Archive for September, 2005

“THE HAMMER” INDICTED!!!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

We’ve always said Tom DeLay is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. We say now is the time to “put the Hammer Down.”–Editor

DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe - Yahoo! News

A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post.

DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay’s national political committee.

“I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today,” DeLay said.
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GOP congressional officials said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., will recommend that Rep. David Dreier of California step into those duties. Some of the duties may go to the GOP whip, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri. The Republican rank and file may meet as early as Wednesday night to act on Hastert’s recommendation.

The charge carries a potential two-year sentence, which forces DeLay to step down under House Republican rules.

“The defendants entered into an agreement with each other or with TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee) to make a political contribution in violation of the Texas election code,” says the four-page indictment. “The contribution was made directly to the Republican National Committee within 60 days of a general election.”

The indictment accused DeLay of a conspiracy to “knowingly make a political contribution” in violation of Texas law outlawing corporate contributions. It alleged that DeLay’s Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee accepted $155,000 from companies, including Sears Roebuck, and placed the money in an account.

The PAC then wrote a $190,000 check to an arm of the Republican National Committee and provided the committee a document with the names of Texas State House candidates and the amounts they were supposed to received in donations.

The indictment included a copy of the check.

The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury’s term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.

Kevin Madden, DeLay’s spokesman, dismissed the charge as politically motivated.

“This indictment is nothing more than prosecutorial retribution by a partisan Democrat,” Madden said, citing prosecutor Ronnie Earle, a Democrat.

“We regret the people of Texas will once again have their taxpayer dollars wasted on Ronnie Earle’s pursuit of headlines and political paybacks.”

The grand jury action is expected to have immediate consequences in the House, where DeLay is largely responsible for winning passage of the Republican legislative program. House Republican Party rules require leaders who are indicted to temporarily step aside from their leadership posts.

However, DeLay retains his seat representing Texas’ 22nd congressional district, suburbs southwest of Houston.

DeLay has denied committing any crime and accused the Democratic district attorney leading the investigation, Ronnie Earle, of pursuing the case for political motives.

Democrats have kept up a crescendo of criticism of DeLay’s ethics, citing three times last year that the House ethics committee admonished DeLay for his conduct.

Earlier, DeLay attorney Bill White told reporters, “It’s a skunky indictment if they have one.”

As a sign of loyalty to DeLay after the grand jury returned indictments against three of his associates, House Republicans last November repealed a rule requiring any of their leaders to step aside if indicted. The rule was reinstituted in January after lawmakers returned to Washington from the holidays fearing the repeal might create a backlash from voters.

DeLay, 58, also is the center of an ethics swirl in Washington. The 11-term congressman was admonished last year by the House ethics committee on three separate issues and is the center of a political storm this year over lobbyists paying his and other lawmakers’ tabs for expensive travel abroad.

Wednesday’s indictment stems from a plan DeLay helped set in motion in 2001 to help Republicans win control of the Texas House in the 2002 elections for the first time since Reconstruction.

A state political action committee he created, Texans for a Republican Majority, was indicted earlier this month on charges of accepting corporate contributions for use in state legislative races. Texas law prohibits corporate money from being used to advocate the election or defeat of candidates; it is allowed only for administrative expenses.

With GOP control of the Texas legislature, DeLay then engineered a redistricting plan that enabled the GOP take six Texas seats in the U.S. House away from Democrats ó including one lawmaker switching parties ó in 2004 and build its majority in Congress.

Franken, Dean to Attend INDN’s List Event

Monday, September 26th, 2005

(Oklahoma) - INDNís List, the only national organization working to identify, recruit, and train Native American candidates for political office, today announced that nationally known humorist and political commentator Al Franken will attend the first INDN Campaign Camp, to be held October 13 Ė 16 in Shakopee, MN.

Franken, whose political commentary show can be heard nationwide on Air America Radio, will be following DNC Chairman, Governor Howard Dean, for a star-studded day on Saturday, October 15. Members of the media are invited.

