Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bush Appointee Caught On Tape Offering High-Level Access For Donations To Bush Library

So how much does it cost to get an appointment with Dick Cheney or Condoleezza Rice? About six figures according to an undercover tape showing Homeland Security appointee, Stephen Payne offering high level contacts for money. He is selling the favors to a representative of an exiled leader of Krygystan. The tape was released by the Times of London and can be seen here.

This kind of behavior is rampant in the Bush administration but now it has been caught on tape and with the elections looming, these kind of illegal and unethical transactions make the GOP look not just bad, but criminal!

Second Largest Bank Failure In American History - IndyMac Bank Gone

The situation at Pasadena based IndyMac Bank reminds me of the scenarios my grandmother spoke of during the 1929 market crash. She told me people lined up outside banks demanding their money and banks finally had to shutter their doors and get police to keep people at bay.

Well IndyMac is closing offices and laying off emoloyees and people have been pulling cash out at the rate of $100 million a day. If that's not a run on the bank I don't know what is. The difference between now and 1929 is the FDIC. They have stepped in and siezed control of the failing bank to cover the banks losses for insured depositors. The failure marks the second largest bank failure in American history.

Take a look at the website for the bank. Pretty grim stuff. The FDIC has replaced the site with a one page letter detailing that all deposits of $100,000 and under are federally insured. All that is missing is a footnote, take two asprin and call back in the morning.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pelosi Puts Impeachment Back OnThe Table

Since becoming House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi has tried to calm the rough waters of Capitol Hill. In an effort to return to some sort of collegiality, she entered the office with the statement that impeachment was “off the table” when it came to the Bush administration.

Few Americans would want to approach something as serious as impeachment of the President or Vice-President as cavalierly as the Republicans did with Bill Clinton. From the moment he was sworn in, Clinton faced adversaries in Congress intent on tossing him out by whatever means available. The whole Whitewater affair and the subsequent investigation which cost taxpayers millions of dollars produced nothing of substance. Yet like a dog intent on hanging onto a bone, the Republicans managed to find one of the most trivial reasons for impeachment imaginable.

Now, a sitting President has been shown to have lied many times on matters of national security with grave military consequences for thousands of our soldiers and the congress remains silent. I know I am not the only person to be dumfounded as to why “impeachment is off the table”.

Meanwhile, Dennis Kucinich finally managed to introduce 35 articles of impeachment which are trapped in the Judiciary Committee for the time being, but something is very different this time. Kucinich introduced a “privileged resolution" which will force the House to consider if Bush lied to Congress and the American people in his rationale for invading Iraq and the subsequent occupation.

What is more surprising is that House Speaker Pelosi has said, "My expectation is that there will be some review of that in the committee.” She went on further to say, “This is a Judiciary Committee matter, and I believe we will see some attention being paid to it by the Judiciary Committee.”

She has in effect put impeachment back on the table!

Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers, has said he is reviewing the articles but has not yet indicated whether he intends to hold hearings on them. Then there is the big question of three of these articles which implicate Vice President Dick Cheney and whether he should be impeached as well. If the hearings do take place it will be a historic event. Never before have both the President and Vice President been jointly impeached but this administration is a special case. Cheney wields more power than any other Vice President and as many have noted he seems to make more executive decisions that Bush. In fact Cheney has claimed to be both part of the Executive branch and the Legislative branch since he presides over the Senate.

During an election year it will be difficult for the Congress to approach this matter seriously. The right will try to call it an election year trick and the left will be afraid of dragging America through a painful process that might alienate beleaguered voters. Either way, it will not be a smooth sailing.

Ms Pelosi knew her job would be a tough one when she took it. Being the first female to lead the House of Representatives is a historic position. Now she is starting to look like the kind of woman who is unafraid to wade into the deep political waters and make a few waves.

Bush Lied About Red Cross Torture Report

Bush lied again? Not big news, but this particular lie is big news. Seems Mr. Bush claimed he never read the International Red Cross report on interrogation methods used in CIA detention facilities, where the committee called the American actions as "tantamount to torture". According to a new book released this week by investigative journalist Jane Mayer, Bush as well as Condoleezza Rice knew the contents of the report. They also knew that the information contained could implicate Bush officials in "war crimes".

