Thursday, July 27, 2006

Price Gouging? Um, What Price Gouging?

I should write an, "Idiot's Guide To Republican Governance." This timeline is truly amazing!

January 1, 2001
The price of gas is $1.22 a gallon.

August 29, 2005
Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. Gas prices rise immediately .

April 26, 2006
After oil companies earn record first quarter profits, President Bush says,
"Americans understand by and large that the price of crude oil is going up and that [gas] prices are going up, but what they don't want and will not accept is manipulation of the market," Bush said. "And neither will I." He promises an investigation into price gouging allegations.

April 28, 2006
A mere 2 days after pledging to investigate price gouging allegations, President Bush says, there was "no evidence" of price-gouging of consumers. He also rejects calls by some lawmakers for a tax on oil company windfall profits.

July23, 2006
Gas prices reach over $3.00 gallon. The highest price in U.S. history.

July 28, 2006
Oil companies have incredible second quarter earnings.
• Exxon reports $10.36 billion in second quarter net income, a 36% increase.
• ConocoPhillips reports a 65 percent increase in profit for the second quarter.

February 1, 2009
George Bush is named to the Board of Directors of ExxonMobile-ChevronShellConico. Gas is now $9.00/gallon.

Get the point?

Write your congressional representatives and demand an investigation.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Question That Every American Should Ask

In a 1980 debate, then candidate Ronald Reagan asked America a question: Are you better off than you were four years ago? He maintained that the answer was no and, soon after, was swept into office. Four years later in a 1984 debate, he reframed the question: Is America better off now than it was four years ago? The answer this time was presumably yes, and he was re-elected in a landslide.

For the past five years, the Republican Party has controlled the Presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives. They are and have been the majority party. Since the Democrats can't override anything that the majority party really wants to do, it's fair to say that the record of the past five and half years belongs to the Republicans. If the United States is better off, the Republicans get to claim the credit. If not, they must bear the responsibility.

It's time for Democrats to frame this next election by taking a page from the Reagan playbook:

Is America Better Off Now, Than It Was Five Years Ago?

Let's see what the data suggests: (Hint: if it's in red, it's worse):


• On January 1, 2001 - The price of regular unleaded gasoline was $1.22/gallon.

• On July 23, 2006 - The price of regular unleaded gasoline had risen to $3.01/gallon.

Budget Management

• In 2000, the federal government had a budget surplus of $236,200,000,000.

• In 2005, the federal government had a budget deficit of $318,300,000,000.

War and Peace

• On January 1, 2001, the United States was engaged in no major conflicts. In the previous year, no US soldier had been killed by hostile action.

• On July 20, 2006, the United States was engaged in two conflicts (Afghanistan and Iraq). Since January 1, 2001,
2,882 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Economy - Unemployment

• On January 1, 2001 - The US unemployment rate was 3.7%

• On July 1, 2006 - The US unemployment rate was 4.7%

The Economy - Trade

• On December 31, 2000, the annual trade deficit was $436,103,000

• On December 31, 2000, the annual trade deficit was $767,475,000

So what do you think? Is America better off now than it was 5 years ago?

The answer should be a resounding NO and it's our job to help make the case. To that end, I invite, encourage and implore you to e-mail this information to anyone who you feel either a) doesn't have the facts or b) agrees, but needs statistical data to help make the case to others.

A lot of people know that things don't feel right in the United States, but may need help bringing it all into focus. That's where you come in! OK, you've had your pep talk, you've got your ammo, now get out there and fight!


Associated Press:


United States Census Bureau:

United States Congressional Budget Office:

United States Department of Defense:

United States Energy Information Administration:

Friday, July 21, 2006

George Bush: The Champion Of Life?

George Bush is the undisputed champion of life. No wait, that's not quite right. George Bush is the undisputed champion of potential life. For the first time in his Presidency, Mr. Bush exercised his constitutional right to veto a bill passed by Congress, when he struck down the embryonic stem cell research bill. This bill would have loosened restrictions on federal funding for research that scientists believe could lead to significant breakthroughs in the treatment of spinal cord injuries, cancer, burns, diabetes, strokes and alzheimer's.

A quick primer on stem cells.

Stem cells are a type of cell with the potential to turn into any other type of cell. This flexibility means that they could be used to repair just about anything that goes wrong in the body. While adults do produce stem cells, it is believed that they are less adaptable than the embryonic version. Mr. Bush's objection is that in order to get them, unused frozen embryos that are stored at fertility clinics must be destroyed. He cites that some of these embryos were 'adopted' by childless couples who were able to gestate them into children. Essentially, he believes that destroying the embryos is equivalent to destroying life. OK, I can't ding someone who puts a premium on life.

