Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Sitting here waiting for the New Year and thinking back over the Old Year. It has been one of incredible highs and extreme lows.

As a country we have elected a new president, several new senators and new members of congress and governors. Plus other officials on state and local levels.

There have been deaths of every spectrum, from the mundane to people we consider important. Way too many for me to try to remember off the top of my head and no way am I even going to consider it..I would forget someone for sure and then feel bad forever. Suffice it to say we lost some really great people this year, some expected, some not, some greater than others, maybe some I thought were great, maybe some you thought were great, but they all will be missed by someone.

We have had a terrible financial year this year, between the stock market crashes, the home mortgage crisis, banks failing, businesses closing, people out of work. Banks aren't loaning money for anything, so people can't buy anything, that makes it worse. Then our government decided they had to do something to try to help, and I think they made it worse. $700 Billion and still no one was loaning any money to anyone. Sometimes I wonder if that wasn't their plan all along.

Then the Big 3 were humiliated by congress when they had to ask for a loan. Of course that's what our government was supposed to have fixed before but as I said what they did didn't work. So, they left, came back with a plan, and actually asked for less money, Ford dropped out of the loan and they were humiliated again even worse, and as Paul Krugman called them, the Nissan Senators turned them down. Finally, Pres. Bush agreed to give them money from the TARP and they are hoping to make themselves workable again.

I guess the best part of the year for most people has to be the election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden as President and Vice President. That is one of the best for me.

On a personal note, my highs for the year...moving back to I am closer to my family. My low for the year...losing my dad.

So, for me.. I am ready to close out 2008 and ring in 2009. However 2009 won't really start for me and so many others until January 20th. That is the day of our NEW YEAR.

Rachel Maddow and Richard Engel Monday discussion of the Middle East Conflict.

This is the discussion Rachel and Richard had Monday night. It will help explain how it all started. As I said in my post before, they are both very smart. I can't explain it, but they know what they are talking about and can do a better job than anyone I know of.

Here is the video:

Day 5 of the Israeli/Gaza Conflict with no resolution in sight.

Day 5 is here. Talks of a cease fire were around last night but nothing came of them. They were even having a press conference through Twitter. How funny is that. Speaking in 140 characters. That's harder than you might think if you haven't tried it.

I am sharing a video clip of Rachel Maddow and Richard Engel talking about the conflict. Rachel is one of the smartest people on the TeeVee machine. I also have a lot of respect for Richard. He is one of the few reporters that really does get his hands dirty in the business of reporting on wars and conflicts. He knows what he is talking about when it comes to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.

So, enjoy:

The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes

The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes
[Please go to and sign the petition!]

With the recent admissions by Vice President Cheney and the release of the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on detainee treatment, what we have known in the blogosphere for years has now....finally....made it into the mainstream. The Bush Administration planned, developed and carried out an organized torture program stretching from Gitmo to Iraq, Afghanistan and secret prisons around the world.

Despite their protestations and attempts to cover themselves with highly questionable legal opinions, this was and is a War Crime. Their politicization and corruption of the Department of Justice has stymied any investigation and left all efforts at accountability and justice to the new Obama Administrations DOJ, and specifically to AG Designate Holder.

Now, even the New York Times is....again, finally...calling for a Special Prosecutor to investigate these crimes.

However, as we also know well in the Blogosphere, this is far more than an issue of crime, punishment and justice as it should be. It is a political issue. A 'hot potato' political issue considering that any and all attempts at investigation and prosecution will undoubtedly (and erroneously) be described by the Republicans, the Right Wing press and pundits, and even some (complicit?) Democrats as a 'partisan witch hunt' and as 'criminalizing politics.' in other words, there are huge political costs at stake here. It would be much, much easier to 'move on' or 'not play the blame game' or point fingers to the past.'

The Obama Administration will face incredible pressure to sweep these War Crimes under the rug of history. We in the Blogosphere need to provide the counter-pressure. We do that by making our voices heard, and one way to do that is by each and everyone of us, the thousands if not millions of blog readers, adding our names to a petition. The petition will ultimately be submitted to AG Holder, as well as to However it can make a great impact on the 'public conversation' just by being everywhere in the Blogosphere as well.


Petition Badge
Get Badge

To that end, Docudharma and have teamed up to create, host, and distribute the following petition. The petition calls for Attorney General Designate Holder to, immediately upon being confirmed, appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all officials of the Bush Administration for Torture and War Crimes.

The petition:

Dear Attorney General Designate Holder,

We the undersigned citizens of the United States hereby formally petition you to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes.

These crimes are being euphemistically referred to as "abusive interrogation techniques" by such respected figures as Senator John McCain. These are euphemisms for torture. Torture is a War Crime. Waterboarding is a War Crime. The CIA has admitted waterboarding detainees. Recently, Vice President Cheney has brazenly admitted authorizing the program that lead to waterboarding, other forms of torture too numerous to list, and ultimately, the deaths by homicide of detainees.

As Major General Antonio Taguba, the Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison has stated:

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

The Washington Post recently summarized the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on detainee treatment thusly:

A bipartisan panel of senators has concluded that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the harsh treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and that their decisions led to more serious abuses in Iraq and elsewhere.

We the undersigned citizens demand a full and thorough investigation immediately upon your taking office. This investigation should be pursued no matter where it may lead and no matter what the political implications may be. To this end, we remind you that you work not on behalf of or for the President or the Congress, but for the People of the United States of America and for Justice itself.

The United States is a representative democracy. The actions of our government officials are done in the name of its citizens. War Crimes have been committed in our name. Torture has been done in our name. The only way to clear our name of War Crimes is to repudiate them through the aggressive prosecution of each and every person involved to the full extent of the law through the appointment of a Special Prosecutor.


We are urging everyone in the Blogosphere and beyond to get involved in this project...not just to sign the petition, but also to write diaries and blog posts in support of the effort. And also to display the linked badge (created by Edger) in your posts or on your sites. The easy to embed code for posting the badge can be found here.

Please feel free to contact us at for more information or any technical assistance you may need.

If you wish to post this essay, or just the petition, on any site or your own blog, please mail us at and we will send you the entire essay, complete with HTML code, to post wherever you wish. Please feel free to edit, within the parameters of keeping the original spirit and intent. We enthusiastically give full permission for such use!

[And of course......Please go to and sign the petition!]

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nowhere to run, Nowhere to hide.

Video of our Military

This is something I found on another site. It is disturbing to say the least. What it says about some of our military, our young people, and our leaders of the last 8 years is appalling. Because I think you have to lay the blame there. At the top. I just am disgusted by this. I am at a loss for words. And that really never happens. Here is the video, you watch it, see what you think of it.

2008's Most Laughable Political Antics

In a year when everyone was looking for a bailout, politicians did more for political comedy than any other industry. We had governors gone rogue, reverends gone wild, shoe-throwers, imaginary snipers and, of course, everyone's favorite mavericky, Prada-wearing hockey mom. As a salute to those who made this the funniest year since, well, last year, here's a look back at 2008's most memorable feats and foibles.

Worst photo op: Sarah Palin's turkey pardoning fiasco -- a.k.a. "wattlegate" -- in which she pardoned a turkey at a farm in Wasilla, and then gave an interview while other turkeys were shoved into a cone of death and slaughtered in the background. As David Letterman joked, she can see Russia, but she can't see what's going on five feet behind her.

Least likely to be invited for a sleepover in the Obama White House: Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was caught on an open mic talking about pitching Obama's voice an octave higher, in a manner of speaking. Jackson was taking offense at Obama's suggestion that African-Americans needed to take more responsibility for things like fatherhood and being responsible husbands. To which Jay Leno quipped, "Jesse thought it was insulting, not only to him, but to his former mistress and their love child."

Best typo: In a story about potential vice presidential picks, the AP referred to Joe Lieberman as "the Democratic vice presidential prick in 2000."

Shortest fuse: John's McCain's brother, Joe McCain, who called 911 to complain about being stuck in traffic. When the dispatcher asked if that was seriously why he was calling an emergency hotline, Joe the Hothead cursed him out and hung up. We might have never known about the incident, except when the dispatcher called the cell phone back, he got this message: "Hi, this is Joe McCain. I can't take this message now because I am involved in a very important family political project." And to think, he came within 8.5 million votes of becoming the next Roger Clinton.

