Monday, September 29, 2008

You control what you'll see on Nov 4

You control what you'll see on election day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Creditcardholders Bill of Rights- Leveling the Field

You might think that the banking industry would have gotten the message that consumers are sick and tired of the greed and arrogance that has been so pervasive and invasive in our lives, but you would be wrong.

At the same time that the banks are lining up to get their piece of the $700 billion dollar bailout pie, they are busy condemning the House of Representatives' passage of a "Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights". HR 5244 would amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan. The resolution which passed 312-112 says "no creditor may increase any annual percentage rate of interest applicable to the existing balance on a credit card account of the consumer under an open end consumer credit plan" “existing balance defined“, "Treatment of existing balances following rate increase" and "Limitation on certain fees". It's all good for the consumers, well, as much good as we've seen from a consumer point of view in a long while.

With the current environment in the banking industry, you might think that the banks would shut up, sit in a corner like the cockroaches they are and wait for the current meltdown to pass, even for a little while.

It's no surprise that the Bush administration opposes the legislation. David Lazarus of the LA Times reports the disappointed reactions from the banking industry.
American Bankers Assn. President Edward Yingling issued a statement denouncing the move. He said the bill would "increase the cost of credit for consumers and small businesses across the country, result in less access to credit for consumers and businesses alike, and may further roil the securities markets -- all at a time when our economy can least afford it."

JPMorgan Chase & Co., "In today's turbulent economic times, consumers deserve a careful and balanced approach when considering potential changes to consumer credit and the credit card industry," the bank said in a statement. "Consumers have benefited from a competitive marketplace that allows for pricing based upon risk."
It seems that the banking industry hasn't gotten the memo that the party is over. It's time to level the playing field and give the consumer's at least a fair advantage. Wall Street needs a complete makeover and I'm glad that Congress drew this line in the sand.

The 312-112 vote was predictably on party lines with only one Democrat voting against this legislation. Wonder what Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's (D - SD) excuse was? The House has spoken, what will the Senate do for consumers? Passing the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights is the least they can do with the $700 billion bailout they have burdened us with.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I have a Bracelet, too

The McCain campaign proudly and prematurely announced "McCain Wins Debate" with an online ad in the Wall Street Journal, published early Friday morning. McCain hasn't had the best week, so I figured the ad might be wrong as I sat down and watched these men face each other, one of whom will be our next president. As the debate ended, I was more than convinced that the ad was just another in the many missteps of McCain campaign. (Transcript of the debate can be found here)

They covered foreign policy and they even gave a fair amount of time to economic policy, which considering the week we've had may have given well needed insight into how these men may run the financial ship of the United States. On a personal note, Obama seemed relaxed and confident, while McCain seemed grumpy, disrespectful and patronizing as he would not look Obama in the eye nor even refer to him by name.

I'll leave the other policy discussions to others more qualified than me. I was interested in the discussions of Iraq and the definite differences in the way each of the candidates will address the conflicts in Iraq & Afghanistan. Clearly, McCain thinks things are going well in Iraq and that the surge is bringing us closer to victory (whatever that means). McCain accused Obama of voting to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is a hot button for those of us who want to end the occupation. This is a tactic to scare the general population into thinking that Obama doesn't support the troops. Fortunately Obama had a quick and proper response I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open- ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops. He added what I've said is we should end this war responsibly. With regards to Iraq & Afghanistan, if you vote for McCain, you'll get 4 more years of the same blundering foreign policy brought to us by the Bush administration. How many thousand s more will die and be wounded? How many more families will be changed forever because of those same policies?

It didn't surprise me that McCain brought up the story of the KIA bracelet that he was wearing, presented to him by the mother of Spc Matthew Stanley who was killed in Iraq in December 2006. It also didn't surprise me that Gold Star families who McCain has met along the trail have told McCain "I want you to do everything -- promise me one thing, that you'll do everything in your power to make sure that my son's death was not in vain. And they all say to me that we don't want defeat." I know many Gold Star families who feel the same way. I do not.

So, I was pleased when Obama responded with I've got a bracelet, too, from the mother of Sergeant Ryan David Jopeck, given to me in Green Bay. She asked me, can you please make sure another mother is not going through what I'm going through.

I've got a bracelet, too. Mine honors the memory of my son, 1Lt Ken Ballard, who was killed in Najaf, Ira on 5.30.2004. I am thoroughly, 100% in the same camp as Ryan's mom. People have no clue what it is like to lose a loved one in war and they don't want to; no one should. But I make damned sure they do if they talk to me. Like Tracy Jopek, I never want another mother to know this pain. Gold Star families are just as divided about this endless occupation of Iraq as the rest of the country. While I disagree with those Gold Star Families who want the war and the dying to continue and who want victory, whatever that means, I understand that they need a reason to get up in the morning, just like I do and it is not a debate I choose to have with them.