But let's examine the Bush record on the value of life...

o While Governor of Texas, Mr. Bush presided over the execution of 154 individuals including some that were alleged to be mentally retarded.

o He cares so much about life that he launched a war based on evidence that he likely knew was faulty. The result has been the death, of over 2,000 American soldiers, many who were not equipped with proper body armor, and a much greater number of civilians.

o President Bush values life so highly that when Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast, he launched an immediate emergency response that saved over 1,300 lives. No wait, he didn't.

In almost every situation, when given the opportunity to show that he holds life sacred, President Bush has failed!

Mr. Bush would have you believe that, someday, every frozen embryo will be gestated and adopted. That's just not the case. While I certainly support making these embryos available to people who want to have families and cannot, the truth is that the embryonic supply FAR exceeds the demand. As a result, many of these embryos end up being destroyed. So, rather than allow them to be used in research that might save millions of lives worldwide, the President would rather see them thrown away. It's another case where Mr. Bush shows that he just doesn't get it.

So here's the deal:

o I hope that President Bush never has to watch his mother Barbara get taken a piece at a time, the way so many families of Alzheimer's victims have (And I know, because I'm from one of those families).

o I hope that he never has to watch his wife Laura wither away from the ravages of cancer.

o I hope that neither of his daughters ever have a car accident that leaves them a quadriplegic because of a spinal cord injury.

I hope that none of these tragedies ever personally touch the President, his family, or anyone whom he loves. But if they did, maybe he'd understand why his veto not only fails to affirm life, but why it seems like a death sentence to so many people.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Has Bush Obstructed Justice?

The Associated Press reported yesterday, that U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez stated before Congress that President Bush personally blocked justice department officials from conducting an internal probe into allegations of warrantless wiretapping by his administration.

The Office of Professional Responsibility, a unit within the Justice Department, was tasked with the investigation. When questioned by Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who asked, ""It was highly classified, very important and many other lawyers had access. Why not OPR?", Gonzalez replied, "The president of the United States makes the decision." Later that day, Press Secretary, Tony Snow explained, "The president did not consider the Justice unit that functions as a legal ethics watchdog to be the 'proper venue.'"

Is he kidding? Who better THAN the unit of the Justice Department that functions as the legal ethics watchdog?

Isn't that the MOST proper venue to investigate alleged legal improprieties? Of course it is and the President knows it. There's just one small problem. If he lets them investigate, they are going to quickly discover that the law has been violated, repeatedly. So once again, Mr. Bush drapes the long veil of "national security" over the issue and expects that it will go unchallenged.

Republicans are well skilled at framing issues into digestable sound bytes for the public's consumption. One need only listen to the news this week and you will hear them beginning to refer to current world conflicts as the beginning of World War III (convenient in an election year). I think it is critical that those who stand in opposition to this President begin to do the same.

When the President of the United States prohibits the legally charged unit of the Justice Department from investigating his own alleged improprieties, it is plain and simple, OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE!

No one has called it that yet, but that's what it is. In the most cynical and Nixonian sense, President Bush is obstructing justice. And that in and of itself is a crime.

It's time for Congress to get off their asses and investigate!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why Is Karl Rove Still Employed By George Bush?

The truth on the Valerie Plame incident is slowly starting to come out, and while no formal charges have been filed against Karl Rove, journalist Robert Novak confirms that Rove was indeed one of his sources. On February 11, 2004, CNN quoted President Bush as saying, "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of." Even the conservative Fox News reports that Novak is not the first reporter to implicate Rove, which raises a question. Why is Karl Rove employed by the White House? Simple.

President Bush is splitting legal hairs, in a way that even Bill Clinton would have to admire.

While Mr. Clinton managed to muddy the law concerning the legal definition of sex, Mr. Bush is attempting to redefine what is considered treason. Since special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald announced that Rove won't be charged in the leak case, Mr. Bush can argue that technically, Rove has not "violated law." Whether Mr. Fitzgerald is helping Rove to skate, or setting him up to go after someone bigger, say the Vice President for example, remains to be seen.

It's the spirit of the law that matters here!

And it is now clear that Karl Rove violated that. By confirming Valarie Plame's identity as an undercover CIA operative, to Robert Novak and others in the media, the spirit of the law was violated and George Bush knows it. Members of an administration should be above reproach especially when dealing with issues of national security and Karl Rove failed that litmus test. By allowing him to remain as a member of his administration, so has Mr. Bush. This should be unacceptable to Americans of any political persuasion.

What you can do about it:

  • Call your Senators and Representatives. Ask them to publicly call for the President to terminate Karl Rove's employment within the administration. The number for the Congressional switchboard is: (202) 224-3121

  • E-mail your Senator or Representative and ask them to the same. Multiple contacts have a way of making an impression.