The stream of lies that has flowed form the White House is beyond disgrace. The Bush administration MUST be held to the same standard as every other president and administration. Impeachment is the constitutional redress for such criminal actions and the US Congress should not hesitate to begin proceedings regardless of Bush's time remaining in office.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Karl Rove Flees The Country To Avoid Testimony

Kucinich Introduces Another Article of Impeachment Against Bush

Cell Phones & Crazy Folks

I was sitting at a Starbucks today when someone outside the window caught my attention. She looked like a sane enough woman, with the exception that she was talking and gesticulating in a conversation with nobody. Her long hair apparently was hiding her Bluetooth headset, but the impression she gave was that of someone who had “gone off her meds”. It’s a sight I have seen many times before and before long it will be unable to distinguish the genuinely mentally disabled folks with those who are just addicted to their Bluetooth headsets.

Just a few hours earlier I had seen the former category of citizen walking across a street. His shirt was open and hanging from his shoulders. A four day growth of beard and the ragged sandals gave the distinct impression he had been sleeping under a bridge somewhere. He was talking and waving his arms, deep in conversation with an invisible someone.

I have to say, being around people like him make me uncomfortable. I never know exactly who they are talking to or what they will do next. As refugees from our failing public health system, the growing number of street people with mental problems seems to be increasing and that bothers me. I know there is treatment that can help people like him, but unless he has access to it, a place to live and some sort of stability in his life he will not be able to stay on the medications. That is not just speculation, but a fact I have had explained to me by a mental health professional.

Both the street person and the woman on the headset have something in common. They both are acting the same way. Both are talking to an unseen presence without regard to the reactions of others who might see them. Both are examples of what could be seen as anti-social behavior. The difference is one has access to health care and technology and the other doesn’t.

I guess you could just pass out Bluetooth headsets to all the street people and then nobody would think they had a problem, but it would only mask the deeper issue. We need a public health system that is really “public”. We need a way for those unfortunate enough to suffer from mental disorders to get help not only from a medical professional but in getting their lives back together. We also need a society that recognizes that putting people out onto the street without access to the tools they need to get better is the sign of a society in decline. A civilized society takes care of each other. A civilized society understands that ignoring problems is not a way to solve them.

Oh yea, and a civilized society does not share their private conversations with anyone within earshot.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New TV Ad - McCain's Timetable For Troop Withdrawal?

Phthalates, Plastic Bottles & My Belly?

I am overweight. I admit it and anyone who sees me would agree. However, there may be a mitigating factor as to why I can't seem to shed the excess fat around my midsection. Other than the fact that I am middle-aged, I have tried exercise and diet and though my weight changes, the belly remains!

Now comes news that the plastic that packages everything from water to frozen food might have a role in my midsection. Phthalates, the chemical compounds that are found in just about everything today have been linked to lower fertility rates, and now, abdominal fat and resistance to insulin. This is a double whammy for a diabetic, which I am not thankfully.

I do have to wonder if the obesity epidemic that our country is having may be as much caused by packaging as by the junk food the plastics hold. A study by the University of Rochester Medical Center published back in 2007 makes some of these connections, yet strangely the media didn't give it much play. I suspect that is because it's a difficult word to spell, "phthalates".

I have a history of being suspicious of plastics. My father was a researcher in hematology and bacteriology. While working at his hospital he found that blood packaged in the then new, plastic blood packets became difficult to correctly type. Without the proper Rh Typing patients can get the wrong kind of blood and that is trouble.

What he found was that the plastic bags leached their plasticizers into the blood product and changed it's Rh Type, furthermore serum stored in plastic bottles also changed it's characteristics over time. Disturbed at this he began doing a very simple study.

He acquired a quantity of plastic containers used for packaging blood and blood products and exposed them to various serums. The results showed a problem was occurring in many of the types of plastics. Additionally, he took diluted quantities of the sterile water that had been exposed to the plastics and injected it into fertile eggs. The results were a very high number of birth defects in the chicks hatched from the eggs.

When this material was presented to the NIH for further study, they politely told him they didn't want to go into it at this time. That was in 1967! Makes you go, "hummmm".

Florida Hospitral Will Let Boy Die Simply Because He Is A Foster Child

John Aravosis at came across a story that needs to be front and center of every news organization in the country. Predictably the same people who protest in front of family planning clinics and jumped on the Terri Schivo bandwagon are silent about this one.

A 15 year old boy in foster care needs a new liver. The hospital and doctors have decided that since he is in foster care and has a history of problems with foster families that his life is not worth saving. In the words of the Miani Herald, "Shands Hospital in Gainesville removed the boy, 15, from a waiting list for organ recipients after administrators determined the boy's unstable living conditions make him a poor candidate for a transplant." In other words toss the kid, he's poor and an orphan.

