Monday, September 19, 2005

Calling the Democrats on their courage

Some would cast the Democrats as cowards at the poker table of politics. This is the conventional analysis, but I am afraid it does not accord with the facts. As an example, in the case of the war on Iraq, fully 60% of the American people want the U.S. to pull out some or all of the troops. That is one heck of a base on which to build a movement and a party. And yet the Dems, in the person of John Kerry, Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and others, are calling for "staying the course" and even sending more troops.

This cannot be accounted for by "cowardice" but rather by the fact that the Dems are beholden to the same special interests as the Republicans: the oil tycoons, the barons of the military-industrial complex and those that thrive on empire, from the major banks to Bechtel and Halliburton. Take, for example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is for "staying the course." Antiwar sentiment is solid in California, yet she refuses to embrace it even though it would strengthen, not weaken, her. No, the Democrats are simply the other war party. And in defying their constituencies that are overwhelmingly antiwar, they are in fact quite courageous.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Help for Rehnquist's daughter

Can someone please be on the lookout for a job for Rehnquist's daughter? She was appointed by Bush to a managerial post in government for which she was supremely unqualified following Rehnquist's favorable vote in State of Florida vs. Bush. Word on the street has it that Bush is going to dump her now that her dad can't do anything more for him.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Little Hitlers

Lifeboats left the Titanic half-empty, as little Hitlers in the form of ship's personnel actively prevented passengers from access to lifeboats. The same scene of horror is being repeated today as Federal officials actively bar rescue to New Orleans flood victims. You can listen to reports from the scene (see Horror Show at . Here is a statement fromJefferson Parish President, On Timmeh (Jeffersonis ajacent to Orleans Parish):

Sir, they were told like me. Every single day. The cavalry is coming. On the federal level. The cavalry is coming. The cavalry is coming. The cavalry is coming. I have just begun to hear the hooves of the cavalry. The cavalry is still not here yet, but I have begun to hear the hooves and we're almost a week out.

Three quick examples. We had Wal-mart deliver three trucks of water. Trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back, said we didn't need them. This was a week go. We had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a coast guard vessel docked in my parish. The coast guard said come get the fuel right way. When we got there with our trucks, they got a word, FEMA says don't give you the fuel. Yesterday, yesterday, FEMA comes in and cuts all our emergency communications lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in. he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards said no one is getting near these lines.


The guy who runs this building I'm in. Emergency management. He's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in a St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming. Son? Is somebody coming? "And he said yeah. Mama. Somebody's coming to get you.. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday. And she drowned Friday night. And she drowned Friday night. Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The Secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For god's sakes, just shut up and send us somebody.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Eyewitness in New Orleans

Walking among exhausted, shocked and worried refugees, many of whom have lost everything, I got my first close-up look at the devastating impact of Katrina. In this grim and teeming way station, the nation's incomprehensibly slow-footed rescue effort struck me as all the more staggering.

In a major city in the United States of America, it took days for food and medical supplies to be delivered, for guard troops to be brought in and for sick and elderly people to be rescued from rooftops.

Bodies lay in streets, floated in rivers, piled up at morgues in the Gulf states, and nobody seemed to know who was in charge of rescue efforts.

As lives hung in the balance, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert all but suggested that New Orleans should be bulldozed because of its precarious geography.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday on national radio that he was unaware of the chaos and suffering at the sweltering convention center, where thousands lived in unspeakable filth.

All of this is somewhat less surprising when you consider that it was the president who set the tone for so casual a response to death, a president more intent on saving face in Iraq than saving lives in the United States.

President Bush, who last year slashed an Army Corps of Engineers request for flood protection in New Orleans, waited four days to visit one of the deadliest disasters in American history.

When Bush finally arrived in the city where levees could have been bolstered with a few weeks' worth of the cost of the war in Iraq, he told the nation he'd had lots of fun in New Orleans in his day. He said he was satisfied with the hurricane response but not the results — decipher if you can — and then he boarded Air Force One and flew home without visiting the sick and suffering at an airport triage center.

Why the quick exit? There is work to be done back in Washington, where the agenda includes another round of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and gigantic cuts in benefits to the poor, many of whom we saw in the black neighborhoods of New Orleans for several days running, clinging to life and waiting for someone to throw them a line.