Worst exit strategy: John Edwards, who, upon being confronted by a National Enquirer reporter at the Beverly Hills Hilton after paying a late-night visit to his former mistress and her child, did what any self-respecting ex-Senator and presidential aspirant with nothing to hide would do. He fled into a bathroom and tried to hold the door shut. Edwards later admitted to the affair, but denied fathering her child. Or, as the humor site Fark reported it: "John Edwards: Billie Jean IS my lover, but the kid is not my son."

Best moment of Palinfreude: The prank call Palin received from a Canadian comedy duo, who convinced her she was talking to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. Palin didn't pick up on any of the hints that the conversation was a joke, even when the faux Frenchman said, "From my 'ouse, I can see Belgium," or when he complimented her on the documentary about her life, Hustler's "Nailin' Palin." "Ohh, good, thank you, yes," she replied.

Worst attempt to woo the Fox News demographic: Barack Obama, who was heard at a San Francisco fund-raiser saying that small-town voters are "bitter" and "cling to guns or religion." The remark was so offensive to armed churchgoers, they didn't know whether to turn the other cheek or lock and load.

Most notorious member of the Hypocrites' V.I.P. Club: Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York, who rose to power as a sanctimonious crusader against ethics violations and corruption, but didn't let that get in the way of his taste for high-priced hookers. As Attorney General, Spitzer had famously busted prostitution rings, apparently so he could keep them all for himself. Spitzer was forced to resign after being outed as Client No. 9 at the Emperor's V.I.P. Club. Jay Leno was confused: "He's the governor -- who were the eight guys in front of him? You'd think as governor, you'd at least get to go first."

Worst con artist: Joe the Plumber, who John McCain called his "role model," even though it turned out he didn't have a plumber's license, was unemployed, had cheated on his taxes, and his name wasn't even Joe. As Jimmy Kimmel put it, "He's the Sarah Palin of plumbing."

Best reflexes: President Bush, who dodged two shoes hurled at him by an Iraqi journalist with a dexterity that conjured comparisons to Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. Although, as David Letterman noted, "Too bad he didn't react that way with bin Laden or Katrina, bin Laden or the mortgage crisis, bin Laden or Afghanistan, bin Laden or the Lehman Brothers".

Most courageous under imaginary fire: Hillary Clinton, whose account of dodging sniper fire after landing in Bosnia was debunked when video footage showed her being greeted on the tarmac not by gun shots, but by a young girl's poetry reading. "If only she had channeled that active fantasy world into her marriage," quipped Bill Maher.

Biggest wardrobe malfunction: Palin's $150,000 shopping spree, for which she was reimbursed with an endless barrage of jokes, like this one from Letterman: "The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick, Prada shoes, a Gucci handbag, and a few $3,000 suits."

Biggest talking-point malfunction: Obama's run-in with Joe the Plumber, in which he gave a shout-out to Karl Marx by saying, "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." Off in the distance, his Teleprompter wept.

Best use of expletives: Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, who, while allegedly trying to sell Obama's Senate seat, was recorded saying, "I've got this thing and it's [bleeping] golden," "I'm just not giving it up for [bleeping] nothing," and "Give this [bleep] Obama his senator? [Bleep] him. For nothing. [Bleep] him.'" Better still, a day before his arrest, the Governor invited authorities to tape his phone calls, huffing, "I can tell you that whatever I say is always lawful." Not to mention bleeping insane.

Best use of a Viking Grill, a vibrating Shiatsu massage lounger, and $250,000 in other gifts: Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who became the nation's highest-ranking convicted felon after lying on Senate financial disclosure forms. Naturally, Stevens received a 56-second-long standing ovation after delivering his farewell speech to the Senate, which, as Rachel Maddow of MSNBC noted, worked out to "eight seconds of heartfelt standing applause for each of his felony convictions."

Most brutal Palin insult: It was humiliating enough when McCain aides called Palin a "diva" and a "whack job," while accusing her of "going rogue," throwing temper tantrums, and not knowing that Africa was a continent. But the most devastating sound bite came from a McCain aide who described her shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast."

Best attempt to win imaginary delegates: Barack Obama, who said at an Oregon campaign stop, "I've now been in 57 states -- I think one left to go."

Best train wreck: The Sarah Palin-Katie Couric interview, which featured one laughable gaffe after the next, including Palin's failure to think of any Supreme Court decisions other than Roe v. Wade ...

... her failure to name a single newspaper or magazine she reads other than "all of 'em, any of 'em" ...

... and her claim to foreign policy expertise because Vladimir Putin likes to rear his head and fly over Alaskan airspace. It teetered on such self-parody that all Tina Fey had to do on Saturday Night Live was repeat parts of Palin's answers verbatim, gosh darnit, and also there too, you betcha!

Worst campaign surrogate: Bill Clinton, who had to be muzzled during the Democratic primaries after playing the race card and the patriot card against Obama, growling and snapping at reporters, and saying unfortunate things like, "The country is groaning and moaning and screaming for change." As Jay Leno joked, like a lot of women in Washington, Hillary soon realized she had slept with Bill Clinton for nothing.

Cheapest campaign stunt: John McCain, who "suspended" his campaign to go save the economy, said the presidential debate had to be canceled, flew to Washington, screwed up the bailout deal, then un-suspended his campaign and flew to the debate, even though there was no deal. "Usually when a 72-year-old man acts this way, this is when the kids start calling nursing homes," quipped Bill Maher.

Best smackdown following a cheap campaign stunt: When McCain told Letterman he was canceling his appearance on the show because he had to fly to Washington, and then showed up instead for an interview with Katie Couric, Letterman mocked him mercilessly. "Hey John!" Letterman shouted as he aired the live CBS feed of the interview for his audience. "I've got a question: You need a lift to the airport?" It got even uglier for McCain, with Letterman saying: "This is not the way a tested hero behaves. Somebody's putting something in his Metamucil"

Least likely to prevail at a sanity hearing: Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who burned up YouTube with his fiery rants imploring God to damn America for perpetrating genocide against chickens that came home to roost on 9/11 (or something like that). Despite being widely disparaged as a crackpot, Wright said he received over a million emails and phone calls telling him to keep on speaking out -- "all of them from Hillary Clinton," joked Jay Leno.

Creepiest Palin crush: Rich Lowry, National Review editor, who reacted to Palin's performance in the vice presidential debate thusly: "I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, 'Hey, I think she just winked at me.' And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America." Which left everyone wondering the same thing: When did National Review turn into Penthouse Forum?

Creepiest Obama crush: Chris Matthews of MSNBC, who said that while listening to Obama speak, "I felt this thrill going up my leg".

Best evidence that the next four years may not be a total disaster for political comedy: While on the campaign trail, Joe Biden referred to his running mate as "Barack America"; implored a wheelchair-bound politician to "stand up"; recalled how Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation on TV when the stock market crashed in 1929 (even though F.D.R. wasn't president and few had even heard of TV at the time); and said Hillary Clinton would have made a better V.P. pick because she was more qualified than him. Thanks to Biden, comedians appear to be getting a stimulus package, too.

Best epitaph on the Bush years: In his parting words at his final G-8 Summit, President Bush ended a private meeting with world leaders by saying, "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter." According to press reports, he then punched the air and grinned widely as the rest of those present looked on in shock. Who said he never had an exit strategy?

This piece originally appeared in the New York Times' Laugh Lines blog.

Daniel Kurtzman edits the Political Humor page of, which is part of The New York Times Company. He is author of the books "How to Win a Fight With a Conservative" and "How to Win a Fight With a Liberal."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Some of the offbeat stories of the year

These are some of the strange and offbeat stories of the year. They range from the really bizarre to weird to just dumb. Some are funny, worth a chuckle anyway, some are just enough to make you look with a cocked eyebrow. See what you think, enjoy!!

- A British woman is to divorce her husband after discovering he was having a virtual affair within the online game "Second Life".

- A passionate kiss ruptured a young woman's eardrum in southern China in what has been dubbed the "kiss of deaf".

- Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin was the victim of a prank phone call by a French-Canadian comedian impersonating French President Nicolas Sarkozy days before the presidential election. After Palin realized the call was a hoax, her campaign staff admitted she was "mildly amused".

- Twin girls who were separated at birth due to a medical error met by chance 28 years later, and one of them is now suing the Spanish hospital involved.

- Russians have long used drink to take the edge off workplace stress: one man's senses were so dulled he failed to notice a knife stuck in his back by a colleague.

- An 81-year old man in the small Chilean village of Angol shocked his grieving relatives by waking up in his coffin at his own wake.

- New Zealand's oldest immigrant, 102-year-old Briton Eric King-Turner, sailed into Wellington amid a media frenzy sparked by his decision to retire to the other side of the world.

- Officials in part of the Chinese city of Shanghai launched a campaign to dissuade residents from walking around outside in their pyjamas. The habit emerged when China's economy began to take off, and people were keen to show that they were rich enough to own such luxuries as sleeping attire.

- A US funeral business that specialises in launching cremated human remains into Earth's orbit said it had begun taking reservations for also depositing them on the Moon.

- An idealistic young British man with good media skills informed the world that he intended to walk all the way to India without once using money in any shape or form. He gave up at the first hurdle, complaining that officials in the French Channel port of Calais didn't understand English.

- Welsh-speakers in the town of Swansea were bemused by a road sign which read "I am not in the office at the moment." The text, which should have read "No entry to heavy goods vehicles", had been e-mailed to a translator who was... not in the office at the moment.

- A British woman who celebrated her 105th birthday said the secret to long life was celibacy. Sex was a "lot of hassle," she opined.

- A Cambodian couple seeking a divorce were stumped by their country's convoluted legal processes. They sawed their house in half.

- "Cooking with Balls" was the subtitle of what a Serbian chef promoted as the world's first book on testicle recipes. "All testicles can be eaten -- except human, of course," said the (male) author.

- A Swiss adventurer lived out the fantasies of many a young boy, and probably quite a few girls, by soaring into the sky on a jet-powered wing. "I felt like a bird," he said, after zooming from Britain to France.

- Bulgaria's campaign against cannabis went literally to the doorstep of power, after marijuana plants were found growing amongst the flowers outside government headquarters in Sofia.

- An 78-year-old woman who misread instructions at Sweden's main airport was whisked down a baggage chute when she placed herself, rather than her luggage, on the conveyor belt.

- Emergency surgery saved an Australian python that had swallowed four golf balls, after mistaking them for eggs.

Bush Refuses To Interrupt His Final Vacation As Middle East Crisis Escalates

In an effort to “prevent Palestinians from attacking towns in southern Israel” with rockets, Israel today undertook its third day of offensive military airstrikes in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, raising the death toll to more than 300. The Palestinian casualty numbers have been described as the highest over such a brief period since the 1967 Six-Day war. Scores of Israelis have been wounded — and at least one killed — by rocket attacks fired by Palestinians. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the situation “all out war.”

While Bush has been briefed on the situation by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, he has opted not to interrupt his final vacation as president to make a public statement on the crisis. For someone who has enjoyed the most vacation days as sitting president — including days spent relaxing in comfort during Hurricane Katrina and in the lead-up to 9/11 — it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Bush prioritizes vacationing over crisis management.

Even an emerging crisis in the Middle East, one he pledged to resolve just 13 months ago, has not drawn President George W. Bush from his final vacation before leaving office. Despite his personal pledge at Annapolis last year to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians before 2009, this weekend Bush sent his spokesmen to comment in his stead.

Since departing Washington for Crawford on Friday, President Bush has made no attempt to be seen in public. In fact, he has yet to leave his ranch.

Today, in a press briefing delivered from the “Western White House” in Crawford, TX, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe was asked what is on Bush’s schedule today. In addition to receiving “updates on the ongoing situation,” Johndroe said, “I expect he’ll probably ride his bicycle today and spend time with Mrs. Bush.”

President-elect Barack Obama has also been monitoring the violence from his vacationing spot in Hawaii, staying in contact with Bush and Rice. “President Bush speaks for the United States until Jan. 20 and we’re going to honor that,” Obama adviser David Axelrod said.

One senior Bush administration official told the Washington Post that he thinks the Israelis acted in Gaza “because they want it to be over before the next administration comes in” and because “they can’t predict how the next administration will handle it.” Indeed, Bush has become fairly predictable in how he manages these sorts of crises.

On ABC's This Week yesterday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) expressed his hope that removing Bush's hands-off approach may help address the situation. "I'm hopeful that as this transition comes, as we look to January, that strong presidential leadership can make a difference here."

Jon Alterman, head of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, speculated that Israeli leaders synchronized their retaliatory attacks to political calendars in both Israel and the U.S. More moderate politicians running in the Feb. 10 national election needed to appear strong against Hamas, and it was perhaps better to strike before Bush left office on Jan. 20 because they weren't as sure what Obama's reaction would be.

"I think Obama will be supportive of Israel, but will bring a little more skepticism to it," Alterman said. "I think Obama will start from premise that Israel is an ally, but that we have to look at this fresh."

This is taken from two different sources. Part of it is from Think Progress and another is from a story by the Associated Press.

Some of what is happening in the Middle East is hard for me to justify. I understand both sides, yet it is hard to get news here that tells the true story of what is really going on. We are told mostly only what is happening from the side of the Israli's because they are supposed to be the good guy's, yet from what I can see, I am not sure they are right now.

Oh, I know, Hamas is bad, they are supposed to be a terrorist organization. But, really are who are they hurting lately?? That's my question. Maybe I am just naive, and just haven't been paying close enough attention to what has been happening. This is just my opinion, but right now it looks like the big boy is beating up on the little boy...and I really don't like that.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

UPDATE: RNC Rivals Discuss Racial Song, One blames Media

RNC Rivals Discuss Racial Song
Would-Be Chairman Who Sent CD With Parody Blames Media

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 28, 2008; A05

Republicans who are vying to lead the national party offered a mix of reactions yesterday to the decision by one candidate for the job to mail out a music CD including the song "Barack the Magic Negro."

Chip Saltsman defended his actions, telling the Hill newspaper that the song -- and others on the CD, which was mailed to party members -- was nothing more than a lighthearted parody. But his rivals in the contest to chair the Republican National Committee said it carried an inaccurate message about what the GOP stands for.

"In my opinion, this isn't funny and it's in bad taste," said Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis. "Just as important, anything that paints the GOP as being motivated in our criticism of President-elect Obama by anything other than a difference in philosophy does a disservice to our party."

Current national chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan, who is running for reelection, said he was "shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate."

"The 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party. . . . [This] clearly does not move us in the right direction," he said. Duncan, Anuzis and Saltsman are all white.

But some of Saltsman's rivals responded more mildly. Former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele, one of two black candidates for the job, said Saltsman's "attempt at humor was clearly misplaced," adding that the leadership of the party needs to "be a lot smarter about such things and more appreciative that our actions always speak louder than our words."

"Our actions and our words are oftentimes used to define who we are as Republicans," Steele said in a statement.

And former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell defended Saltsman and attacked the media.

"Unfortunately, there is hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race. This is in large measure due to President-elect Obama being the first African American elected president," Blackwell, who is black, said in a statement.

"I don't think any of the concerns that have been expressed in the media about any of the other candidates for RNC chairman should disqualify them," he said. "When looked at in the proper context, these concerns are minimal. All of my competitors for this leadership post are fine people."

Saltsman adopted a similar line yesterday, calling out the media for reporting on his holiday gift.

"Liberal Democrats and their allies in the media didn't utter a word about David Ehrenstein's irresponsible column in the Los Angeles Times last March. But now, of course, they're shocked and appalled by its parody on 'The Rush Limbaugh Show,' " Saltsman said in a statement, referring to the op-ed article that reportedly inspired the song lyrics.

"I firmly believe that we must welcome all Americans into our party and that the road to Republican resurgence begins with unity, not division. But I know that our party leaders should stand up against the media's double standards and refuse to pander to their desire for scandal," Saltsman added.