When did our country turn into England in the 17th century? When did we lose the atitude that every life is worth saving? Instead, only the rich, those with stable home lives and those with lots of insurance are on the short list for transplants. The rest of you rabble, well tough luck. You should have been born into wealthier families.

Read the whole story and then write your congressperson and the president and demand that we stop discarding human beings for lack of a stable home or insurance!

McCain Radio Ad A Pack Of Lies - But Isn't It OK If They Are In Spanish?

I guess the McCain camp figures that Spanish speaking residents of Florida are either stupid or just uninformed. His latest radio ad in Spanish is filled with false figures and outright lies.

The gist of the ad is McCain's support for the Colombian Free Trade agreement and how it will be a boost for Florida's economy. has the details and the real figures.

Bible Theme Parks In Nashville - A Second Coming!

If the Jesus theme park in Florida, The Holy Lands, wasn't enough, now Nashville may be host to two of the bible-themed attractions. Bible Land USA, is the latest religious family experience.

The proposed park will include an IMAX theater with a flyover of ancient Jerusalem, the Exodus Experience, a water based attraction (of course), and of course Noah's Ark. The last attraction is really an old standard for amusement parks of the 1920's. The last surviving Noah's Ark fun house still operates at Kennywood Park in Pennsylvania.

Trinity Broadcasting has also announced plans to build a Bible themed park in the city that once hosted Opryland. Trinity already purchased the Florida "Holy Lands" attraction.

It is my hope that this park will not include the daily "crucifixion" that is enacted in the Florida park. There, families can share in the torture and death of Jesus every afternoon. Sounds like a great family experience, for the Addams Family at least.

New Spinning Skyscraper Proposed In Dubai

I have always liked interesting architecture. I think it all started when I received a book about modern architecture as a child. In it the buildings of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright stirred my imagination. Now, I am stirred again by some really different architecture coming out of Dubai.

The emirate is already the home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai still in construction and already reaching 1,831.5 feet in height. Now comes news of a new and strikingly different building. it will break records and conventions in very different ways.

Some call it the spinning tower. At 1,378-feet it will not be the tallest, but will be the strangest building in the world. Each floor of the ultra-luxury apartment building will be capable of rotating independently. The floors will be controlled by residents and can provide a continuously varying view of the surroundings. This motion will give the building a continuously changing profile.

I don't find this novelty surprising in Dubai. The country has become a theme park for the ultra rich and architects and designers are flocking there to pitch their most outrageous ideas. With a seemingly endless cash reserve the tiny emirate is awash with new construction and tourism.

I have to wonder when the fantasy will end? The vast wealth is oil-based and should their supply dry up, Dubai will be hard pressed to continue it's rampant construction. Additionally, there is the problem of the region. One or two disputes with some faction that doesn't agree with their policies or religious leanings and the place could become another Baghdad.

For tourists, it may seem a wonderful destination, but lately there are reports of patrols on the beaches looking for immoral behavior. There have already been arrests of alleged homosexuals, could islamic fundamentalism be far behind? Who knows?

I suspect once Dick Cheney retires and moves there things will become clearer.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

G8 Leaders Dine on 18 Course Meal While Discussing World Hunger

And speaking of fat cats! The G8 summit discussed the problem if the global food crisis. You know what a crisis is, a critical shortage of food as in starvation. They dined on an 18 course meal! Glad to know they can identify with the problem.

Years ago I attended an event called a World Feast. It was promoted as a sampling or typical foods from around the world. As we entered the room, some people, a very few, were given gold tickets and escorted to a head table, raised above the room on a platform. Here they were served a sumptuous feast with plenty of wine and lavish proportions.

The rest of us were seated at simple tables and served a bowl of rice and a glass of water.

This was the point, to show how most of the world eats and how few people consume most of the worlds food.

Perhaps that would be a better meal for the G8 to dine on?

UK Daily Mail printed the menu. Here.

Iraq Government Wants US Out Of Iraq

Remember back when President Bush was asked how long we would be in Iraq and he responded with a declaration that we would be there as long as the Iraqi government saw fit. Well guess what? The following is from a press release by Center for American Progress.

On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki raised the prospect of "setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops as part of negotiations over a new security agreement with Washington." During an official visit to Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates, Maliki told a gathering of Arab ambassadors, "Today, we are looking at the necessity of terminating the foreign presence on Iraqi lands and restoring full sovereignty."