While John McCain presents his POW/ veteran support as impeccable; in truth he offers very little support to veteran's issues. On the campaign trail he frequently speaks of his pride in the military as he did this evening. "I know the veterans. I know them well. And I know that they know that I'll take care of them. And I've been proud of their support and their recognition of my service to the veterans. " Except those statements are wrong. McCain might think he supports the troops, but his voting record is appalling and disrespectful of veterans.

Veterans for Common Sense reports his voting record on Vets issues since 2001
"not that many really, truly know just how horrific his voting record is when it comes to the troops. And it is pretty consistent – whether it is for armor and equipment, for veteran’s health care, for adequate troop rest or anything that actually, you know, supports our troops.

John McCain skipped close to a dozen votes on Iraq, and on at least another 10 occasions, he voted against arming and equipping the troops, providing adequate rest for the troops between deployments and for health care or other benefits for veterans.

In mid 2007, Senator Reid noted that McCain missed 10 of the past 14 votes on Iraq. However, here is a summary of a dozen votes (two that he missed and ten that he voted against) with respect to Iraq, funding for veterans or for troops, including equipment and armor. I have also included other snippets related to the time period when the vote occurred.

September 2007: McCain voted against the Webb amendment calling for adequate troop rest between deployments. At the time, nearly 65% of people polled in a CNN poll indicted that "things are going either moderately badly or very badly in Iraq.

July 2007: McCain voted against a plan to drawdown troop levels in Iraq. At the time, an ABC poll found that 63% thought the invasion was not worth it, and a CBS News poll found that 72% of respondents wanted troops out within 2 years.

March 2007: McCain was too busy to vote on a bill that would require the start of a drawdown in troop levels within 120 days with a goal of withdrawing nearly all combat troops within one year. Around this time, an NBC News poll found that 55% of respondents indicated that the US goal of achieving victory in Iraq is not possible. This number has not moved significantly since then.

February 2007: For such a strong supporter of the escalation, McCain didn’t even bother to show up and vote against a resolution condemning it. However, at the time a CNN poll found that only 16% of respondents wanted to send more troops to Iraq (that number has since declined to around 10%), while 60% said that some or all should be withdrawn. This number has since gone up to around 70%.

June 2006: McCain voted against a resolution that Bush start withdrawing troops but with no timeline to do so.

May 2006: McCain voted against an amendment that would provide $20 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for health care facilities.

April 2006: McCain was one of only 13 Senators to vote against $430,000,000 for the Department of Veteran Affairs for Medical Services for outpatient care and treatment for veterans.

March 2006: McCain voted against increasing Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.

March 2004: McCain once again voted for abusive tax loopholes over veterans when he voted against creating a reserve fund to allow for an increase in Veterans' medical care by $1.8 billion by eliminating abusive tax loopholes. Jeez, McCain really loves those tax loopholes for corporations, since he voted for them over our veterans' needs.

October 2003: McCain voted to table an amendment by Senator Dodd that called for an additional $322,000,000 for safety equipment for United States forces in Iraq and to reduce the amount provided for reconstruction in Iraq by $322,000,000.

April 2003: McCain urged other Senate members to table a vote (which never passed) to provide more than $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment in Iraq related to a shortage of helmets, tents, bullet-proof inserts, and tactical vests.

August 2001: McCain voted against increasing the amount available for medical care for veterans by $650,000,000. To his credit, he also voted against the 2001 Bush tax cuts, which he now supports making permanent, despite the dire financial condition this country is in, and despite the fact that he indicated in 2001 that these tax cuts unfairly benefited the very wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

Let us not forget that John McCain, self described friend of veterans also did not support and did not show up to vote for the new GI Bill that was passed earlier this year. He walked lockstep with George Bush calling the bill too extravagant and that it would hurt military retention. Because if you offered a benefit that might offset the low pay and delay in career path, people might get out of the military? How about if you offered a benefit that would offset the low pay and delay in career path, they just might consider joining the military in the first place, serve honorably and then get on with their lives with thanks from a grateful nation?

I'll ask again as I have so often- Who really supports the troops? Campaign rhetoric should not keep us from the truth.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wall Street vs Main Street

We American taxpayers are now the proud owners of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and AIG at a cost of $700 Billion dollars, whether we like it or not. At $2000 for every man, woman & child in this country, I wonder what we are getting.

They say we are buying some financial stability, but that's hard for those of us within shouting distance of retirement to believe. We are going to be paying for this deregulation party for years. We really need to ask "what's in it for me?" Without taxpayer protection, it's still business as usual for the Bush White House.