Some of the other tracks on the CD called "We Hate the USA,", "John Edwards' Poverty Tour," "The Star Spanglish Banner," "Wright Place, Wrong Pastor" and "Ivory and Ebony." The hit single on the album, however, has to be "Barack the Magic Negro," set to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon" and first popularized by Rush Limbaugh in 2007. There are supposed to be 41 tracks on the CD. How this can be seen as a joke and funny is beyond me. Even the title is not funny by any stretch of the imagination.

President Bush's Legacy.. Good or Bad??

Interesting video of Pres. Bush commenting on criticism from a person in a town hall meeting. Yet, even then it is still as it is now a joke it appears to Pres. Bush that people are not happy with him and are critical of his practices and his policy.

On his last trip to Iraq when he was faced with the insult of the shoe thrower, he took it as a joke, laughed at the reporter and tried to make the entire thing a farce. To Muntazer al-Zaidi it was not a joke. He was serious, he felt he had been wronged and wanted to show his contempt and his rage at Pres. Bush in the best way he could, with the lowest insult in the Arabic world. By showing him the lowest part of the body, the sole of the shoe, he was doing what he could. So many people have said, he didn't hit him. Well, I don't think he ever intended to hit him.

Pres. Bush has always been this way, he has had a cavalier attitude. He never seems to take things seriously, always laughs things off, never seems to let things or people bother him. I have always thought that. Even at what has been called one of our country's darkest hours he showed little or no emotion.

He is still doing the same thing. Now, he is trying to change how we see his entire presidency. Change how we see him. He says he doesn't care about the polls and how they reflect what people think of him but I think he does. I think that's why he has been doing all the interviews trying to get people to see he is still the same as he was when he came to Washington. But, is he??

Maybe, he is the same, but is Washington the same as it was? I know things are certainly looked at differently. We don't enjoy the same freedoms we had 8 years ago, not all of it due to Pres. Bush, some of it just because of changing times. But, some of the changes are due to Pres. Bush, warrantless wiretaps, habeas corpus has been circumvented, and “enhanced” interrogation techniques, just to name a few.

Yet the Bush Presidency is almost over. What will remain after he is gone? Will anyone really miss him? According to a poll on CNN, 23% will miss him, 71% will not. That's not saying much. That's even less than his last favorable rating. At his highest, his rating was only 67%. Pres. Bush will be remembered for a long while as one of the worse presidents we have ever had. Some say in time his legacy will get better. I am not sure. There is a lot of bad to forget, not a lot of good to remember.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Update to yesterday from Washington Post..RNC candidate's Gift

As I stated in my earlier post, they wonder why they are losing members of thier party!!! They are divisive, racist, and they think this is funny?? Some of the comments that were made during the presidential campaign by the chair people of the RNC were terrible. This is why they are losing members and they are still wondering why. Until they figure that out, they will continue to lose members. This entire CD is filled with garbage, it isn't just one track, it is all of it. But, then after finding racist emails on the state's computers in Alaska and nothing yet from the Governor about disavowing them, nor even that she didn't know about them, the area's she thought were the best parts of the USA were the area's that have the most problems with this kind of stuff. Her "Team Sarah" web site is full of this kind of trash and she does nothing to stop it. What else do you expect from the group that claims she is their choice for 2012. It may be very interesting in 2012, with a racist group backing Sarah Palin and the Mormans backing Mitt Romney. Quite a primary for the Republican's don't you think??

Republican's Gift Held Racial Parody of Obama

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 27, 2008; A05

Chip Saltsman, a candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent committee members this month a holiday music CD that included "Barack the Magic Negro," a parody song first aired in 2007 by talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Created by conservative satirist Paul Shanklin, the song puts new lyrics to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon," and it is performed as if black activist Al Sharpton were singing it. Limbaugh played it after the Los Angeles Times ran an opinion piece with the same title.

"A guy from the LA paper said it made guilty whites feel good, they'll vote for him and not for me cuz he's not from the hood," the song goes. "Oh, Barack the magic negro lives in DC, the LA Times they called him that because he's black but not authentically."

The CD accompanied holiday greetings from Saltsman, a Tennessee resident who managed former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's campaign for president. Saltsman announced his bid to lead the Republican Party this month.

He did not return a call seeking comment last night. Saltsman had earlier told the Hill newspaper, which first reported the incident, that the song is meant as a joke. "Paul Shanklin is a longtime friend, and I think that RNC members have the good humor and good sense to recognize that his songs for 'The Rush Limbaugh Show' are light-hearted political parodies," he told the newspaper.

Another candidate to lead the GOP, South Carolina party chair Katon Dawson, drew headlines this fall by resigning his membership of 12 years in a whites-only country club, weeks before launching his run for the national job.

The incidents for both men come as Republicans are reeling from losing the presidency and dozens of House and Senate seats, and as many in the party are trying to improve relations with African Americans, who voted in record numbers for Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates last month.

Among the candidates for RNC chairman are two African Americans: Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland; and Ken Blackwell, a former secretary of state in Ohio. Neither could be reached last night for comment.

A spokesman for President-elect Obama also declined to comment.

The RNC is scheduled to vote for chairman at the end of January.

My Thoughts about Right Wing Nuts and the Losers of the GOP

The GOP is wondering why they are losing member's, they are wondering why they are losing election's, they are trying to figure out what to do in order to change direction of their party.

During the campaign this year there were several instances of this we saw. High ups in the GOP saying something totally off the wall about Barack Obama being African American. Did they think no one knew that? Was that the problem? Then there was the scare tactics. He is going to do something awful, he is a Muslim, he isn't like the rest of us, he isn't a citizen, he wasn't born in the USA, oh the list could go on and on. It is still happening.

There are still lawsuits trying to prove he isn't a citizen, that he wasn't born in the USA, that he doesn't have a birth certificate. I even had someone in my family tell me that on Christmas Day. I couldn't believe it. Not sure why, but it just blew my mind. I told him what I could, and he said oh ok but I am sure I didn't convince him of anything. I also told him I was going to call him a right wing nut and he didn't like that.

Even now, they are still working to try to do something, I am not real sure what they hope to accomplish, stop him from taking office or something, do the election over. What, put in Sarah Palin? God forbid. We would really be in trouble then. Even if somehow they could do something unprecedented, like getting him disqualified, Joe Biden would take over, for the short amount of time it would take to get this stopped and then it would just continue with PE Obama's policies going forward, so what did they really accomplish??

Furthermore, WHY?? Why are they doing this? What benefit are they getting from trying to prove something that they can't prove? Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, Philip J. Berg, Leo Donofrio, and Andy Martin have all tried in differing ways to denounce, deny and basically destroy PE Obama. From lies in the media to filing lawsuits saying he is not a natural born citizen, to even trying to get his birth certificate in Hawaii, they have been almost relentless.

As, I asked, why?? Because he is different, because he is a Democrat. Because he is not one of them. Because as he said he doesn't look like all the other presidents we have had. He doesn't fit the stereotype. Because they are afraid, because he might succeed, because he might turn our country in a different direction. Because we are sure not headed in the right direction now.

So, we are just a few days away now from the election being certified. The electoral college will go in front of the senate, the votes will be cast, the inauguration will be held on the 20th of January and that will be the beginning of a new presidency. So, then what next for all the right wing nuts. Will they stop??

No, I don't think so. From what I have been seeing and hearing, they are just shifting focus. Some of them still have lawsuits pending. The ones who don't are now just moving their focus to the stimulus package PE Obama and VPE Biden are trying to put together. They are trying to re-write history again. Saying that FDR was a failure, he didn't bring us out of the Depression. So, therefore nothing that PEBO would do along those same lines will help now. It is too big, we can't spend that much money, the deficit is already too big.

But you know, I have to wonder where all these budget watchers were the last 8 years. No one seemed to mind when Bush and the Republicans were running up the deficit. They spent like drunken sailors and it sure didn't seem like Hannity and Limbaugh minded then.

Of course, that was when Bush was cutting their taxes at the same time, to help them out and make sure they could afford to put more money in the bank. Now, it's time to help us little people out, the middle class, the lower class, so the outrage is there.

Well, guess what guys. Go back to your corners. We will let you know when we want to hear from you again. Because right now, we don't. So, sit down, shut up and let the smart people talk a while.