Sovereignty, that was the word Bush had so much trouble defining in one of his speeches, I guess now I know why. The Bush administration seems content to occupy Iraq. As many people in that country see it, we are trying to colonize Iraq. Perhaps the best insight into the whole thing was the first name for the military action that started all this. At first the Pentagon called it "Operation Iraqi Liberation" but then someone saw that the acronym would be OIL. I guess that was too close to the truth for even the Bush bunch.

Huckabee Loved Racist Jesse Helms!

While trying to smear Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee spoke lovingly about the dead bigot Jesse Helms. He spoke of how he admired Helms whose history of being racist and homophobic are legendary.

"The thing that many of us loved and admired about Jesse Helms was that, here was a guy, he didn’t care what you thought about his view, but you were going to always know where he stood because he stood for something and he stood clearly."

Well Mike, I always knew where Hitler stood but I didn't admire him!

G8 Fails Climate Change Challenge

The G8, acting much like a corporate ostrich has once again done nothing about climate change.Like the big corporations such as oil companies, they have pushed the idea of reducing greenhouse emissions off onto a future generation. The problem is, by then it will be too late.

The result was a "target" of reducing emissions worldwide by 50% by 2050. The Kyoto Protocol sought a 5% reduction below the 1990 levels for each country. This "target" simply pushes the problem back and refuses to take immediate action.

Though there was much discussion of how to help India and China as well as other developing countries, nothing of substance really got done. Typical!

Monday, July 07, 2008

McCain Becoming Senile? Victory In Iraq Will Pay Off Our Debts?

After watching and listening to John McCain for a few weeks, I have come to the conclusion he must be suffering from early-onset dementia. I mean first he wants us in Iraq for 100 years and now he says the "victory in Iraq" will somehow magically pay off our deficit.

It certainly has paid off any debts the defense contractors had, but as far as helping out national debt, I am befuddled. I have to believe he has been having trouble focusing on reality. Of course that is a problem all Republicans have. Maybe he really is getting senile?

Indict Bush For Murder - Former Prosecutor Says

Vincent Bugliosi thinks George Bush should be prosecuted for the murder of our troops in a needless war. He gives a detailed account and rationale in his new book, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.”

The book seems to be pretty good, but right now no cable news organization will touch an interview with Bugliosi, the man who prosecuted the Manson Family and author of several best selling books.

Get the word out about his new book, somebody has to hold Bush accountable.

Gasoline Shortages in Iraq - Who'd a Thunk?

The situation in Iraq for the civilians living there is abysmal. I just read a post from my friend Muhammad, a dentist in Baghdad. There was a sandstorm going on a couple of days ago, so his frustration level was pretty high, but the story is sobering.

Electricity has become so scare in Baghdad that there is none for several days at a time. Gasoline is almost non-existent. Lines at gas stations stretch for blocks and prices are through the roof. This in a country where American oil companies are getting big deals to drill and export oil. If any Iraqi ever wondered why the US was occupying Iraq, the answer is pretty clear.

Read his blog and then complain about the $4.00 a gallon gas here.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

4th Of July Fireworks At Fair Park - Dallas

It is fast becoming a civic tradition in Dallas to spend the evening of the 4th of July at Fair Park. This year, like last the city put on a big Independence Day party and thousands of Dallasites attended.

Fair Park, site of the yearly State Fair of Texas is one of the largest collection of Art Deco exhibition buildings in the world. Most of the park was rebuilt for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exhibition, often noted as one of the unofficial world's fairs of the 1930's. The park is spacious, beautiful and right in the middle of town. As a side note, the park is something I know a lot about since I did a documentary film on the fair and the behind the sceens activities that make it run.

Sitting in our portable canvas chairs, my friends and I enjoyed the evening performance by the Dallas Wind Symphony followed by a fireworks show put on by the famous Grucci family of Long Island.

The music was a medley of every patriotic song we could imagine, and the fireworks were spectacular. The Gruccis have a way with pyrotechnics. Their shells are delicate and -surprising. The multi-color bursts and the multi-stage and color shells got a fair share of "oohs" and "ahhs" But the brilliant orange and rich lilacs they achieve were really art painted in fire across the sky.

It was not the most elaborate show I have seen the Grucci's do, but for a free city sponsored event it was damned good. We didn't have time to getdown to the midway where for the first time in many years rides were open for the occasion, but I understand it was fun as well.

I really like the fact that our city is starting to have these kinds of events. They are not only fun, but they make me feel like I am actually part of a community. The variety of citizens that turned out was wonderful. Rich, poor and everyone in between shared the common experience of the music and fireworks and enjoying one of our city's treasures, Fair Park.