There are lots of details flying, too many for most people to absorb. What is spin, what is real? Legislators are in DC working the details and some expected their solution by the time the opening bell rings on Wall Street Monday morning. That's all well and good and I am glad they are putting in the time to try and get this country back on track. Let this crises not be handled with the hysterical way of the USA Patriot Act. Safeguarding America, my ass! So while the horses are out of the barn, let's bring them back in in an orderly, thoughtful fashion with the least damaging effect on the least amount of taxpayers.

We haven't heard enough about executive compensation, but I hope that it will be addressed. I fear that that will be swept away as so many other important details are in crises like this. I don't care what their hiring package said, they should default on their golden parachute as much as they defaulted on their implied trust to the institutions that they led. If we taxpayers are to carry this financial burden for years or maybe decades, shouldn't they do the same? There is hope that some are focusing on just that. Senator Charles Schumer too when he appeared on "Fox News Sunday", saying "we need changes related to housing, we need to put the taxpayer first ahead of bondholders, shareholders". House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass. "I don't want the American taxpayer to get this bad debt and then the guy (whose company once held the bad loans) gets millions of dollars on his way out the door,".

Adam Davidson at Planet Money over at NPR takes a look at the White House Bailout plan (h/t to Larisa Alexandrovna at at-Largely). Davidson calls this bailout one of the biggest peacetime transfers of power from Congress to the Administration in history. He points out one of the more scary parts of the bailout proposal. Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency. The Bush administration is up to it's usual tricks, business as usual, business that has tragically and adversely affect the middle class for the last 8 years.

George Bush was wrong when he said that the problems on Wall Street first showed up in the area of subprime mortgages. Those problems have been simmering for years and years with recklessness, corruption and greed while Washington did nothing to stop it. If you think this pushback is overblown, consider this article from the UK TimesOnline , Staff at Lehman’s New York office who helped to cause the world’s biggest corporate bankruptcy are to share in a $2.5 billion bonanza. Why is this not being reported in the US corporate media?

It's no surprise that the Bush administration still expects US citizens to sit back and do nothing, but this is the fight of our lives and a fight for our future. Please contact your representatives at Senate switchboard (202) 224-3121 and House of Representatives switchboard (202) 224-3121. And if a phone call is too much to do, at least take a look at this online petition from Credo calling for "No Blank Check for Wall Street


Friday, September 19, 2008

Families Of Fallen Soldiers Sound Off On McCain-Palin

Special thanks today to Marlene Phillips who wrote the post called Families Of Fallen Soldiers Sound Off On McCain-Palin on The Huffington Post today. Also, special thanks to my friends Jeff, Tracy, Sue, Gilda and Jane who offered their insight to what it feels like to be a Gold Star Family member, someone whose loved one died while in service to the country and our thoughts about the Republican ticket for this presidential campaign. I appreciate that Marlene let me add my $.02, as well. And finally, here's to Ken, Seth, Alex, Evan, Nick, Jesse and nearly 5000 US troops who have died in Iraq & Afghanistan. We will not let them be forgotten; I hope you will help us in that effort.

After reading my last blog post, Jeff from Arizona asked if I would be interested in interviewing Gold Star Families from across the country, that is, families who have lost sons and daughters fighting in Iraq. My sincere thanks to all those who volunteered to be interviewed. These people have a lot to say. They hope America will hear them.

Jane wasn't raised in a political household in Southern California; she describes it simply as a "military family." She lost her 24-year-old son Evan in July, 2003, when he was killed in action on the perimeter of an oil field. She described Evan as "a beautiful man with a wonderful sense of humor who had a passion for music," and recalled "his way of focusing on an individual, of making them feel as though his world revolved around them. This is the thing everyone will remember about him, the fact that he made such an indelible impression on everyone who met him." Evan, she said, "was everyone's best friend. Many of the people who have spoken of him, whether from school, sports or the Army have referred to Evan as their best friend. He was a gifted musician, a gifted student, he adored his little brother, and loved his wife and family deeply." Jane is following the current presidential race closely, and for her it's not just politics as usual. It's personal. She will vote Democratic although she expressed qualms about the Obama/Biden ticket, citing Biden's support of the war in Iraq. But those qualms are minor compared to how she feels about the Republican ticket.

"John McCain and Sarah Palin are scary people," Sue said emphatically. "I believe they will make sure our Constitution is lost forever." The thought of seeing another Republican in the White House terrifies her and makes her angry. "When is America going to wake up to the fact that our economy has been shattered by the cost of the occupation of Iraq? We are allowing our young men and women to be killed off in an illegal war, we've given up our privacy and other basic freedoms and our planet will not be inhabitable by future generations. In 8 short years the Republican party has completed the destruction of our democracy."