Franken is an Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer, Grammy-winning comedian, radio host, and bestselling author of Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations and other books. In 2003, he served as a Fellow with Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. He lives with his family in New York City.

INDNís List Founder and President Kalyn Free said ďIím delighted that Al Franken will be joining us. His unique wit and astute observations of national politics make him a wonderful addition to INDN Campaign Camp. Iím particularly thrilled that our students Ė future candidates and staff members for Native American candidates Ė will have the opportunity to interact with Mr. Franken and our other confirmed guests!Ē

Additional guests confirmed for this historic event include Governor Howard Dean, M.D., Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), and Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA).

For more information on Al Franken, visit his website at www.al-franken.com.

More information on INDNís List (and INDN Campaign Camp) is available at http://www.indnslist.org or by contacting their national headquarters at 918/583-6100.

Sen. Frist’s stock sale raises real questions

Sunday, September 25th, 2005

The Republican
Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bill Frist was elected to the United States Senate in 1994. The following year, the Tennessee Republican placed his stock holdings - including more than $10 million worth of stock in the family hospital chain - into a blind trust.

The reasoning? A senator couldn’t reasonably be expected to work on health care issues when he is sitting on - and controlling - millions of dollars in health care stock in a corporation founded and run by his family.

Five years ago, Frist, who is now the Senate majority leader, transferred the stock in the family business - HCA Inc. - into a new blind trust, a move that might have enabled him to learn of its value at that time. But the holdings were still in a blind trust, ostensibly out of sight and out of reach.

But now it has been learned that Frist in June ordered the sale of all his HCA stock - as well as his wife’s and children’s HCA holdings.

Just one month later, the stock hit the skids, losing fully 9 percent of its value after a disappointing second-quarter earnings report.

The timing of the stock sale, given that Frist’s brother Thomas Frist Jr. is chairman emeritus of the corporation and its largest stockholder, raises red flags. At the minimum.

The senator’s office says that he decided to sell the stock to remove any possible appearance of a conflict of interest. But that is precisely why the stock was placed into a blind trust in the first place.

Frist’s stock in the family business was sitting in a box and out of reach for a decade so that he could perform his duties in the Senate without regard for his own fortune. Frist was supposed to be able to focus on the health care needs of the citizens of his home state and of the nation without having to worry at the same time how HCA’s stock would be faring.

And then he ordered that the stock be sold.

Such an order would hardly seem to fit one’s normal understanding of the functionings of a blind trust. You cannot put your stock out of reach - except for when you feel like telling someone what to do with it. You can’t do that and say that your stock has been placed in a blind trust, anyway.

The timing of the stock sale raises questions that have got to be answered. And the fact that Frist could order it sold at all raises additional questions that the senator must address.

RELATED:
13 Members of Congress Cited for Ethics Violations; Mostly Republicans

Brownie’s Brother Livin’ Large

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

The crony who prospered
Joe Allbaugh was George W. Bush’s good ol’ boy in Texas. He hired his good friend Mike Brown to run FEMA. Now Brownie’s gone and Allbaugh is living large.

(You’ll need to get the free Salon day pass to view this article. It’s worth it.–Editor)

Most Americans on Iraq: We Have Lost

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Thursday indicated fewer than half of Americans believe the United States will win the Iraq war, and 55 percent of those surveyed said it should speed up withdrawal plans.

Only 21 percent said the United States definitely would win the war in Iraq, which began when a U.S.-led coalition invaded in 2003 to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Another 22 percent said they thought the United States probably would win.

Twenty percent of respondents said the United States was capable of winning in Iraq — but probably would not. And 34 percent said they considered the war unwinnable.
The survey of 818 adults was conducted Friday through Sunday and had a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The results followed others this week that found only 32 percent of those interviewed supported President Bush’s handling of the war, 63 percent supported a full or partial withdrawal and and 54 percent favored cutting spending on the conflict to pay for rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

With a large anti-war demonstration planned outside the White House this weekend, Bush said Thursday the United States can lose in Iraq only “if we lose our nerve and abandon the mission.”