Friday, December 26, 2008

RNC chair candidate sends out controversial Obama song

A candidate for Republican National Committee chairman said Friday it was clear the content of a CD he sent committee members for Christmas — that included lyrics from a song called “Barack the Magic Negro” — was intended as a joke.

“I think most people recognize political satire when they see it,” Chip Saltsman told CNN. “I think RNC members understand that.” Saltsman, a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, was a top advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign.

The song, set to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon,” was first played on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show in 2007. Its title was drawn from a Los Angeles Times column that suggested Obama appealed to those who feel guilty about the nation’s history of mistreatment of African-Americans. Saltsman said the song, penned by long-time friend Paul Shanklin, should be easily recognized as satire directed at the Times.

The parody CD sent to RNC members this Christmas, first reported by The Hill Friday, is titled “We Hate the USA”, and includes songs referencing former presidential John Edwards and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, among other targets.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Birth of Jesus, from Luke NKJV of the Bible

The Birth of Jesus Luke 2: 1-40 NKJV
1.In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
2.(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
3.And everyone went to his own town to register.
4.So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5.He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
6.While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7.and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
8.And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9.An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10.But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13.Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14."Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15.When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16.So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17.When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
18.and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
19.But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20.The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Jesus Presented in the Temple
21.On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
22.When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
23.(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord" ),
24.and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
25.Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26.It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27.Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,
28.Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29."Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30.For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31.which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32.a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
33.The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.
34.Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
36.There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,
37.and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.
38.Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39.When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.
40.And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Two UN Votes this week by the USA, both NO, both UNBELIEVABLE

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Something happened this week that I find unbelievable. I have thought about it for a couple of days and finally decided this was the time to post it. Later I will post something else. But now, this is one of those, you really won't believe this stories.

From Care 2 Make a Difference

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights celebrated its 60th anniversary this month, which is a great accomplishment. It has raised awareness around the world and has been a touchstone for rights workers everywhere. What I can't understand is why my country, the United States, continues to vote against resolutions that one would think any civilized nation could support.

Two important resolutions at the UN General Assembly were opposed by the U.S. last week. Maybe it was just a matter of semantics, and with some different wording our representative would have voted for them. But then I looked at the votes cast and it seems clear to me that every other nation did not have issues with the wording. It left me kind of disgusted at the powers that be.

The first was a resolution on the right to food, which would “consider it intolerable” that more than 6 million children continue to die every year before the age of 5 from hunger-related illness, when the planet can produce enough food to feed 12 billion people (twice the world’s population). One hundred and eighty nations voted in favor of making the "right to food" a basic human right, and the U.S. was the only country to vote against it.

The second was a resolution on the rights of the child, which asks nations to create an environment conducive to the well-being of all children, including the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the right to food, the eradication of poverty and the right to education. Again, 180 nations voted in favor, and the U.S. was the only vote against it.

Is this contrary attitude just a carryover from the Bush administration? Will Barack Obama's government change the way we interact with the world?

I certainly hope so.

It's high time we woke up and became good neighbors with the other residents here on Spaceship Earth.

From another blog posted at Crooks & Liars: By a vote of 180 in favour to 1 against (United States) and no abstentions, the Committee also approved a resolution on the right to food, by which the Assembly would “consider it intolerable” that more than 6 million children still died every year from hunger-related illness before their fifth birthday, and that the number of undernourished people had grown to about 923 million worldwide, at the same time that the planet could produce enough food to feed 12 billion people, or twice the world’s present population. (See Annex III.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Regulations Regarding Torture

I know I have been posting a lot about torture and the Bush Administration's culpability in it, but this is something I feel strongly about. I have somethings now that show the legalities of behind why we shouldn't torture.
Also, there has been discussion as to whether water boarding is torture or not but it has been known as torture since the Spanish Inquisition. It was just when the Bush Administration decided to change how the USA recognized the Geneva Convention that water boarding became not torture as far as they were concerned. However, they then changed their mind after the pictures of Abu Ghraib became public and say they have stopped doing it. So, if it isn't illegal, if it isn't torture, why did they stop?
Here are the rulings and laws that spell out the reasons and reasoning behind us not allowing torture and why they should be held accountable. Also, why are they, the ones who ordered torture to be done, by his own admission, VP Cheney did so, any less guilty than the ones who were punished earlier? Remember Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick,Pfc. Lynndie England, Spc. Sabrina Harman,Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr.,Spc. Jeremy Sivits, Sgt. Javal S. Davis, Spc. Megan Ambuhl, Spc. Armin J. Cruz Jr., and Spc. Roman Krol?

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
advisory declaration adopted by
the United Nations General Assembly
(December 10, 1948)
Article 2
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Article 3
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 4
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

[emphasis added]
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was presented after World [W]ar II. Its provisions made their way into the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as such, were ratified as norms of international law by the majority of civilized states in the world.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

- in force September 8, 1992
Article 4. 1 . In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.
2. No derogation from articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs I and 2), 11, 15, 16 and 18 may be made under this provision. 3. Any State Party to the present Covenant availing itself of the right of derogation shall immediately inform the other States Parties to the present Covenant, through the intermediary of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, of the provisions from which it has derogated and of the reasons by which it was actuated. A further communication shall be made, through the same intermediary, on the date on which it terminates such derogation.
Article 7. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.
Article 16. Everyone shall have the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

[emphasis added]
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - in force November 20, 1994
Article 3 . 1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture. 2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.
Article 4. 1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture. 2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.
Article 16. 1. Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
2. The provisions of this Convention are without prejudice to the provisions of any other international instrument or national law which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or which relates to extradition or expulsion.
[emphasis added]
The United States signed and ratified both the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties

- entered into force internationally on January 27, 1980
Article 53. Treaties conflicting with a peremptory norm of general international law (jus cogens). A treaty is void if, at the time of its conclusion, it conflicts with a peremptory norm of general international law. For the purposes of the present Convention, a peremptory norm of general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of States as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character. [emphasis added]
The United States has not ratified nor signed this treaty, supposedly because its contents were already accepted norms of international law.
In the Aftermath of World War II the United States was a participant in the Nüremberg Tribunal
Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nüremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, 1950.
Principle I
Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.
Principle III
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.
Principle IV
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
Principle VII
Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Obama White House task force on working families to be chaired by Biden


President-elect Obama Taps Vice President-elect Biden to Chair

By Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun Times

Washington, DC - Today the Obama Transition team announced the President-elect's intention to form a 'White House Task Force on Working Families,' to be chaired by Vice President-elect Joe Biden, effective January 20, 2009. The Task Force will be a major initiative targeted at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America. The task force will be comprised of top-level administration policy makers, and in addition to regular meetings, it will conduct outreach sessions with representatives of labor, business, and the advocacy communities.

"My administration will be absolutely committed to the future of America's middle-class and working families. They will be front and center every day in our work in the White House. And this Task Force will be one vehicle we will use to ensure that we never forget that commitment. I think it can make a great contribution to our work, and I'm grateful that the Vice President-elect has agreed to chair it," said President-elect Obama.

The Vice President-elect said: "Our charge is to look at existing and future policies across the board and use a yard stick to measure how they are impacting the working and middle-class families: Is the number of these families growing? Are they prospering? President-elect Obama and I know the economic health of working families has eroded, and we intend to turn that around."

The Vice President-elect and members of the task force will work with a wide array of federal agencies that have responsibility for key issues facing middle class and working families, and expedite administrative reforms, propose Executive orders, and develop legislative and policy proposals that can be of special importance to working families.

The President-elect has set the following goals for the task force:

· Expanding education and lifelong training opportunities
· Improving work and family balance
· Restoring labor standards, including workplace safety
· Helping to protect middle-class and working-family incomes
· Protecting retirement security

Members of the White House Task Force on Working Families will include the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Commerce, as well as the Directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

The Task Force will operate in a transparent fashion, with any submissions to it from outside groups posted online, and open, two-way dialogue directly with the American people. The Task Force will issue annual reports on its findings and recommendations, which will be made available to the public and will be posted on the internet.

Postal Service changes Santa program

Postal Service changes Santa program
Volunteers will no longer have access to children's last names or addresses
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - A sex offender is responsible for taking away some of the joy of the Postal Service's Operation Santa program: Volunteers who answer children's letters to Santa can no longer deliver gifts in person — or even know where they're going.