Tracy is an academic adviser for a state university in Maryland. When asked to describe her son Nick, she replied, "Nick was incredibly charismatic. He always had friends around him, partly because he was always looking out for the underdog." Nick wanted to be a Marine "from the time he was in middle school" and he died as a Marine in the battle of Fallujah. "A sniper," she said, "he was shot in the head and killed by a sniper." After the death of her son, Tracy decided to run for office, partly "as a way to make the world a better place, as Nick was trying to do." She's always voted ("those who don't vote have no right to complain"), and while not always voting Democratic, this year she supports the Democratic presidential candidate "fervently." Like Jane, Tracy sees the link between our economic troubles and the war in Iraq: "We have spent so much money we don't have on this war that we have completely ruined the US economy as well as that of most of the rest of the world." Tracy described why she supports Barack Obama, saying, " he's very quick and intelligent. He has a good grasp of the issues and an ability to find the nugget of truth. I think some of his ideas may seem pie-in-the sky, but I think if we aim very high we will reach farther than if we just aim for what we know we can accomplish." In contrast, she considers John McCain "bumbling and incompetent" and when asked if she had serious concerns about any of the four candidates acting as Commander in Chief, she replied succinctly, "You bet: Palin first. McCain second."

A business owner in New York, Sue recalls her son Seth as "a kind, warm-hearted individual. His love was his family, his mustang and people." What made her laugh the most was "how rough and tumble he could be, but always done with a smirk on his face: he was mischievous." But the one thing everyone will remember about Seth, Sue said, "is simple: he never left you without saying 'I Love You.' Those were his last words, on the last call home." Seth was killed in Iraq in 2004, on what Sue referred to as "a suicide mission, " and she remembers what he told her before returning to Iraq for the last time. "Seth said, 'Mom, we will never win this war. The people do not want us there.'" While admitting she hasn't always voted, like Tracy and Jane, Sue says she's following this presidential campaign very closely. She spoke approvingly of Obama ("I like his war stance, and his philosophy on economics.") but had nothing good to say about the Republican ticket, especially John McCain. "He's Bush again," Sue said with disgust, adding, "what has McCain done so far for the veterans except take benefits away from them:?" Sue called Palin "a joke that I hope the American people will not fall into, especially the women who originally supported Clinton. That would be a mistake; she is not Hillary." She thinks Palin was picked because McCain "needed a women to do all the dirty work for him," adding, "she's a little lady that knows nothing but thinks she knows everything." Come November, Sue will be voting for Obama.

A commercial airline pilot, Jeff spent 21 years as a fighter pilot with the United States Air Force, and his family has a rich military history: "I had nine aunts and uncles; all but three served in WWII. My aunt and my grandmother were 'Rose the Riveters,' building B-17s at the Boeing facility in Wichita Kansas." His son loved to cook, "Jesse started cooking at age nine!" Jeff recalled, and he wanted to follow in his father's military footsteps, joining the junior ROTC in middle school. Although diagnosed with leukemia, Jesse still "dreamed of becoming a soldier," and was serving in Balad, Iraq, as a driver with the Army Reserve when he suffered a relapse. He died in Arizona in 2007. Already active politically, the loss of his son strengthened Jeff's resolve to "work for candidates that are best for the community and country." Jeff is a strong backer of Barack Obama, calling him "inspiring. Obama seems to represent the values that will help bring out the best of the county." But Jeff reserves his strongest words for Sarah Palin, and they were not complimentary. "Palin is very inexperienced. Examining her resume you will find a blank slate. No job experience at all." And the decorated fighter pilot added, "The thought that she could very easily be the one who will send our sons and daughters to fight more failing military-backed foreign relations, it chills me. Considering her complete lack of experience, that would be worse than having a bartender run my airline."

Karen also comes from a military family; she was a "Military brat" and now describes herself as "a proud Gold Star Mom." Her son, Ken, was a 4th generation Army officer, and he was Karen's only child. Having raised him by herself from the time he was 10 months old, Karen movingly called Ken "my grounding, my north star." Karen recalled her son's "great sense of humor. He lit up a room whenever he entered; people always knew they were in for adventure when he was around." She said Ken loved music, "any kind of music, as long as it was loud - metal, country, opera, classical, rock and roll. He often played music full blast from his Abrams tank as they patrolled the streets of Iraq. His guys told me it was like being in a movie." The two were very close, said Karen: "I made sure Ken knew how much he was loved and he made me feel the same." Ken was 26 when he died in 2004. "We were told Ken was killed by small arms fire," Karen said. "But 15 months after Ken was killed, the Army came to my house to tell me that Ken had not died the way they told me. In fact, he was killed by the accidental discharge of the unmanned M240 machine gun on his tank when it brushed against a tree branch as the tank was maneuvering the streets to return to their camp." This year Karen is more than just interested in the presidential campaign, saying honestly, "I am obsessed with it. The results of the 2000 election put into place policies that would cost me the life of my son."