  • E-mail President Bush and demand that he restore integrity to the Executive Branch by terminating Mr. Rove.

  • After mid-term election repeat the first two steps and ask a (hopefully) Democratic majority in Congress to launch independent investigations into the Valerie Plame affair.
  • Monday, July 10, 2006

    Is It Any Wonder That It's Come To This?

    Reuters is reporting today that the Iraqi government is about to ask the United Nations to end immunity from local law for U.S. troops serving in Iraq. This comes on the heels of five soldiers being charged in a rape-murder case as well as, the killing of 24 people at Haditha and of course, the infamous abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. While it is unlikely, that the U.S. government would ever agree to submit to this request, it is a clear sign that the alliance between the U.S. and Iraqi governments is fraying.

    I want to be clear, there is no acceptable excuse for commiting acts of torture, rape or murder.

    But I will argue that these heinous acts are symptoms of a much bigger problem: Troops that are over-strained after multiple tours of duty and military "Stop Loss" programs designed to prevent attrition in the ranks, a reliance on Guardsmen who may not have been adequately prepared for this type of fighting, and no discernable exit strategy on the part of our leaders.

    The majority of troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are honourable, decent, people. Nevertheless, it is critical that every allegation of impropriety be fully investigated if the United States is to have any credibility in the eyes of the world, or even within our own borders. Perpetrators of these acts must face military justice. But it is critical that we investigate deeper, that we search our souls and ask the tough questions. Why are these things happening? What circumstances have contributed to them? How can we ensure that they will never happen again? And perhaps the most important question of all:

    When and how do we hold accountable our leaders, who created this situation in the first place?

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    35 Words That Can Still Change The World

    Today is the 4th of July, Independence Day here in the United States. It was on this day in Philadelphia, two hundred and thirty years ago, that a group of individuals made a bold declaration to the world. They wrote,

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    35 words.

    It was a radical notion, a notion that required many years of bloody fighting before the words could be transformed from page to action. And even then, there were significant imperfections along the way. Yet here we sit over two centuries later and those 35 words remain among our most cherished values.

    If I were to take a straw poll on just about any street in the country, I'm confident that most would agree that these 35 words are in many ways our lasting legacy to humankind. It's a legacy that I am proud to be associated with, if only by luck of birth.

    Now pretend for a moment that a place existed where:

    - Families were restricted by the State to having just one child.

    - The only churches one could attend without fear of imprisonment were those deemed as "patriotic churches."

    - Citizens could be detained and imprisoned for up to three years without charge.

    - Over 6,000,000 people existed in forced labour prison camps.

    - The government owned over $260 billion dollars of the U.S. debt, the largest of any foreign country.

    - They enjoyed a $200 trade SURPLUS with the United States.

    - Their infrastructure was such that they were quickly challenging the United States as the worlds largest consumer of oil.

    Oh, and one more thing. Imagine that this place is also a nuclear power with a very large arsenal.

    And now the reality check.

    Would you be shocked if I told you that such a place does exist? Or that the United States and most of us, probably including you, are helping to make it happen? I hope that you would be indignant, outraged and proclaim me a liar. Sadly, the last would not be true.

    All of these statements apply to the Peoples Republic of China.

    According to the CIA World Fact Book, China has an estimated population of
    1,313,973,713, which accounts for a little over 20% of all people on the planet earth (6,525,170,264). They hold a significant trade surplus with the United States and in turn own a substantial portion of our debt. Why is this a problem? Well, as the BBC put it, "Should China cut its US dollar holdings, this could drive up long-term yields on US bonds, which could in turn put pressure on interest rates." Translation: massive inflation. Our largest competitor for oil has the ability to significantly impact our economy to the negative. But you want to know something? That's the least of my cares. Because even if they did, we would still live in relative freedom.

    You should certainly be aware of the economic threat that China poses, but on this Independence Day, I want you to remember that over 20% of our fellow humans beings, in THIS ONE COUNTRY ALONE, do not share our freedoms.

    Search the internet and you will find reports about forced labor prison camps (condemned by Congress in 1997), about female babies being abandoned or allegations of forced abortions because of restrictive state imposed birth control measures. You'll read about torture and executions without fair trial, about the suppression of groups with peaceful religious and philosophical beiefs. Don't believe me? Search the term "Falun Gong."

    Will you sit idly by?

    I hope not. Here are some things that you can do:

    - Stop buying products that are made in China.

    - Let retailers know of your intent to do so.

    - Petition your Congressional representatives and ask them to tie China's access to
    U.S. markets to verifiable human rights improvements.

    - Participate in organizations such as Amnesty International, which work to promote human rights.

    Today, remember those 35 words:

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    On this Independence Day, you have the power to help ensure that they form not only the foundation of human rights in the United States, but that they become the bedrock on which our global society rests.