“Some Americans want us to withdraw our troops so that we can escape the violence,” Bush said. “I recognize their good intentions, but their position is wrong. Withdrawing our troops would make the world more dangerous and make America less safe.”

More than 1,900 American troops have been killed since March 2003, most of them battling a persistent insurgency that followed the collapse of Saddam’s government.

With the number of deaths nearing 2,000, 55 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to see the United States intensify efforts to withdraw from Iraq, while 41 percent said they wanted no change in policy.

The increased support for an American withdrawal from Iraq contrasts with the more than two-thirds of those polled who said they believed U.S. troops would leave behind a chaotic situation — or even civil war.

Only 27 percent said they believed Iraq’s fledgling government would be able to maintain order after a U.S. withdrawal, while 68 percent said they believed chaos or civil war would result.

By comparison, as the U.S. death toll in Iraq neared 1,000 in August 2004, only 37 percent favored an expedited withdrawal, and 58 percent supported staying the course.

On Thursday, Bush tried again to portray Iraq as a front on the global war on terrorism that began with the attacks of September 11, 2001, saying a U.S. withdrawal would only embolden terrorists.

He said the United States would pull its troops out only when Iraqi forces were capable of taking control of their own country.

The number of people who said they understood what Americans are fighting for in Iraq has remained nearly steady in the past year.

Of those polled, 67 percent said they understood what the war was all about, and 33 percent said they did not.

The last time the question was asked, in October 2004, 70 percent said they understood what was at stake in the conflict while 28 percent said they did not.

Bush and other officials argued that the invasion was necessary to strip Iraq of chemical and biological weapons and efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.

U.S. inspectors later concluded Baghdad had disarmed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, as required by U.N. resolutions that ended the conflict, though it had concealed some weapons-related research from U.N. monitors.

The president and his allies now argue that U.S. troops are needed to foster the establishment of a democratic government in Iraq and keep the country from becoming a haven for terrorism.

Guinea Pigs

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

Published on Thursday, September 22, 2005 by the Guardian / UK
Hurricane Aid Used ‘To Test Out Rightwing Social Policies’
by Julian Borger

President Bush’s multi-billion dollar reconstruction plans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are being used as “a vast laboratory” for conservative social polices, administration critics claim.

The White House strategy involves the suspension of a series of regulations guaranteeing the going local wage and affirmative action for minorities, while offering tax incentives for businesses in the affected region.

Education aid for displaced children will include $500m (£276m) in vouchers for private schools, while a senior Republican has also proposed a new law permitting a wide-ranging waiver of environmental regulations.

The White House has argued that the deregulation measures are designed to disentangle the relief effort from federal red tape. But Democrats are furious at the proposals. They view them as an attempt to slip through unpopular policies under cover of the wave of sympathy for Katrina’s victims. “The plan they’re designing for the Gulf coast turns the region into a vast laboratory for rightwing ideological experiments,” said John Kerry, the party’s defeated 2004 presidential candidate.

Conservative commentators see the measures as an opportunity to reverse federal entitlement programmes dating back to Franklin Roosevelt’s that they argue ingrain poverty by encouraging dependency on the government. “The objection to these Bush proposals isn’t fiscal, but philosophical,” Rich Lowry, an editor on the National Review magazine, wrote. “They serve to undermine the principle of government dependency that underpins the contemporary welfare state, and to which liberals are utterly devoted.”

The focus of Democratic opposition is the White House decision to suspend the 1931 Davis-Bacon act, which requires firms working under government contract to pay locally “prevailing wages” to workers.

Critics argue that the law’s suspension will mostly benefit big corporations such as Dick Cheney’s former employer, Halliburton, at the expense of the local poor who need a decent wage more than ever.
(more…)

CJR on Undoing Darwin

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

Excerpt:

Now, history is repeating itself: intelligent-design proponents, whose movement is a descendant of the creation science movement of yore, are enjoying precisely the same kind of favorable media coverage in the run-up to another major evolution trial. This cyclical phenomenon carries with it an important lesson about the nature of political reporting when applied to scientific issues. In strategy-driven political coverage, reporters typically tout the claims of competing political camps without comment or knowledgeable analysis, leaving readers to fend for themselves.

