Tuesday, January 31, 2006
On another issue, 90% of Americans want fundamental change in our health-care system; 60% claim it's a serious personal issue, and 62% believe the federal government should guarantee health insurance for all Americans.
Tonight George Bush will offer a timid plan for Health Savings Accounts along with private insurance for those who earn enough to save the money and afford the premiums. Everyone else will be 'on their own.'
Monday, January 30, 2006
In its request, CREW asked for an expedited response which DHS refused. Crew appealed again and was rebuffed again. Today, CREW sued the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over its continued refusal to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Katrina-related issues.
Here are some specifics CREW wanted to know;
-- communications between the White House and FEMA regarding the preparation for and response to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina;
-- communications regarding offers by corporations and foreign governments to assist the victims of Katrina, and FEMA's response to such offers;
-- information regarding the portion of the $3.1 billion 2005 DHS budget for emergency preparedness that was used to prepare for hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and for potential flooding in New Orleans;
-- information regarding the amount of money that was diverted from natural disaster emergency preparedness to terrorism emergency preparedness and the rationale for any such diversion;
-- studies, assessments, presentations and scenarios created demonstrating the potential impact of a powerful hurricane on the Gulf Coast and proposed responses to such scenarios.
The administration is stone-walling this request, not because of national security reasons, but to hide its incompetence during a national disaster.
"Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today, “President Bush does not have the prerogative to refuse to release documents responsive to a FOIA request. Clearly, the Administration is trying to shield its incompetence from the American people by refusing to comply with legitimate requests for information." Sloan went on to say, "From Abramoff to Katrina, the Administration is trying to conceal the facts from its citizenry. We urge the Administration to release the Katrina-related documents today."
You go, girl!
Saturday, January 28, 2006
American Airlines is a valuable employer for Tulsans and most citizens appreciate their presence. Their corporate behavior, however, reminds me of some Wall Street tycoons milking Washington for government hand-outs.
The airline received $22.3 million from taxpayers in Vision 2025 funds and now they want us to ante up $4.3 million more. Our money would build two temporary hangers that American would rent for $1 per year, in hopes of turning their Tulsa maintenance operations into a "profit center." At a dollar a year rent, even Ford Motor Company could turn a profit!
We might remember that AMR, American’s parent, agreed in 2003, to give the airline's executives and managers up to $568 million in bonuses, based on the company's stock price, not profits. (image placeholder) American Airlines may have lost nearly $600 million in the past four quarters, but this April, about 1,000 managers are scheduled to get nearly the same amount of money in stock-based bonuses. These bonuses will probably be funded by past wage concessions of American's rank and file workers.
With all this new wealth, why couldn’t these executives pony up the money out of their own pockets and pay fair-market rent for the airport land and build the hangers for American, themselves?
Friday, January 27, 2006
This guy is no model citizen; already convicted of two felony drug charges. But, is a life sentence the best solution for this felon and society?
This man’s incarceration will cost taxpayers about $35 to $40 a day. Based on conservative life expectancy data for a 30 year-old male, his imprisonment cost will total about $13,000 per year, or around $525,000 during his lifetime. This doesn’t include medical care in his later years.
Richard Nixon started the modern day “War on Drugs” back in 1971. Through out the 35 years so far, of the anti-drug campaign, a number of laws have been passed by Congress including the mandatory sentencing act. So far there are close to 500,000 people in prisons in the US for drug convictions; more than those in Europe (larger population) for all offenses.
Yes, drug abuse is a national problem and the criminal manifestations cannot be downplayed. The War on Drugs as we have conducted is for the last three decades has been a fiasco and we have more citizens addicted today than ever. It is a public health issue as well as a criminal problem.
We just need different approaches rather than sticking someone in jail for the rest of their life for violating a law that isn’t a deterrent or solution.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
The Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, speaking to students at Georgetown University’s Law School, said that Bush’s un-authorized electronic eavesdropping was legal because George Washington had spies during the Revolution War and Lincoln wire-tapped telegrams of the Confederate forces during the Civil War.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I do know that those who live in the middle-east have long memories, even of events that occurred two centuries ago. From a modern day perspective we do know Iran and Iraq were actually drawn on a map shortly after the First World War. The region was relatively benign, selling its oil to the west, until the Cold War began in the early fifties. Iran became a target of both pro-Western and pro-Soviet forces lusting for the country's vast oil reserves. Seeing popular support growing for nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the CIA and British SIS instigate a coup that overthrows the government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a advocate of nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, and ultimately installs the pro-western Reza Shah Pahlavi. A revolt led by Shiite mullahs and embraced by a broad spectrum of the populace, overthrew the monarchy in 1977.
The mullahs have ruled Iran from that time until the present.