The program resumed Saturday morning in New York and Chicago, three days after it was abruptly suspended after a postal worker in Maryland recognized one volunteer as a registered offender. A postal inspector intervened before the individual could answer a child's letter, but officials decided changes had to be made.

It was a shocking moment for the effort, which started in New York's main post office in the 1920s. Back then, postal clerks answered Santa's mail, buying food and toys for children. Over the years, the number of letters increased, and the program was opened to the public in post offices around the country.

For some gift-givers, one of the personal pleasures was to show up and surprise needy kids at home — after rifling through piles of letters and envelopes looking for a story that tugged at their heartstrings.

Now, those opportunities for face-to-face contact are gone. Volunteers will no longer have access to the children's last names or addresses.

Family name now blocked out
At New York City's main post office on Saturday, each letter had been removed from its envelope and photocopied, with the child's family name blocked out, if it happened to appear in the text. The addresses were replaced with codes that match computerized addresses known only to the post office.

What remained, though, was no less heart-wrenching.

In neat handwriting, a 10-year-old Bronx girl named Jennifer said her father couldn't work because his kidneys were failing and he was undergoing dialysis. For her and her two sisters, she told Santa, "anything you send me will make me happy."

After showing a photo ID, each volunteer was handed five letters at a time to choose from, tables where people also wrapped and boxed gifts for mailing.

"It's sad that people can't take their gifts to children and give personally anymore," said Brian Pavlock. The 25-year-old, who works in finance, went to the post office on Saturday to participate in the program with 11-year-old Tristin Ellis; the two know each other through a big-brother volunteer program.

Together, they wrapped toys to send to another 11-year-old "who is less fortunate than I am," Tristin said.

The boy didn't know why this year, the pair's second Operation Santa experience, they didn't get a name and an address. Pavlock explained to him that something "bad" could happen if, say, a robber got hold of a family's address.

It was an adult's effort to soften reality for a child.

‘Spirit of giving is still there’
While the program operates in many metropolitan areas across the country, most have finished answering letters for this year. But New York and Chicago still have enough volume to continue into next week.

In New York, where about a half-million letters from as far as China arrived this year, boxes of letters were sorted geographically by the city's five boroughs, with a special section for the large number of letters in Spanish.

One volunteer in the program, Brian Bates, a 45-year-old father from Manhattan who bought clothing and toys for three families, said he understood why things had to change.

"As a parent, I'm much more comfortable with people not having the personal information," he said. "I don't think the kids know the difference — as long as they have a present to rip open under the Christmas tree."

Going forward, the volunteers will still pick out the gifts and pay the postage, but a computer will match the letter to the right address, and the post office will deliver the package.

"The spirit of giving is still there, making somebody's Christmas a little brighter," said U.S. Postal Service spokesman George Flood. "But the times have changed. So the Operation Santa program had to change."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

6 Questions for Matthew of How to Break a Terrorist

On Dec. 1, 2008 I posted this:

I'm Still Tortured by What I Saw in Iraq
By Matthew Alexander
Sunday, November 30, 2008;
I should have felt triumphant when I returned from Iraq in August 2006. Instead, I was worried and exhausted. My team of interrogators had successfully hunted down one of the most notorious mass murderers of our generation, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the mastermind of the campaign of suicide bombings that had helped plunge Iraq into civil war. But instead of celebrating our success, my mind was consumed with the unfinished business of our mission: fixing the deeply flawed, ineffective and un-American way the U.S. military conducts interrogations in Iraq. I'm still alarmed about that today.

I'm not some ivory-tower type; I served for 14 years in the U.S. Air Force, began my career as a Special Operations pilot flying helicopters, saw combat in Bosnia and Kosovo, became an Air Force counterintelligence agent, then volunteered to go to Iraq to work as a senior interrogator. What I saw in Iraq still rattles me -- both because it betrays our traditions and because it just doesn't work.

Here is more from Matthew Alexander, and please remember this is not his real name. He has had to hide his identity. This is cross posted from Harper's Magazine and was written by Scott Horton. He interviewed Matthew and asked him these 6 questions.

“The American Public has a Right to Know That They Do Not Have to Choose Between Torture and Terror”: Six questions for Matthew Alexander, author of How to Break a Terrorist

At 5:15 p.m. on June 7, 2006, two American F-16 fighters dropped 500-pound bombs on a farmhouse about five miles north of the Iraqi town of Baqubah. Within an hour, the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian street thug who had risen to become the head of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, was confirmed. This resulted from one of the most important intelligence breakthroughs of the Iraq War. Matthew Alexander is the pseudonym for an American Air Force major who, through a series of skillful interrogations, secured the information that allowed the military to pinpoint al Zarqawi’s whereabouts and kill him. His book How to Break a Terrorist is a compelling account of the American military’s turn from highly coercive interrogation techniques, which proved consistently unproductive, to confidence-building approaches honed over decades in the American law-enforcement community, which achieved steady success.

Major Matthew Alexander 1. In the last weeks of the Bush Administration, they’re waging a campaign to convince the public that President-elect Obama’s plans to close Guantánamo, ban torture, and stop extraordinary renditions will make America less safe. Here’s how one of the administration’s apologists recently put things in an op-ed in the New York Times: “if we’d gotten our hands on a senior member of Al Qaeda before 9/11, and knew that an attack likely to kill thousands of Americans was imminent, wouldn’t waterboarding, or taking advantage of the skills of our Jordanian friends, have been the sensible, moral thing to do with a holy warrior who didn’t fear death but might have feared pain?” You actually did have “holy warriors” in your custody who were plotting to kill American soldiers and innocent civilians, and got the results that enabled U.S. fighter bombers to take out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. What do you think of these claims?

In Iraq, we lived the “ticking time bomb” scenario every day. Numerous Al Qaeda members that we captured and interrogated were directly involved in coordinating suicide bombing attacks. I remember one distinct case of a Sunni imam who was caught just after having blessed suicide bombers to go on a mission. Had we gotten there just an hour earlier, we could have saved lives. Still, we knew that if we resorted to torture the short term gains would be outweighed by the long term losses. I listened time and time again to foreign fighters, and Sunni Iraqis, state that the number one reason they had decided to pick up arms and join Al Qaeda was the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the authorized torture and abuse at Guantánamo Bay. My team of interrogators knew that we would become Al Qaeda’s best recruiters if we resorted to torture. Torture is counterproductive to keeping America safe and it doesn’t matter if we do it or if we pass it off to another government. The result is the same. And morally, I believe, there is an even stronger argument. Torture is simply incompatible with American principles. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln both forbade their troops from torturing prisoners of war. They realized, as the recent bipartisan Senate report echoes, that this is about who we are. We cannot become our enemy in trying to defeat him.

2. One of the most controversial tactics that the Bush Administration adopted in the war on terror involves abusing a prisoner’s religious feelings to degrade or humiliate. Enforced nudity, the use of military dogs, sexually suggestive conduct, and forms of ritual defilement have all been documented as authorized techniques in Iraq and at Guantánamo, even though these techniques are probably illegal. Do you believe that an interrogator can make headway by trashing his subject’s religion or by using religion to degrade? Did you make use of religion in a different way?

First, there’s no doubt in my mind that these tactics are illegal. Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 specifically bans “humiliating and degrading treatment.” Trashing or degrading a detainee’s religion does not help convince a detainee to cooperate. It does just the opposite, reinforcing the reasons why the detainee decided to pick up arms against us.

During training, we were told that religion was a taboo subject because of the types of illegal activities that had occurred at Guantánamo Bay. I disagreed and I often discussed religion with my detainees. I frequently brought my own copy of the Quran into the interrogation booth and asked religious questions, always treating Islam with respect. I’ve read the Quran even though I’m not Muslim. I found my detainees, even high level imams, to be very open to my inquiries. In this way I showed them that I respected their religion and their beliefs and it changed their attitudes towards me and helped me to win their trust. One of our great strengths as Americans is our religious tolerance, a founding principle of our country, and we should use that strength in the interrogation booth to help build rapport with detainees and foster cooperation. As I told my team in Iraq, the things that make you a good American are the same things that will make you a good interrogator.