Clinton Launches Withering Attack on Bush on Iraq, Katrina, Budget

Monday, September 19th, 2005

Published on Monday, September 19, 2005 by Agence France Presse

Former US president Bill Clinton sharply criticised George W. Bush for the Iraq War and the handling of Hurricane Katrina, and voiced alarm at the swelling US budget deficit.

Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors, Clinton said the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq “virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction.”

The Iraq war diverted US attention from the war on terrorism “and undermined the support that we might have had,” Clinton said in an interview with an ABC’s “This Week” programme.

Clinton said there had been a “heroic but so far unsuccessful” effort to put together an constitution that would be universally supported in Iraq.

The US strategy of trying to develop the Iraqi military and police so that they can cope without US support “I think is the best strategy. The problem is we may not have, in the short run, enough troops to do that,” said Clinton.

On Hurricane Katrina, Clinton faulted the authorities’ failure to evacuate New Orleans ahead of the storm’s strike on August 29.

People with cars were able to heed the evacuation order, but many of those who were poor, disabled or elderly were left behind.

“If we really wanted to do it right, we would have had lots of buses lined up to take them out,” Clinton.

He agreed that some responsibility for this lay with the local and state authorities, but pointed the finger, without naming him, at the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA boss Michael Brown quit in response to criticism of his handling of the Katrina disaster. He was viewed as a political appointee with no experience of disaster management or dealing with government officials.

“When James Lee Witt ran FEMA, because he had been both a local official and a federal official, he was always there early, and we always thought about that,” Clinton said, referring to FEMA’s head during his 1993-2001 presidency.

“But both of us came out of environments with a disproportionate number of poor people.”

On the US budget, Clinton warned that the federal deficit may be coming untenable, driven by foreign wars, the post-hurricane recovery programme and tax cuts that benefitted just the richest one percent of the US population, himself included.

“What Americans need to understand is that … every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts,” he said.

“We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else.”

Clinton added: “We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don’t think it makes any sense.”

The Katrina Administration

Monday, September 19th, 2005

JohnKerry.com - Senator John Kerry’s Speech at Brown University

Senator John Kerry’s Speech at Brown University
Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Providence, RI - I want to thank you for what the Brown community has done to help and comfort the many victims of Hurricane Katrina. This horrifying disaster has shown Americans at their best — and their government at its worst.

And that’s what I’ve come to talk with you about today. The incompetence of Katrina’s response is not reserved to a hurricane. There’s an enormous gap between Americans’ daily expectations and government’s daily performance. And the gap is growing between the enduring strength of the American people — their values, their spirit, their imagination, their ingenuity, and their willingness to serve and sacrifice — and the shocking weakness of the American government in contending with our country’s urgent challenges. On the Gulf Coast during the last two weeks, the depth and breadth of that gap has been exposed for all to see and we have to address it now before it is obscured again by hurricane force spin and deception.

Katrina stripped away any image of competence and exposed to all the true heart and nature of this administration. The truth is that for four and a half years, real life choices have been replaced by ideological agenda, substance replaced by spin, governance second place always to politics. Yes, they can run a good campaign — I can attest to that — but America needs more than a campaign. If 12 year-old Boy Scouts can be prepared, Americans have a right to expect the same from their 59 year-old President of the United States.

Katrina reminds us that too often the political contests of our time have been described like football games with color commentary: one team of consultants against another, red states against blue states, Democratic money against Republican money; a contest of height versus hair - sometimes. But the truth is democracy is not a game; we are living precious time each day in a different America than the one we can inhabit if we make different choices.

Today, more than ever, when the path taken last year and four years earlier takes us into a wilderness of missed opportunities — we need to keep defining the critical choices over and over, offering a direction not taken but still open in the future.