The mullah’s taste for war may have been tempered by the first Persian Gulf War. In late September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran and the following war continued until August 1988. It has been called "the longest conventional warfare of the 20th century", and cost 1 million casualties and $US 1.19 trillion. Not lost on the Iranians is the support the US gave Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
So do the mullahs thirst for war? I don’t know. I will bet their actions to arm themselves are motivated by defensive rather than offensive strategies.
Tags:Iran, Oil, and War
Monday, January 23, 2006
Let me make it abundantly clear, I am no apologist for the Iranian government leadership. I abhor their support for terrorists and still harbor bad feelings about their storming our Embassy several decades ago. Their radical theocratic regime does not serve the interests of Iranian people and could destabilize the middle-east region. The rhetoric from the president of Iran about wiping out Israel is deranged and not connected to reality. The theme of my thoughts about Iran is not so much about the politics of that country, but about the questionable strategy of our government in dealing with another thorny adversary.
Iran is a sovereign country whether the Bush administration likes it or not. Mr. Bush did us no favors in calling Iran part of an, “axis of evil,” in his 2002 State of the Union address.
Now Bushco is pulling the same people out to spin the Iranian threat story as it did with Iraq, beginning September 11, 2001. Steve Clemons writes cryptically about this today at The Washington Note.
Let me amplify on the threat of the Iranian Oil Bourse. First, bourse is an european term for a stock exchange. Iran plans to have an oil exchange up and running by March of this year. The only other oil exchanges in the world are the NYMEX in New York and London’s IPE. As mentioned yesterday, both these exchanges trade in US dollars, and significantly, the UK didn’t switch to the euro. So now Iran plans to open an oil exchange that is denominated in euros versus the US dollar. If the Iran Oil Bourse is successful, it will deliver a significant body bunch to the US financial system's mid-section. How severe and long-lasting will the pain be? Stay tuned.
In the meantime, the administration will continue to beat the drums of an urgent threat coming from Iran’s nuclear program, which our own intelligence consortium refutes, while it is burying it's head in the Persian sand, about the oil beneath.
Tags: George Bush, Iran, and Oil
Sunday, January 22, 2006
A Washington Post article last August, laid out the intelligence estimate that came from a consensus of the government'sintelligence agencies. The article said this intelligence report “projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand knowledge of the new analysis.” The article reiterates that this consensus comes from all US intelligence agencies. The administration’s mouthpieces are conspicuous in their avoiding “intelligence reports” in their screeds, but they all are saying, “a military response is on the table.”
So why the drumbeat for military action against an Iranian nuclear threat that is non-existent right now and is at least ten years down the road?
Try this analysis. First, in 1971, as it became clearer and clearer that the U.S Government would not be able to buy back its dollars in gold, our government made an iron-clad arrangement with Saudi Arabia to support the power of the House of Saud in exchange for accepting only U.S. dollars for its oil. Later, the rest of OPEC was to follow suit and also accept only dollars. Because the world had to buy oil from the Arab oil countries, it had the reason to hold dollars as payment for oil
Oil contracts are executed only on the exchanges in New York and London. Secondly, It is no coincidence that the enormous US foreign debt and trade deficit is denominated in US dollars and as this debt and trade deficit grows, the value of the US dollar declines. As the value of the US dollar drops, because of inflation, we still get cheaper goods and our trading partners’ dollar reserves continue to lose value. Fortunately, the holders of US dollars can at least buy oil with their surplus dollars and as their demand for oil grows, it will be a convenient way to use some of their US currency holdings. Suffice it to say that the Chinese, Saudis and other Asian countries are not comfortable holding huge US dollar reserves, that depreciate in value.
Enter Iran, a major oil supplier. Iran doesn’t like to keep it’s currency reserves in US dollars because of the rhetoric from Washington and experience in the past. The US supported Iraq, you’ll remember, back in the eighties, in it’s seven year war with Iran. Those who live in the middle-east have long memories. They do not forget. Just recently, Iran has begun to move it’s currency reserves into other currencies and other financial institutions. They also learned from Saddam that you can earn the wrath of the US for accepting euros for oil as Iraq did during the sanctions period. As a result of US policies and Iran’s yearning for respect, the Iranian government has finally developed the ultimate "nuclear" weapon that can swiftly destroy the financial system underpinning the American Empire. That weapon is the Iranian Oil Bourse slated to open in March 2006. It will be based on a euro-oil-trading mechanism that naturally implies payment for oil in Euro. In economic terms, this represents a much greater threat to the hegemony of the dollar than Saddam's, because it will allow anyone willing either to buy or to sell oil for Euro to transact on the exchange, thus circumventing the U.S. dollar altogether.