Karen is unequivocal on the importance of this campaign, stating, "This election is life and death to me." Like Jane, Karen voiced some concerns about Barack Obama, saying he's "too close to the center" for her, but added, "I think he will collaborate more than others and certainly give the world a better face of America." When asked her opinion of John McCain, Karen checked off the reasons she disliked him: "3rd Bush term, intolerant, hawk, disrespectful of Vets, particularly this current generation of Veterans. In many ways he will be more destructive than Bush." And Sarah Palin? "Pistol packing, moose hunting, anti-choice, anti-women's issues, anti-environment, disrespectful, mean, power abusing, fundamentalist religious fanatic. She is Cheney and Bush in a dress. Need I continue?" Like the others interviewed, Karen described the idea of Palin as Commander in Chief as "frightening. It frightens me both for our country and our military. Her shoot from the hip attitude, lack of any depth of foreign policy experience or even curiosity ,and her heavy reliance on wisdom from God, rather than experts and empirical evidence, scares me." Karen has always voted, and so did her son, adding: "Because Ken felt voting was a responsibility and a privilege, he even voted from Iraq." And with so much on the line she's not just voting for Obama, she said, she's working to get him elected.

Gilda is a school teacher in Maryland. Like Karen, Gilda lost her only child in Iraq, in an explosion in Al Anbar province. Alex was 28, recently married, and on his second deployment; Gilda said when looking at photos of that second deployment she could clearly see "the sheer sense of responsibility that weighed on my son. He would not have gone if he'd had a choice but he knew he had a job to do and he was not going to shirk his responsibility." She recalls how much Alex loved to play the guitar, and how "he would gather his friends here at the house for jam sessions, and everyone would end up at our table for dinner afterward. Our house was often filled with the laughter and music of these childhood friends of my son." With heartbreaking candor, Gilda continues, "His father and I have not begun to cope with this void in our lives. It's been impossible to come anywhere close to accepting that he lies across the river buried in Arlington cemetery, and for reasons that we have not come to grips with." Gilda has channeled her grief and anger into this presidential campaign, with her major issues being, "the war in Iraq and benefits for Iraq Vets, and bringing our country back on the right course." Originally a Hillary Clinton supporter, she says Barack Obama "inspires me, his words make me think that in all this darkness we have lived, that in all this suffering we have experienced, there is a hope for the future of this country of ours." Obama, she continues, "would be able to lead the country out of the disaster of the last 8 years, the so-called 'Bush Doctrine,'" and Gilda's a strong supporter of his running mate, saying "Joe Biden could very well serve as President if need be. He strikes me as sincere and genuine, a man who has experienced tremendous personal loss who does not use it to make points, a man who has the empathy, intelligence and experience to fill in as President." With an obvious reference to Sarah Palin, Gilda added: "THAT is how a vp candidate has to be regarded." She calls the Palin selection "the most appalling, disingenuous political event I have ever witnessed in my life," adding, "I am in tremendous fear of someone as unreflective and plainly incompetent as Sarah Palin becoming our Commander in Chief."

But she had even harsher words for Palin's running mate. "What sort of character can a man possess who is willing to back pedal on so many important issues simply to fit the Republican party line and gain the office of president? Then there is the other nagging problem that this man is not fit to be president; a man with a fuse that can be blown with so little provocation has no business in the position of 'leader of the free world.' A man who would banter about bombing another country cannot ever be allowed in this position of such power. A man whose judgment in picking a vice presidential candidate solely for her ability to draw votes to his sagging popularity shows his incompetence as a leader, let alone anyone with military experience. It will be a dark day for our country if McCain is elected." Gilda lashed out at McCain's treatment of veterans: "McCain clearly is not a man of his word. Here is a veteran, a POW, who has voted against veterans benefits, cynically explaining that if you give them too many benefits they're going to leave the military. It is no mystery why so many military contributions go to Obama." Like the other families interviewed, Gilda's choice for president is influenced by her own loss. "For my family, this election has tremendous meaning. We lost our son, in essence, because the candidate that was chosen for us by the Supreme Court in 2000 was an incompetent."

Gilda added one last comment. "The American people are again faced with another opportunity to make their voices heard," she said. "Let us hope they reflect on whom they choose to lead the world."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nobody Knows War but the McCain Family

It's been another week with a one-two punch, slapdown for our military and the ones who love them. This week, the insults are courtesy of the current Commander in Chief and a surrogate for the Republican who wants to be the next Commander in Chief. One hopes that the leader of the US Armed Forces would respect the men and women who volunteered to serve their country, but apparently, it just doesn't cross the mind of George Bush. The 43rd President of the US has shown his arrogance and disrespect for the troops time and time again. We were shocked back in July 2003 when Bush taunted Al Quaida by telling them to "Bring it On" inspiring hundreds of thousands of soldiers he theoretically leads.