I know the President went on national television last week and accepted responsibility for Washington’s poor response to Katrina. That’s admirable. And it’s a first. As they say, the first step towards recovery is to get out of denial. But don’t hold your breath hoping acceptance of responsibility will become a habit for this administration. On the other hand, if they are up to another “accountability moment” they ought to start by admitting one or two of the countless mistakes in conceiving, “selling”, planning and executing their war of choice in Iraq.

I obviously don’t expect that to happen. And indeed, there’s every reason to believe the President finally acted on Katrina and admitted a mistake only because he was held accountable by the press, cornered by events, and compelled by the outrage of the American people, who with their own eyes could see a failure of leadership and its consequences.

Natural and human calamity stripped away the spin machine, creating a rare accountability moment, not just for the Bush administration, but for all of us to take stock of the direction of our country and do what we can to reverse it. That’s our job — to turn this moment from a frenzied expression of guilt into a national reversal of direction. Some try to minimize the moment by labeling it a “blame game” — but as Iíve said - this is no game and what is at stake is much larger than the incompetent and negligent response to Katrina.

This is about the broader pattern of incompetence and negligence that Katrina exposed, and beyond that, a truly systemic effort to distort and disable the people’s government, and devote it to the interests of the privileged and the powerful. It is about the betrayal of trust and abuse of power. And in all the often horrible and sometimes ennobling sights and sounds we’ve all witnessed over the last two weeks, there’s another sound just under the surface: the steady clucking of Administration chickens coming home to roost.

We wouldn’t be hearing that sound if the people in Washington running our government had cared to listen in the past.

They didn’t listen to the Army Corps of Engineers when they insisted the levees be reinforced.

They didn’t listen to the countless experts who warned this exact disaster scenario would happen.

They didn’t listen to years of urgent pleading by Louisianans about the consequences of wetlands erosion in the region, which exposed New Orleans and surrounding parishes to ever-greater wind damage and flooding in a hurricane.

They didn’t listen when a disaster simulation just last year showed that hundreds of thousands of people would be trapped and have no way to evacuate New Orleans.

They didn’t listen to those of us who have long argued that our insane dependence on oil as our principle energy source, and our refusal to invest in more efficient engines, left us one big supply disruption away from skyrocketing gas prices that would ravage family pocketbooks, stall our economy, bankrupt airlines, and leave us even more dependent on foreign countries with deep pockets of petroleum.

They didn’t listen when Katrina approached the Gulf and every newspaper in America warned this could be “The Big One” that Louisianans had long dreaded. They didn’t even abandon their vacations.

And the rush now to camouflage their misjudgments and inaction with money doesnít mean they are suddenly listening. It’s still politics as usual. The plan theyíre designing for the Gulf Coast turns the region into a vast laboratory for right wing ideological experiments. Theyíre already talking about private school vouchers, abandonment of environmental regulations, abolition of wage standards, subsidies for big industries - and believe it or not yet another big round of tax cuts for the wealthiest among us!

The administration is recycling all their failed policies and shipping them to Louisiana. After four years of ideological excess, these Washington Republicans have a bad hangover — and they can’t think of anything to offer the Gulf Coast but the hair of the dog that bit them.

And amazingly — or perhaps not given who weíre dealing with — this massive reconstruction project will be overseen not by a team of experienced city planners or developers, but according to the New York Times, by the Chief of Politics in the White House and Republican Party, none other than Karl Rove — barring of course that he is indicted for “outing” an undercover CIA intelligence officer.

Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn’t do. Michael Brown — or Brownie as the President so famously thanked him for doing a heck of a job - Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to slam dunk intelligence; what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad; what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy; what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning; what Tom Delay is to ethics; and what George Bush is to ďMission AccomplishedĒ and “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The bottom line is simple: The “we’ll do whatever it takes” administration doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done.

This is the Katrina administration.

It has consistently squandered time, tax dollars, political capital, and even risked American lives on sideshow adventures: A war of choice in Iraq against someone who had nothing to do with 9/11; a full scale presidential assault on Social Security when everyone knows the real crisis is in health care - Medicare and Medicaid. And that’s before you get to willful denial on global warming; avoidance on competitiveness; complicity in the loss and refusal of health care to millions.