You don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to figure out what that could mean to the US economy. As countries start trading in euros and get rid of US dollars, inflation in the US could surge into double digits, bringing on a deep recession and oil hits $100 or more, per barrel. As a result, the stock market tumbles as the value of the stock of Big Oil, Halliburton, the Carlyle Group, and the Wall Street backers of George Bu$h shrinks to a fraction of it's former worth.
Far fetched? You decide.
Tags: George Bush, Iran, and Oil
Friday, January 20, 2006
The closing of the Delta Faucet Company plant in
The increase in job holders in
Yesterday, Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune asked the city council to spend $4.3 million to build new hangers for American Airines. This is in addition to $22.3 million in incentives the city gave the airline in 2003.
Of course, American is blackmailing LaFortune by saying, "if the city of Tulsa doesn't build these hangers, we'll assign the additional work to Kansas City." LaFortune's response is that the airport needs the additions and American would be a temporary tenant of the hangers. The mayor also claims that growth of other businesses at the airport necessites the additional hangers after American's lease expires.
I'm sure my friends in the union at American would quickly point out to Mayor LaFortune that the company hasn't been exactly fair to their employees, extracting wage cuts from the nuts and bolts workers who make the airline hum, while lavishing huge bonuses on the top brass.
I think the council should delay a decision until after the mayoral elections when the citizens will decide on LaFortune's stewardship.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Several weeks ago, a developer wanted to build a subdivision in Mautino’s district and the councilor went to bat for him. Under recently enacted rules, the city will install sewers and water lines in new subdivisions if the developer would guarantee the cost. In other words, the city didn’t want to get hung with the expense of running these sewers without assurances of the development ultimately repaying the city.
Councilor Mautino told the Public Works Department that the developer's ‘word’ was good enough for him and that the Public Works should agree. When the Public Works required the developer to put up a letter of credit, the developer refused because the project was ‘too risky’.
Now, out of the blue, Councilor Mautino wants an audit of . . . . guess what department? The Public Works Department! Plus, the councilor wants to spend $100,000 and have the funds taken out the Public Works Department’s budget. Time for Councilor Jim Mautino to go.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Sunday, robbers went into a bar on South Peoria and for a robbery and shot four people, possible paralyzing the bartender. A 25 year-old man was arrested a short distance away, and charged with the shootings.
Saturday, a 15 year-old boy was shot and killed after attempting to rob a store that’s been robbed several times before. The store worker, who was licensed to carry, shot the boy after a struggle with him and his accomplices. An eighteen year-old girl was driving the get-away car.
Only last week, two youths 17 and 16 years-old, abducted a 22 year-old Mexican woman in an apartment laundry after an attempted robbery. They drug her to a nearby ditch and brutally beat her to death, in retribution for not having any money.
Not long before that, a group of youths savagely beat an elderly man nearly to death. From all reports, this was unprovoked.
Earlier, two, 23 and 21 years old were sentenced to long prison terms for a Tulsa bank robbery
What causes these young people to throw caution to the wind and commit these egregious acts without any consideration for the victims or especially their own future? Didn’t they know that bank robbers always get caught? What is going on in their minds? What reality do these violent youths live in? What’s their world like? Why do they value the lives of others so cheaply?
We cannot even put a dent in this growing problem by hiring more cops, prosecutors and judges. Building more prisons isn’t a solution. Government is not the entire solution, either. But at this pace, Tulsa will match the murder rate of Washington, D.C.
Ironically, as we’ve just celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, we ignore the most basic underlying social foundations that foster criminal behavior, that Dr. King gave his life to illuminate and correct.
No society will ever eliminate crime, but our city leaders need to assign the highest priority to this unacceptable level of violent crimes, instead of an Arkansas River bridge in south Tulsa or revamping the city charter.
Tags: Tulsa, Crime, and Government.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
McCellan offered no rebuttal to Gore’s accusations which included;
"just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States." . . “the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place. But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements turned out to be false”.
"A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government."
"Where we disagree is that we have to break the law or sacrifice our system of government to protect Americans from terrorism. In fact, doing so makes us weaker and more vulnerable."
"If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?"
And Gore quoting the Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said,
"If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."I don't think the adminisration has any idea how to extinguish the huge wildfire that's blazing around them. Here's a clue for Mr. McCellan; By a margin of 52% to 43%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval.
Tags: George Bush, Eavesdropping, and Impeachment.
Monday, January 16, 2006
"In the face of rising gas prices, partisan sniping over Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, and a resumption of insurgent violence in Iraq, President Bush’s job approval rating has slipped into a post-holiday funk, again dipping below 40%, a new telephone poll by Zogby International shows.With falling poll numbers, the President's State of the Union speech might be interesting, but my guess it will be more of the same . . ."stay the course", . . . victory not defeat."