In an interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday night, Bob Woodward discussed his new book, The War Within with reporter Scott Pelley. Woodward revealed the strife between President Bush and the commanders in Baghdad in 2006. The Washington Post posted some transcripts from the book here

Gen. George Casey, the Iraq commander throughout 2006, came to believe that the president didn't understand the very nature of the war. Bush regularly asked about body counts, as if only killing enough of the enemy would lead to victory. The president insisted he understood the nature of the war, whatever Casey might have thought. "I mean, of all people to understand that, it's me," he said.
President Bush: You know, what frustrated me is that from my perspective it looked like that we were taking casualties without fighting back because our commanders are loath to talk about, you know, our battlefield victories.
The president insists he was not preoccupied by body counts, but simply asked for numbers on occasion to be certain that U.S. troops were fighting.

And you were asking questions. "Well, how many have we killed?"

President Bush: I ask that on occasion to find out whether or not we're fighting back.

Woodward: Okay.

President Bush: Because the perception is, is that our guys are dying and they're not. Because we don't put out numbers. We don't have a tally. On the other hand, if I'm sitting here watching the casualties come in, I'd at least like to know whether or not our soldiers are fighting.<

For George Bush, to insinuate that the US troops weren't fighting (hard enough) is an insult to members of the military who he deployed to Iraq under difficult conditions and flimsier reasoning.

Watch CBS Videos Online

As the mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2004, I am outraged that a Commander in Chief, who has never served a day in combat, would question the commitment of our fighting military and their commanders, especially from 6000 miles away. President Bush has frequently stated that he relies on his generals to tell him what they need in Iraq, but this is another example of the president marching to the beat of his own drummer.

The number 2 punch comes from Meghan McCain, daughter of proclaimed "famous war hero", Republican presidential candidate, John McCain. On the Today Show, in an interview, she defends accusations against her father that he doesn't "get it". Meghan responds "No one knows what war is like other than my family. Period." Oh yeah? How about the 4155 US families of dead troops from Iraq? How about the 584 US families of dead troops from Afghanistan? How about the families of troops who committed suicide either while in theater or after their return home? How about the the families of the more than 1.6 million troops who have served in Iraq & Afghanistan since 2001? And how about the nearly 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians or the 4 million displaced Iraqi's?

I have no doubt that Meghan's father's time in a POW camp affected the family in many ways. Meghan, your family is only one family who has been affected by this war- some more than the McCain's, some less, but your family isn't the the only one who knows what war is like. PERIOD.

I'll take my apology now, Meghan, and while you're at it, stay off the campaign trail until you can figure out how to respect the sacrifice made by millions of troops and their families over the years. Playing the POW card isn't any more becoming on you than it is on your father.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where the Presidential Campaigns stand

If, as John McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis says, "This election is not about issues" then what is it about? The Republican campaign wants to talk about lipstick and not legislation. They want to talk about sexism and not Social Security. They want to talk about pigs and not PTSD; and so it goes..

As annoying as Governor Sarah Palin is to me, I've got an open mind and I am really trying to listen to what she has to say to see if there really is anything about the stories flying out of Alaska. I want to know how the Republican VP nominee feels about foreign policy, health care, education, taxes, the environment, Social Security; you know, all that boring stuff. Sarah Palin is drinking the Republican koolaid and is regurgitating the party line, which is probably just fine with the McCain campaign.
So far, I haven't heard an original line out of Palin's mouth on the campaign trail, just cut from her speech at the convention in St Paul and paste it in Fairfax. Rinse & repeat. It's time to take Palin out of her gilded cage to see how she handles the pressure of live questioning. If she's as good as they say, then she'll do fine. If not, we'll see what kind of VP she will make.

On Sunday, Chris Wallace from Fox News asked Rick Davis what her availability to the media will be, stating that she
has not answered a single question from the national media. When is she going to agree to an interview?, Davis responds she will be available to the news media when and if we decide that that is going to be the case. (my emphasis- IF we decide....oy!)

So, it's about time someone talks about the issues. The CBS Evening News has launched a series called "Where They Stand". CBS News will be devoting a large part of our broadcasts between now and Nov. 4 to telling you where the candidates stand on major issues - from the war in Iraq to health insurance to education … and a lot more. Each piece will be an in-depth look at the issues facing the 44th president. The inaugural story covered where each candidate stands on personal taxes.