Americans can and will help compensate for government’s incompetence with millions of acts of individual enterprise and charity, as Katrina has shown. But thatís not enough. We must ask tough questions: Will this generosity and compassion last in the absence of strong leadership? Will this Administration only ask for sacrifice in a time of crisis? Has dishonesty in politics degraded our national character to the point that we feel our dues have been paid as citizens with a one-time donation to the Red Cross?

Today, letís you and I acknowledge whatís really going on in this country. The truth is that this week, as a result of Katrina, many children languishing in shelters are getting vaccinations for the first time. Thousands of adults are seeing a doctor after going without a check-up for years. Illnesses lingering long before Katrina will be treated by a healthcare system that just weeks ago was indifferent, and will soon be indifferent again.

For the rest of the year this nation silently tolerates the injustice of 11 million children and over 30 million adults in desperate need of healthcare. We tolerate a chasm of race and class some would rather pretend does not exist. And ironically, right in the middle of this crisis the Administration quietly admitted that since they took office, six million of our fellow citizens have fallen into poverty. Thatís over ten times the evacuated population of New Orleans. Their plight is no less tragic - no less worthy of our compassion and attention. We must demand something simple and humane: healthcare for all those in need - in all years at all times.

This is the real test of Katrina. Will we be satisfied to only do the immediate: care for the victims and rebuild the city? Or will we be inspired to tackle the incompetence that left us so unprepared, and the societal injustice that left so many of the least fortunate waiting and praying on those rooftops?

Thatís the unmet challenge we have to face together. Katrina is the background of a new picture we must paint of America. For five years our nation’s leaders have painted a picture of America where ignoring the poor has no consequences; no nations are catching up to us; and no pensions are destroyed. Every criticism is rendered unpatriotic. And if you say ďWar on TerrorĒ enough times, Katrina never happens.

Well, Katrina did happen, and it washed away that coat of paint and revealed the true canvas of America with all its imperfections. Now, we must stop this Administration from again whitewashing the true state of our challenges. We have to paint our own picture - an honest picture with all the optimism we deserve - one that gives people a vision where no one is excluded or ignored. Where leaders are honest about the challenges we face as a nation, and never reserve compassion only for disasters.

Rarely has there been a moment more urgent for Americans to step up and define ourselves again. On the line is a fundamental choice. A choice between a view that says ďyouíre on your own,Ē ďgo it alone,Ē or ďevery man for himself.Ē Or a different view - a different philosophy - a different conviction of governance - a belief that says our great American challenge is one of shared endeavor and shared sacrifice.

Over the next weeks I will address some of these choices in detail - choices about national security, the war in Iraq, making our nation more competitive and committing to energy independence. But it boils down to this. I still believe Americaís destiny is to become a living testament to what free human beings can accomplish by acting in unity. Thatís easy to dismiss by those who seem to have forgotten we can do more together than just waging war.

But for those who still believe in the great tradition of Americans doing great things together, itís time we started acting like it. We can never compete with the go-it- alone crowd in appeals to selfishness. We canít afford to be pale imitations of the other side in playing the Ďwhatís in it for meí game. Instead, itís time we put our appeals where our hearts are - asking the American people to make our country as strong, prosperous, and big-hearted as we know we can be - every day. Itís time we framed every question - every issue — not in terms of whatís in it for Ďme,í but whatís in it for all of us?

And when you ask that simple question - whatís in it for all of us? - the direction not taken in America could not be more clear or compelling.

Instead of allowing a few oil companies to drill their way to windfall profits, it means an America that understands we canít drill our way to energy independence, we have to invent our way there together.

Instead of making a mockery of the words No Child Left Behind when China and India are graduating tens of thousands more engineers and PhDs than we are, it means an America where college education is affordable and accessible for every child willing to work for it.

Instead of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, it means an America that makes smart investments in your future like funding the science and research and development that will assure American technological leadership.