3. In your book you detail “new approaches” which seem very familiar to me—they are techniques that the FBI has used in interrogation for several decades, focusing on confidence-building. Is that correct? Why did it take so long for tested and proven approaches from the law enforcement world to be used in a military intelligence operation?

You are correct that relationship- (or confidence-) building approaches are not new and have been known to law enforcement for decades. Even World War II interrogators used relationship-building approaches to great success, but we can build on that. Interrogation is an art and a science and, like every discipline, can be improved upon. My group began to integrate relationship-building with other criminal investigative techniques, always tailoring it to the culture at hand. This is what made our techniques new. I watched day in and day out as my group of interrogators used American ingenuity in adapting these approaches for each individual detainee and they were highly effective. Interrogation is about being smarter, not harsher.

Why these techniques have not yet been integrated into intelligence interrogation is a mystery to me. I made a list of criminal investigation techniques that would be effective in interrogations and included it in my “after-action” report. The next administration needs to institutionalize this approach by contracting a cadre of experienced law enforcement officers to help train our intelligence interrogators. This same relationship already exists between civilian and military criminal investigators.

4. You describe members of your team saying that Al Qaeda members did not care about their families, that they were committed ideologues. This was taken as a justification for the use of coercion (usually fear) as the key tool for interrogation. But most counterterrorism experts agree that recruits to radical Islamist groups may be brought in by many factors other than ideology—clan-based affiliations, family, a motive of revenge–even a desire to make some money. It would obviously be vital for an interrogator to get a fix on motivation in forming an approach to getting a prisoner to talk. Does that suggest that American interrogators are being hindered by a politically shaped and unnecessarily crude understanding of the adversary?

Yes. We do ourselves a great disservice by stereotyping our enemies. Al Qaeda is comprised of a variety of individuals each with their own unique motivations for having joined. I can only remember one true ideologue in all the interrogations I conducted or supervised (more than 1,300) and even he started to come around at the end because we treated him with respect. The overwhelming majority of Sunni Iraqis who joined Al Qaeda did so out of need, not want. For some the reason was economic, for others tribal obligations, and for a large number it was for protection from the Shiite militias–the militias that we allowed, after the removal of Saddam, to conduct reprisal killings. When my group of interrogators reached out to these Sunnis and offered them an alternative to fighting against us –fighting with us–they were easily convinced to cooperate and rejected Al Qaeda. Sometimes all it took was an apology from an American for the mistakes we made at the beginning of the war. General David Petraeus proved this point by facilitating the Anbar Awakening. Interrogations are best conducted in the spirit of cooperation and negotiation, not domination and retribution. This is a metaphor for how we should use all of our instruments of power in fighting this war.

5. You note that the Bush Administration insisted on 93 redactions from the text and you had to take them to court, winning only after the book had gone to press. Most of the redactions do not appear to be motivated by legitimate concerns about security; they seem instead to be an effort to derail publication of your book. What do you think this was about? How does your publisher plan to make the redacted texts available to the public?

I believe this was an attempt at censorship and, perhaps, retaliation. On appeal I won 80 of the 93 redactions, so only 13 remain in the book. The Department of Defense redacted an extraordinary amount of unclassified material, including the entire scene where I convinced the man who led us to Zarqawi to cooperate after only six hours of interrogation using a relationship-building approach. The old methods of interrogation had failed for twenty days to convince this man to cooperate. The American public has a right to know that they do not have to choose between torture and terror. There is a better way to conduct interrogations that works more efficiently, keeps Americans safe, and doesn’t sacrifice our integrity. Our greatest victory to date in this war, the death of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi (which saved thousands of lives and helped pave the way to the Sunni Awakening), was achieved using interrogation methods that had nothing to do with torture. The American people deserve to know that. In future printings or the paperback version of How to Break a Terrorist we will include the material that we have won on appeal. I am still appealing several remaining redactions of obvious unclassified material.

6. You write that the Bush Administration’s torture policy is responsible for the death of more Americans than perished on 9/11. Explain what you mean by this.

The number-one reason foreign fighters gave for coming to Iraq to fight is the torture and abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. The majority of suicide bombings are carried out by foreign fighters who volunteered and came to Iraq with this motivation. Consequently it is clear that at least hundreds but more likely thousands of American lives (not to count Iraqi civilian deaths) are linked directly to the policy decision to introduce the torture and abuse of prisoners as accepted tactics. Americans have died from terrorist attacks since 9/11; those Americans just happen to be American soldiers. This is not simply my view–it is widely held among senior officers in the U.S. military today. Alberto Mora, who served as General Counsel of the Navy under Donald Rumsfeld, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2008 that “U.S. flag-rank officers maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq–as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat–are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.” We owe it to our troops to protect them from terrorist attacks by not conducting torture and we owe it to our forefathers to uphold the American principles that they passed down to us.

“My friend,” I say. “Let me ask you this. What can I do for you?”


“You’re helping me so I want to know how can I help you?”

“I have one favor to ask.”

“Of course. What can I do for you?” He seems embarrassed.

“I do not like showering naked in front of the guards.”

I nod and tell him, “I wouldn’t like that either.” That relaxes him a little.

“Would it be possible for me to wear boxer shorts in the shower?” He could have asked for a lot more than that.

“That won’t be a problem. I will let the guards know.”

—A passage the Bush Administration attempted to censor from How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Free Press. Copyright (c) 2008 Matthew Alexander

I see the world in terms of tolerance. Ignorance versus knowledge. Fear versus understanding. These two videos [of beheadings] are displays of hatred so fierce that it drives men to depravity. It is the hatred that I hate…

Pure hate. Pure malice. Torture and cruelty are their tools. To fight them, should I resort to hate? To bitterness and jaded contempt? Is that what it means to be a veteran ‘gator around here?

—From How to Break a Terrorist by Matthew Alexander

In addition to this I want to add another quote that Scott Horton had. He also talked to someone else and asked about a story that has been tossed around the last few days by the Bush administration. Here is the results of that question. I am not going to say anything...just add what he said in the magazine.

FBI Director Calls Cheney on Torture Lies
By Scott Horton

The Bush Administration’s swan song consists of a series of increasingly absurd claims designed to cover its crimes and failings. The most persistent of these is the claim that torture was necessary to save lives, and that attacks were in fact averted through the use of torture techniques. Vice President Cheney continued his crusade for torture yesterday insisting that torture is the “moral” thing to do (helping to explain the origins of Cheney’s Washington nickname, “vice”). Vanity Fair’s David Rose takes a look at the administration’s case for torture, and specifically its claims that torture averted attacks or at least produced actionable intelligence of some sort. He walks us through all the claims, one by one, and finds that they are all contradicted by the facts. Some of the sources did produce useful intelligence, but in no case was the application of torture the reason why, nor did it even contribute to the result. In the final lines of his article, he has this exchange with FBI director Robert Mueller:

I ask Mueller: So far as he is aware, have any attacks on America been

disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls “enhanced techniques”?

“I’m really reluctant to answer that,” Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate: “I don’t believe that has been the case.”

Mueller is “reluctant to answer” because he knows that Cheney and other administration spokespersons have repeatedly made that claim. And he knows that it is a lie which has been advanced for a specific reason: to cloak their criminal conduct.

Friday, December 19, 2008

You Just Can't Make This Up, Part II

You Just Can't Make This Up, Part II

Remember when the campaign was going on and the rallys were so heated and Palin was stumping and the crowds were getting loud and yelling things and people were whispering that there were racist undertones there?? At the time people even said it was possible Gov. Palin was possibly a tad racist herself. That she didn't support the natives in Alaska, she had no record of supporting the African Americans in Alaska and there were none on her staff. This was later disputed when it was pointed out by Bill McAllister, her spokesperson that he was actually African American.

Well, from the You can't make this up file we find this today....reported by the AP:

Alaska Checking E-Mailed Slurs About Obama


Alaska officials are investigating e-mail messages that included racist jokes about President-elect Barack Obama and were circulated on state government accounts by state employees.

Officials say that the messages apparently originated in a private account but that about 10 state employees appear to have “taken action” on them, like forwarding them to others.