On Thursday night, Lara Logan, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent will focus on each candidate's Iraq strategy. Lara Logan is a tell-it-like-it-is, no holds barred reporter who has a fierce determination to enlighten the American public with what's going on in Iraq. She feels responsible for Americans not understanding what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. We can handle the truth, so I hope she is able to ask the questions she wants to.

With 55 days more until election day, we cannot hear too many facts. It seems that this series on CBS is trying to do just that.

Women Say No to Sarah Palin

I'm tired of hearing about the PUMA's, disenfranchised Hillary supporters, and Democratic women who have gone to the dark side and will be voting for the Republican ticket. Frankly, I think the polls are overblown. I do not know of a pro-choice, Democratic woman who will be voting for the Republican ticket, especially after the introduction of Sarah Palin as the VP candidate. Governor Palin views on the issues are further from mine than even those of George Bush and she does not represent me. That being said, as much as I do not trust the polls, I also am concerned with the big Republican machine and who is behind it. We are only seeing the beginnings of their tactics and we must be diligent.

When I received an email regarding this campaign, I see this as one way to get women's voices out to balance the polls. I encourage women to forward this information widely. If you want to see some of the responses that have been posted, go to the associated blog. Once I figure out something profound and clever to say, I'll be posting; I hope you'll join me in this important call to action.


Women Say No to Sarah Palin

Friends and compatriots,

We are writing to you because of the fury and dread we have felt since the announcement of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. We believe that this terrible decision has surpassed mere partisanship, and that it is a dangerous farce-on the part of a pandering and rudderless Presidential candidate-that has a real possibility of becoming fact.

Perhaps like us, as American women, you share the fear of what Ms. Palin and her professed beliefs and proven record could lead to for ourselves and for our present or future daughters. To date, she is against sex education, the pro-choice platform, environmental protection, alternative energy development, freedom of speech (as mayor she wanted to ban books and attempted to fire the librarian who stood against her), gun control, the separation of church and state, and polar bears. To say nothing of her complete lack of real preparation to become the second-most-powerful person on the planet.

We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin's political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we've so demonstrably benefited from.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

Therefore, we invite you to reply here with a short, succinct message about why you, as a woman living in this country, do not support this candidate as second-in-command for our nation.

Please include your name (last initial is fine), age, and place of residence.

We will post your responses on a blog called "Women Against Sarah Palin," which we intend to publicize as widely as possible. Please send us your reply at your earliest convenience- the greater the volume of responses we receive, the stronger our message will be.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I'm not sure who initiated this email reminder, but I am grateful she did. I received it from a Gold Star Mom friend and from a local activist. We, women enjoy our right to vote and so many take for granted this important right that so many women fought so hard for. Please take a minute and pass this along to all your women friends.

VOTE!....we may only have 2 choices....but we do have a choice!!


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a he art attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

Read more:

John McCain, Warmonger

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sarah Palin, Mean Girl or Miss Congeniality?

We know a bit more than we did on Friday about Governor Sarah Palin, the presumptive VP nominee for the Republican party. What we are finding out isn't pretty and I have to wonder what kind of Rovian joke this is.

The rumors and rants are flying and who knows what will turn out to be fact or fiction? The corporate media is going to do what they do best by covering the lurid stories that may or may not amount to anything, but what about the facts? What matters about the person who could be one heartbeat away from the presidency? What matters to me is good judgement, common sense, intelligence, compassion, character and where they stand on the issues. What doesn't matter to me is how "hot" the candidate is or isn't, how many houses they have- unless they don't know the answer to that question, how much they pay for their shoes, if they are a maverick- or not, whether a VP's candidate's spouse got a DUI 20 years ago, what their parenting skills; all subjects that have come up in the past day or so.

* We know that Palin was not vetted properly by the McCain campaign. Don't we want to know what skeletons are hiding in what closets before make makes their national debut as a major political player? It's not that there are skeletons that may be worrisome, it's what kind of skeletons. With access to the internet, no one should be surprised at the casual vetting taking place by bloggers, pundits and reporters. If the party hasn't done an adequate job, it becomes our responsibility.

*We know that Palin was speaking in Texas when she was 34 weeks pregnant in April 08. KTUU reports:

The governor's water broke during the energy conference but she stayed and gave a 30-minute speech before boarding an Alaska Airlines plane home to deliver the baby.

Airlines rules vary; Alaska Airlines has no restrictions for pregnant travelers, although many other airlines require a medical certificate stating the woman is fit to travel. Once Palin's water broke, flying put the flight crew in a potentially difficult situation, a risk that doesn't show much common sense or good judgement to me. Additionally, the 8 hour flight plus trip to the hospital would seem to put the baby at risk, as well.