Instead of allowing lobbyists to rewrite our environmental laws, it means an America where lakes and rivers and streams are clean enough that when a family takes the kids fishing, itís actually safe to eat the fish they catch.

Instead of letting a few ideologues get in the way of progress that can make us a stronger and healthier society, it means an America where the biology students here today will do the groundbreaking stem cell research tomorrow.

And instead of stubbornly disregarding intelligence, using force prematurely and shoving our allies aside, it means an America that restores its leadership in the world. An America that meets its responsibility of creating a world where the plagues of our time and future times - from terror to disease to poverty to weapons of mass destruction to the unknown - are overcome by allies united in common cause, and proud to follow American leadership.

That is the direction not taken but still open to us in the future if we answer that simple question - Ďwhatís in it for all of us?í It comes down to the fact that the job of government is to prepare for your future - not ignore it. It should prepare to solve problems - not create them.

This Administration and the Republicans who control Congress give in to special interests and rob future generations. Real leadership stands up to special interests and sets the course for future generations. And the fact is we do face serious challenges as a nation, and if we donít address them now, we handicap your future. My generation risks failing its obligation of assuring you inherit a safer, stronger America. To turn this around, the greatest challenges must be the starting point. I hope Katrina gives us the courage to face them and the sense of urgency to beat them.

Thatís why the next few months are such a critical time. Youíll read about the Katrina investigations and fact-finding missions. Youíll get constant updates on the progress rebuilding New Orleans and new funding for FEMA. Washington becomes a very efficient town once voters start paying attention.

But we canít let political maneuvering around the current crisis distract people from the gathering, hidden crises - like energy, environment, poverty, healthcare and innovation - that present the greatest threats to our nationís competitiveness and character. The effort to rebuild New Orleans cannot obscure the need to also rebuild our country.

So realistically, Iím sure youíre wondering: How do I change all this? What can I do? The answer is simple: you have to make your issues the voting issues of this nation. Youíre not the first generation to face this challenge.

I remember when you couldnít even mention environmental issues without a snicker. But then in the 70ís people got tired of seeing the Cuyahoga River catch on fire from all the chemicals. So one day millions of Americans marched. Politicians had no choice but to take notice. Twelve Congressmen were dubbed the Dirty Dozen, and soon after seven were kicked out of office. The floodgates were opened. We got the Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water. We created the EPA. The quality of life improved because concerned citizens made their issues matter in elections.

You are citizens in the greatest democracy in the world. Moments like Katrina are so difficult - so painful - but they help you define your service to your fellow citizens. Iíll never forget as a teenager standing in a field in October of 1957 watching the first man made spacecraft streak across the night sky. The conquest, of course, was Soviet - and while not everyone got to see the unmanned craft pass overhead at 18,000 miles per hour that night - before long every American knew the name Sputnik. We knew we had been caught unprepared.

In the uncertain years thereafter, President Kennedy challenged Americans to act on that instinct. He said, “This is a great country, but I think it could be a greater country…the question we have to decide as Americans,” he said, is “are we doing enough today?”

Today, every American knows the name Katrina — and once again we know our government was undeniably unprepared, even as Americans have shown their willingness to sacrifice to make up for it.

But in these uncertain weeks of Katrina’s aftermath, we must ask ourselves not just whether a great country can be made greater — the sacrifice and generosity of Americans these last weeks answered that question with a resounding yes.

No, our challenge is greater - itís to speak out so loudly that Washington has no choice but to make choices worthy of this great country - choices worthy of the sacrifice of our neighbors in the Gulf Coast and our troops all around the world.

What’s in it for all of us? Nothing less than the character of our country - and your future.

BUSH’S NEPHEW ARRESTED

Saturday, September 17th, 2005

Seems young John likes to brawl when he drinks. Think he’ll get a Presidential Pardon?

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It’s a “private family matter,” so don’t expect to hear much more on this Bush brat.