Bill McAllister, a spokesman for Gov. Sarah Palin, said Thursday that none of the 10 employees worked in the governor’s office and that to his knowledge no one in the office had received any of the messages, which, he said, Ms. Palin condemns.

“They violate state policy — at least that’s the prima facie view of things,” Mr. McAllister said in a telephone interview. “They’re not state business, and obviously they are offensive, and clearly she doesn’t support that. And she does not support racism, and she does not support attacks on the president-elect.”

The messages were first reported by The Associated Press, which did not say how it had learned of them. The news agency said it had obtained five messages with racist comments, including one that summarized the significance of Mr. Obama’s election victory as “another black family living in government housing.”

Annette Kreitzer, the state commissioner of administration, told The A.P. that the employees who forwarded the messages could be reprimanded but that it was unlikely they would be dismissed. Ms. Kreitzer did not immediately respond Thursday to requests for an interview.

You Just Can't Make This Up

From the You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up File:

Levi Johnston who is the boyfriend of Bristol Palin, the daughter of Gov. Sarah Palin, is now going to have to defend his mother.

The mother of Levi Johnston, the 18-year-old boyfriend of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's teenage daughter, has been arrested on drug charges, the Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.

Sherry L. Johnston, 42, has been charged with six felony counts of misconduct, the newspaper reported.

Levi Johnston entered the national spotlight this autumn when it was revealed that 18-year-old Bristol Palin — the eldest daughter of Sarah Palin, who had just been tapped as then-Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate — was pregnant with his child.

The baby is due Saturday, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The paper said that Alaska State Troopers charged Sherry Johnston with second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and fourth-degree misconduct involving controlled substances, or possession.

Sherry Johnston has been released on a $5,000 bond, the newspaper reported.

Contacted by the Anchorage Daily News, Palin's spokesman, Bill McAllister, issued this statement: "This is not a state government matter. Therefore the governor's communications staff will not be providing comment or scheduling interview opportunities."

Letter to the "Nissan Senators" from a Ford Dealer

I found this posted on another blog I read sometimes...PA for I am cross posting it here. I think it is very telling. My uncle and I were talking about some of these very things earlier today.

I am thankful that Pres. Bush has done the proper thing and give the auto manufactors a chance to make themselves healthy. Hopefully, by giving them this loan this will hold them until they can restructure and give the credit market time to right itself and people will begin to buy again.

As I watch the coverage of the fate of the U.S. auto industry, one alarming and frustrating fact hits me right between the eyes. The fate of our nation’s economic survival is in the hands of some congressmen who are completely out of touch and act without knowledge of an industry that affects almost every person in our nation. The same lack of knowledge is shared with many journalists whom are irresponsible when influencing the opinion of millions of viewers.
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama has doomed the industry, calling it a dinosaur. No Mr. Shelby, you are the dinosaur, with ideas stuck in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. You and the uninformed journalist and senators that hold onto myths that are not relevant in today’s world.

When you say that the Big Three build vehicles nobody wants to buy, you must have overlooked that GM outsold Toyota by about 1.2 million vehicles in the U.S. and Ford outsold Honda by 850,000 and Nissan by 1.2 million in the U.S. GM was the world’s No. 1 automaker beating Toyota by 3,000 units.
When you claim inferior quality comes from the Big Three, did you realize that Chevy makes the Malibu and Ford makes the Fusion that were both rated over the Camry and Accord by J.D. Power independent survey on initial quality? Did you bother to read the Consumer Report that rated Ford on par with good Japanese automakers.

Did you realize Big Three’s gas guzzlers include the 33 mpg Malibu that beats the Accord. And for ‘09 Ford introduces the Hybrid Fusion whose 39 mpg is the best midsize, beating the Camry Hybrid. Ford’s Focus beats the Corolla and Chevy’s Cobalt beats the Civic.

When you ask how many times are we going to bail them out you must be referring to 1980. The only Big Three bailout was Chrysler, who paid back $1 billion, plus interest. GM and Ford have never received government aid.

When you criticize the Big Three for building so many pickups, surely you’ve noticed the attempts Toyota and Nissan have made spending billions to try to get a piece of that pie. Perhaps it bothers you that for 31 straight years Ford’s F-Series has been the best selling vehicle. Ford and GM have dominated this market and when you see the new ‘09 F-150 you’ll agree this won’t change soon.

Did you realize that both GM and Ford offer more hybrid models than Nissan or Honda. Between 2005 and 2007, Ford alone has invested more than $22 billion in research and development of technologies such as Eco Boost, flex fuel, clean diesel, hybrids, plug in hybrids and hydrogen cars.
It’s 2008 and the quality of the vehicles coming out of Detroit are once again the best in the world.

Perhaps Sen. Shelby isn’t really that blind. Maybe he realizes the quality shift to American. Maybe it’s the fact that his state of Alabama has given so much to land factories from Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes Benz that he is more concerned about their continued growth than he is about the people of our country. Sen. Shelby’s disdain for “government subsidies” is very hypocritical. In the early ’90s he was the driving force behind a $253 million incentive package to Mercedes. Plus, Alabama agreed to purchase 2,500 vehicles from Mercedes. While the bridge loan the Big Three is requesting will be paid back, Alabama ’s $180,000-plus per job was pure incentive. Sen. Shelby, not only are you out of touch, you are a self-serving hypocrite, who is prepared to ruin our nation because of lack of knowledge and lack of due diligence in making your opinions and decisions.

After 9/11, the Detroit Three and Harley Davidson gave $40 million-plus emergency vehicles to the recovery efforts. What was given to the 9/11 relief effort by the Asian and European Auto Manufactures? $0 Nada. Zip!

We live in a world of free trade, world economy and we have not been able to produce products as cost efficiently. While the governments of other auto producing nations subsidize their automakers, our government may be ready to force its demise. While our automakers have paid union wages, benefits and legacy debt, our Asian competitors employ cheap labor. We are at an extreme disadvantage in production cost. Although many UAW concessions begin in 2010, many lawmakers think it’s not enough.

Some point the blame to corporate management. I would like to speak of Ford Motor Co. The company has streamlined by reducing our workforce by 51,000 since 2005, closing 17 plants and cutting expenses. Product and future product is excellent and the company is focused on one Ford. This is a company poised for success. Ford product quality and corporate management have improved light years since the nightmare of Jacques Nasser. Thank you Alan Mulally and the best auto company management team in the business.

The financial collapse caused by the secondary mortgage fiasco and the greed of Wall Street has led to a $700 billion bailout of the industry that created the problem. AIG spent nearly $1 million on three company excursions to lavish resorts and hunting destinations. Paulson is saying no to $250 billion foreclosure relief and the whole thing is a mess. So when the Big Three ask for 4 percent of that of the $700 billion, $25 billion to save the country’s largest industry, there is obviously oppositions. But does it make sense to reward the culprits of the problem with $700 billion unconditionally, and ignore the victims?

As a Ford dealer, I feel our portion of the $25 billion will never be touched and is not necessary. Ford currently has $29 billion of liquidity. However, the effect of a bankruptcy by GM will hurt the suppliers we all do business with. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy by any manufacture would cost retirees their health care and retirements. Chances are GM would recover from Chapter 11 with a better business plan with much less expense. So who foots the bill if GM or all three go Chapter 11? All that extra health care, unemployment, loss of tax base and some forgiven debt goes back to the taxpayer, us. With no chance of repayment, this would be much worse than a loan with the intent of repayment.

So while it is debatable whether a loan or Chapter 11 is better for the Big Three, a $25 billion loan is definitely better for the taxpayers and the economy of our country.

So I’ll end where I began on the quality of the products of Detroit . Before you, Mr. or Ms. Journalist continue to misinform the American public and turn them against one of the great industries that helped build this nation, I must ask you one question. Before you, Mr. or Madam Congressman vote to end health care and retirement benefits for 1 million retirees, eliminate 2.5 million of our nation’s jobs, lose the technology that will lead us in the future and create an economic disaster including hundreds of billions of tax dollars lost, I ask this question not in the rhetorical sense. I ask it in the sincere, literal way.

Can you tell me, have you driven a Ford lately?