His approval rating almost mirrors the percentage of respondents (40%) who said the nation overall is headed in the right direction.
Among investors, Bush’s support for managing the war dropped five points since October, from 45% to 40%, Zogby data shows. But Zogby said the glaring split between how Republicans, Democrats and independents think the President is handling Iraq is remarkable.
“The numbers in support for the war in Iraq are extremely low among Democrats and independents,” Zogby said. “This is a partisan war.”"
Tags: George Bush, Polls and Politics
At the time, I was a sales representative for Decca Records and traveled from Nashville to the Memphis branch warehouse every other week, arriving Thursday evening and returning to Nashville Friday afternoon.
After I had checked in and was freshening up to sample Memphis ‘after dark’, I turned on the TV. The program was interrupted to announce that Dr. Martin Luther King had been shot at the Lorraine Motel. Dr. King was in Memphis to support the striking city garbage workers, who were predominantly black.
I finished dressing and decided to abandon my plans for the evening and just walk a few blocks to a Luby’s Cafeteria for dinner, because I was unsure what the aftermath of the attack on Dr. King would be. As I was finishing my dinner, a hush fell over the other diners. One of the waitresses came over to my table and said the TV just reported that Dr. King was dead.
Quickly finishing my meal, I went straight back to the Travel Lodge to follow the events on TV. The Travel Lodge was a two story motel, built in a horse shoe pattern. All the rooms on the second floor faced out to the parking area in the center and were accessible by an exterior balcony that extended around all three sides. As my room was on the second floor, I could step out to the walk-around balcony and see what was going on in the street. The famous Peabody Hotel was directly across the street.
As my job was also calling on radio stations, I had established a good working relationship with Ralph Emory, a C & W disk jockey at WSM in Nashville, who had a night-time show heard all across the south and into the Midwest. Knowing Dr. King’s murder was a big story, I naively thought I could call WSM and report what was going on from Memphis. The phone lines were jammed and I never was able to get through.
For the rest of the evening I was glued to the TV set and frequently peering out into Union Avenue from the motel balcony.
The streets were unusually quiet. I don’t remember hearing sirens wailing or seeing squad cars going back and forth.
I do remember seeing the first National Guard 6 X 6 trucks pass by, fully loaded with soldiers sitting in the back, bayonets mounted on their rifles. This happened around 8 PM but the significance of the time didn’t register until years later.
Dr. King was shot at around 6 PM and only two hours later the National Guard was fully assembled and on duty in the streets! How did they respond so fast?
As the evening passed, reporters and photographers, from all over the country, began to arrive at the Travel Lodge. This motel’s clientele was usually business people on a budget and most guests were checked in by 6:30 or 7 PM. Not this night. Just about every 20 minutes a taxi would show up with two to four news people checking in to the motel. The motel was full before 11 PM.
The next morning as I got dressed, the TV announcer said police were looking for the assassin, who they believed was driving a Ford Mustang, and that road blocks were set up on the main highways and interstates leading out of Memphis in hopes of catching him. My visit the warehouse and return to Nashville became urgent now because I was driving a ’67 Mustang Fastback! My trip home was uneventful, and Nashville, along with many other cities instituted curfews that Friday night and continued through the weekend.
Although the events of that night were forever etched in my memory, Dr. King’s life will resonate within my psyche until my final day.
Tag = Martin Luther King
Sunday, January 15, 2006
What started as planning for the invasion of Iraq right after the World Trade Towers tragedy has now gotten us to where we are now rattling swords at Iran. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) said on CBS TV this morning, that military response was “on the table” as a possible future action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear warhead or bomb.
In his State of the Union address in January, 2002, President Bush uttered those now-famous words, “axis of evil”, to describe Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. In other words, these countries were the bad ones, our enemies. We know what happened later.
The US invaded Iraq as our leaders smugly asserted our military forces would be welcomed as liberators and the grateful Iraqi citizens would shower them with flowers and candy.
Almost three years later with more than 2,000 military men and women killed, and nearly 19,000 wounded, these bright men plan’s have left us with a debacle in Iraq best described as a low grade civil war. Make no mistake this is George Bush’s war.
But now, with our regular military forces strapped and our National Guard units at the breaking point, the administration is now seriously talking about attacking Iran! So we bomb Iran and completely convince 1.3 billion Muslims world-wide that the US is truly the great Satan. Thus, the administration makes us less safer than before 9/11 and ignites the middle east like we’ve never seen before.
On top of that, Hurricane Katrina proved that the government is no better prepared for a disaster of any origin than it was four years ago.
President Bush needs to quit “rattling the swords”, and try to get our country out of the jam for which he’s responsible. Let’s return to a reality based foreign policy. If we don’t, I don’t want to try to imagine what our country will be like after Bush’s reign ends.