right now, nobody's voice means a thing. Is Louisiana in America?? It doesn't look like it to me. These Politicians are so concerned with making sure they pat themselves on the back and say "congressman so and so did such a great job," WHAT?? I'm sure you are watching what I have been watching, who the hell is doing A GREAT JOB? I was so Happy to see CNN's Anderson Cooper become Human and let his emotions come out and be REAL!

Our Prez does not have the capability to handle these type of things, please don't Jump all over me for saying this... I truly believe it. I just don't "feel it" with him.

What took so long? Why did the Prez on the 2nd day of this Tragedy fly to San Diego and Not to Louisiana? Why so late to act on this? WHY WHY WHY?

We will never get an answer! Think about it? Even if you are a Bush supporter... think for a second... oh, I bet you have some answer if you're a Bush supporter - never mind.

These people are taking any means necessary down there... I would do the same. If your kids, your girl, your mom were dying and needed water or food, what would you do??

We all will pay for this too. Watch how our insurance goes up and GAS will go up more. Why don't they take the tax off of the gas price? People need to get to work, how can they afford to fill their tanks? It cost $52.00 to fill my tank today, and it wasn't even filled up, hahahahaha... I gotta laugh.

Make me a Hybrid that has some style for God's sake!

I am so sorry for what has happened to you people down there my heart and my donation has gone out to you.

I am emotional and venting. Links to donate on the home page. Thanks for reading.

Embarrassed and Sad,
Charlie B

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

 

Those poor ignorant bastards

Who will be remaining ignorant for the foreseeable future. The state of Florida has now hired Cheri Yecki as their new K-12 schools chancellor. She was a pawlenty pick for MN education commissioner and couldn't get confirmed to the post by the state senate. Yecki is an ID supporter and has no problem with indocrinating conservative ideology into student's education. Make no mistake, the state of Florida is dumber for having hired her.

 

Good For Him

President Bush has finally figured out that he needs to actually do his job. He is cutting his unprecedented massive vacation short (by a whopping 2 days, but curtailing it none the less) in order to preside over the nation in the wake of the worst disaster in our History. Thankfully he has ended his streak of cutting and running away from big moments and is acting fairly presidential about something. Hopefully making good decisions will be the next step in this reform.