*We know that Palin, appeared on a radio talk show in Alaska back in January of this year that a writer to the Alaska Daily News described The governor's appearance on KWHL's "The Bob and Mark Show" last week is plain and simple one of the most unprofessional, childish and inexcusable performances I've ever seen from a politician. The DJ unleashed a vicious, mean-spirited, poisonous attack on Senate President Lyda Green all the while Palin laughed and joined in the fun as the *b* word was thrown around. As a state executive, we expect better. Do we need a Mean Girl to be our Vice President?

More will come out about Palin; the good and the bad. I hope that many people who thought Palin was a valuable addition to the Republican ticket, and the answer to the disaffected Hillary supporters, will consider the facts as they become available. Sarah Palin is not ready to be the Vice President; her nomination is an insult to those of either gender who are much more qualified. I can only hope that potential supporter's who might have voted for McCain, will not in good faith, do so with Palin's name on the ticket.

Politics is not for the faint of heart. Palin has been thrown into the big leagues with little league experience. It remains to be seen how she will do on the campaign trail. Will she hold her own when the questions start getting tough? Does she have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with Joe Biden in the October VP debate? How will she handle meetings with heads of state?

We know one thing for sure, this VP candidate is not in Wasilla anymore although she may wish she was.

Bristol Palin's Pregnancy

The announcement of the pregnancy of her 17 year old daughter, Bristol had barely hit the wires when responses started flying that Sarah Palin is a "bad mother" (because she could or should have prevented her daughter from getting pregnant). Who are they to pass judgement? This pregnancy is a personal issue for the Palin family and the father's family that should be nobody else's business. It isn't as cavalier as "teen pregnancies happen", but they do and no demography is immune.

Mothers already put enough pressure on themselves. Even as the most well-adjusted and happy children grow into adults, mother's question whether, how or if they could have done better or more. I suspect most mothers give themselves an inner pat on the back when their child leaves home without having had to deal with a teen pregnancy. Who would wish that kind of responsibility on their child?

As one Wasilla, AK resident said when he heard the pregnancy had hit the national news, Oh, "I'm so sorry. That's so unfair." She's right, of course, but that doesn't mean the rumors and rants will go away.

We hope for a happy, healthy baby for young Bristol and the baby's father. They have challenges that parenthood will bring, that they cannot possibly know at this time. The best news for Bristol is to know that she has the unconditional love and support of her family.

Move along people, there's nothing to see here.

Katrina's Evil Twin, Gustav

For about a millisecond I felt sorry for The RNC when I heard McCain's spokesmodel discuss the ever changing plans regarding the Republican Convention/Party in Minneapolis. It seems that some of those republifolks are a little bit worried about their reputation getting all messed up again because they fiddled while the Gulf region was devastated by Katrina exactly 3 years ago. Who wants to see that story again?

The Republicans are trying to show their sensitive side so people know they care about their fellow Americans (do not tell me that this wasn't discussed by their strategists- it is just so out of character for this party that turned their back on the good people of the Gulf Coast). The word of the day was "appropriate". Rick Davis, Mc Cain's campaign manager, said they would respond "appropriately" if they needed to adjust the convention schedule with regards to the weather. They were considering changing their ad strategy because they aren’t going to do anything that would be deemed inappropriate in the course of this kind of situation and because the negative tone would be inappropriate during Gustav. Delegates from the Gulf coast were offered trips back home. Bush & Cheney have cancelled their appearances at the parties convention so they can focus on preparations for Hurricane Gustav, which may hit New Orleans. The LA Times reports that Republican strategists are relieved that the president, and his low ratings, won't attend. And the presumptive nominee John McCain said, "This is a time when we have to do away with our party politics and we have to act as Americans" Really? Why this time? Why start now?

3 years ago, they didn't act as Americans who care about what happens to their fellow citizens. You might recall that George Bush helped John McCain celebrate McCain's 70th birthday that same day exactly 3 years ago as Katrina was bearing down. After the cake photo-op, Bush hopped on a plane heading to sunny California, that day, not even thinking about the potential danger the citizens of the Gulf coast were facing. We know how that story unfolded.

An historical 2 million people have evacuated from the New Orleans area in advance of Gustav, Katrina's evil twin that has it's eye on the Gulf Coast. I don't want to belittle the efforts that have been put into improving the government response, and I know evacuations aren't a walk in the park, but if they, if we, didn't learn anything in the last 3 years, then it's more shameful than it looks.

Mother Nature has a twisted sense of humor; sending Gustav to arrive on the anniversary of Katrina is cruel. So hang on to your hats (literally) and let's see if the government really learned anything exactly 3 years ago. My thoughts are with the residents of the Gulfcoast region as they face another fight for their survival.