Steve Lopez

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Don’t Blame Bush

Don’t blame Bush for the tardy and inadequate response of Federal authorities to Hurricane Katrina. In contrast to the 9/11 terrorist attack for which Bush had several months of advance warning, Katrina came as a total surprise, more so, as in contrast to most Texas ranchers, Bush has little or no interest in the weather.

While Bush's response is often unfavorably compared with his actions following 9/11, he was as inadequate then as now. A promise to confiscate the funds of those who’d financed the terrorists was abandoned once Bush learned the monies came from his campaign backers in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, though the lack of a central computer kept authorities from tracking the activities of the terrorists as they moved freely about the country, the INS (now a minor branch of Homeland Security) still lacks that computer today.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Let’s Tax (wisely) and Spend (wisely)

Our nation, already on the brink of bankruptcy as a result of our engagement in unnecesary foreign wars has been pushed over the edge by foreseeable, but unplanned for natural disasters. New Orleans was built below water level, over-built California is perched atop large-scale faults in the earth, and much of the Midwest lies along tornado alleys created by the Interstate Highway System.

We need to tax wisely and spend wisely. The first source of tax revenue for the States should be gasoline taxes. Every freshman economics student knows the theory of supply and demand. Raise the price and demand drops. Alas, the supply and demand curve for gasoline is relatively inelastic. The price of gasoline can be raised again and again without demand being affected. But there is a limiting price at which consumers will, finally, begin to balk. Oil companies have raised their prices again and again searching for that limit. To date, all the profits have gone to the oil companies. By adding a dollar or more in tax to each gallon of gasoline, we will arrive at that limit sooner than expected, with the happy result that all the profits along the way will go back to us the taxpayers.

The second major source of revenue will be estate taxes. This country was founded two hundred plus years ago on the theory that inherited wealth didn’t mean diddlysquat, that the right to the pursuit of happiness would be open to all regardless of birth. Acting within our democratic principles, the States should impose a tax of 50% on all estates in excess of $2 million and of 90% on all estates in excess of $5 million. Bill Gates is entitled to all the results of his hard work and good judgment; his kid isn’t.

The Soviet Union fell apart when it became evident that the sons and daughters of its dedicated if ruthless leaders had no taste for work (though plenty for cocaine and fast cars). Don’t let this happen here.

The third source of revenue is based on a proposal by Abraham Lincoln when he found himself engaged in a war he did not want. Let those who profit most from a country be the ones to pay to preserve it. And the President asked Congress to impose a graduated income tax. Let him do so once again.

The rich will flee the country will they? Right. Just as earth quakes and mudslides have forced so many executives to move from California.

Which reminds me. Let a dollar-for-dollar assessment be levied against any and all attempts by American residents to make deposits in offshore accounts. Let a two-dollar per dollar assessment be made against any American business that raises prices during a natural catastrophe. Let a 90% tax be levied on all profits from sales to the Department of Defense or its contractors.

Now, how do we spend this revenue?

1. Rescue efforts.

2. Housing for the homeless and those without funds.

3. Rebuilding water supplies and sewage lines nationwide. The allocation of monies thereof to be determined on the basis of population, made locally by individual Congressmen, and audited by the General Accounting Office.

4. To local police departments for training and additional personnel.

5. For education to replace the monies slashed by “The No-Child Left Behind” Act.

6. To hire meat and agricultural product inspectors.

7. On computer equipment for the immigration and naturalization service so they may track visitors, temporary residents, and potential terrorists.

8. On increased personnel for the border patrol so they may prevent illegal immigration.

9. On increased personnel for the immigration and naturalization service so they may track down and deport illegal immigrants who’ve made it past the border patrol. (This could include the payment of bounties to local police departments for turning over illegals to the INS.)

Bring home troops to repair flood damage

Let's bring our troops home from Iraq and put them to work on Domestic Oil production. To get Republicans behind this, all cost to be borne as before by American tax payers, and all profits to go to Oil Companies.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Congratulations George W

Under former Governor Bush, the proportion of Americans living in poverty has risen almost to the level reached under the previous Bush administration, while the proportion without medical insurance has acheived an all-time high of 45.8% By cutting the funds available for education, George has made certain that any reduction in these levels will be extremely unlikely. Also, on the plus side, record profits have been made from Bush's war as witnessed by dramatic increases in bank deposits in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

What would you say if you met face to face with President Bush?

4 out of 10 would ask the President to get out of Iraq, 3 out of 10 would ask him to bring the war to an end by sending more troups, and 30% would ask for a federal ban on pre-empting soaps during prime time.