RFK Assails NeoCons, Bush “Stealth Attack”

Friday, September 16th, 2005

Published on Friday, September 16, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Those of Us Who Know That Americaís Worth Fighting for Have to Take It Back Now from Those Who Donít
by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr
Speech delivered at the Sierra Summit 2005
San Francisco, California
September 10, 2005

I want to tell you how proud I am to accept the William O. Douglas Award.

Two of my most poignant memories as a child involved Justice Douglas. One of them was when I was 11 years old I did a 20 mile hike with my little brother David and with Justice Douglas and my father, which was a bird watching hike on the C & O Canal which he played a critical role in protecting. We started at four oíclock in the morning and walked all day. Then I did a 10 day pack trip with him. He took my whole family up to Olympic Range and the San Juan Peninsula and went camping for almost two weeks when I was eight years old.

Justice Douglas had a very strong relationship with my family. My grandfather brought Justice Douglas into public life and gave him his first job at the SEC as his deputy and then got Franklin Roosevelt to appoint him to run the SEC and played a critical role in getting him appointed as a justice of the Supreme Court. He said that his relationship to my grandfather was a father son relationship. When my father was 18 years old Justice Douglas took him for a walking tour of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, all the Asian Soviet Republics. They were the first Westerners to enter Soviet Asia after the 1917 revolution and they had an extraordinary trip and Justice Douglas wrote a book about it.

He had a very, very close relationship with my family and as an attorney the case that was the most important case, he was our greatest environmental jurist and the most important case was Sierra Club vs. Morton where he actually said that he believed the trees should have standing to sue [applause]. And there is nobody in American history than I more admire than him. What he understood which is what I think more and more people are understanding is that protecting the environment is not about protecting the fishes and the birds for their own sake but itís about recognizing that nature is the infrastructure of our communities and that if we want to meet our obligation as a generation, as a civilization, as a nation which is to create communities for our children that provide them with the same opportunities for dignity and enrichment and good health.

As the communities that our parents gave us, weíve got to start by protecting our environmental infrastructure, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the public lands, the fisheries, the wildlife, the public areas that connect us to our past, that connect us to our history, that provide context to our communities that are the source ultimately of our values and virtues and character as a people. Over the past 22 years as an environmental advocate, Iíve been disciplined about being non-partisan and bipartisan in my approach to these issues. I donít think there is any such thing as Republican children or Democratic children.

I think the worst thing that could happen to the environment is it becomes the province of a single political party. It was mentioned that I have a book out there that is very critical of this president and thatís true but itís not a partisan book. I didnít write that book because Iím a Democrat and heís a Republican. If he were a Democrat, I would have written the same book. Iím not objecting to him because of his political party and Iíve worked for Republicans if theyíre good on the environment and democrats on the same level but you canít talk honestly about the environment in any context today without speaking critically of this president. This is the worst [applause].

This is the worst environmental president weíve had in American history.
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9/11 And The Sport of God

Friday, September 16th, 2005

Published on Friday, September 9, 2005 by CommonDreams.org

by Bill Moyers

This article is adapted from Bill Moyer’s address this week at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where Judith and Bill Moyers received the seminary’s highest award, the Union Medal, for their contributions to faith and reason in America.

At the Central Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas, where I was baptized in the faith, we believed in a free church in a free state. I still do.

My spiritual forbears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others. “Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils,” thundered the dissenter Roger Williams as he was banished from Massachusetts for denying Puritan authority over his conscience. Baptists there were a “pitiful negligible minority” but they were agitators for freedom and therefore denounced as “incendiaries of the commonwealth” for holding to their belief in that great democracy of faith - the priesthood of all believers. For refusing to pay tribute to the state religion they were fined, flogged, and exiled. In 1651 the Baptist Obadiah Holmes was given 30 stripes with a three-corded whip after he violated the law and took forbidden communion with another Baptist in Lynn, Massachusetts. His friends offered to pay his fine for his release but he refused. They offered him strong drink to anesthetize the pain of the flogging. Again he refused. It is the love of liberty, he said, “that must free the soul.”
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