Friday, September 30, 2005

The Politics Of Gotcha

There is more disturbing fallout from the Tom Delay indictment from yesterday. Some on Republican Websites seem to be now promoting the politics of " Gothcha", now arguing which Democrats should be charged with crimes and indicted even if no real wrongdoing exists, only an ideological difference on issues.

I never liked the idea of political parties looking for reasons to jail their political opponents. Politics should be about rational debate about differing plans for government. Instead, some of both poltical parties feel that politics should be a "Gothcha" system where political opponents should be rounded up and jailed, just like the systems of China, North Korea or Cuba.

It is true that Tom Delay is a polarizing figure of pure partisanship. He has had bipartisan ethics problems several times before. And he is nicknamed "the hammer" because he is ruthless against political opponents. Yet it seems that a felony charge against someone with this sort of character is very harsh. People like Delay who very well may cut ethical corners should simply stay away from politics and leave the profession up to less negative and partisan persons.

Politics should become more civil. And less "Gothcha" politics would be a great thing to be reduced in American politics. Instead of looking for solutions, some of both parties seem to entertain themselves looking a scandal to blame a politican and possiby ruin the life or career of another political rival. All of this is very unfortunate. But for some, looking for a scandal to ruin the reputatation of another is the new politics in this modern age of computers and other innovations.

Sometimes there is a thin line between a legitimate concern for not allowing corruption in government and promoting "Gotcha" politics. It will interesting seeing where the Delay case goes. And interesting if it creates some more political fallout. My personal feeling is someone intensely partisan like Delay doesn't belong in office. But putting this negative figure in jail or prison is taking things to the next level. This is not healthy, and is a very bad political trend.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Corruption In American Politics Is A Bipartisan Enterprise

American politics is a massive money machine. And being surrounded by a system built on so much money, often helps to encourage corruption. Since 1947, more than 47 congressmen have been indicted for corruption charges, both democrats and republicans. Even state politics involves corruption. In Oregon, democrat Peg Jolin was removed from office in a scandal that involved the use of campaign funds to purchase a Mustang convertible. And a former Republican lawmaker pled guilty to charges involving the misuse of $150,000 in campaign funds for his personal use very recently.

But the indictment of Texas Rep. Tom Delay by a Austin grand jury on the charge of misusing his Washington PAC to launder corporate funds in violation of state law to channel back to candidates for the Texas state legislature in an effort to gain republican control of the Texas house is a unique scandal, that appears to have been promoted by so much corporate money flowing through the American political system , as well as high partisan moltivations on the part of Delay. It will now be the job of Delay and his legal team to disprove the intent to circumvent the claimed moneytrail of the scheme in the indictment to a judge and jury.

Almost instantly, an unfortunate effort by some republicans to defend Delay has taken place. Many claim that prosecutor, Ronnie Earle is a partisan figure in democratic state politics. And of course he is. However Mr. Earle has seperated his personal politics from his duties as prosecutor and has indicted 12 democrats and 2 republicans of public corruption charges. The professional seperation of the duty for a public prosecutor from the personal politics of Ronnie Earle disproves this weak premise.

And a futher unfortunate step by some defenders of Delay is to take normal and lawful activity of some democratic lawmakers at any level of government and to charge that an investigation has been deliberately ignored for partisan reasons. Yet like Ronnie Earle, most prosecutors are professionals, and a history of both democrats and republicans have faced charges in every state. No one party has been unfairly targeted that can be proven. This is another weak premise to justify Tom Delay against the indictment brought against him.

And on the reverse side, some democratic leaning Websites will no doubt have some posts that claim that the Tom Delay indictment proves that republicans are somehow "inherently dishonest", when all proof is that both democrats and republicans have faced charges in all states in cases of public corruption.

It is true that the Delay indictment is hurtful to republicans, in that he was an effective fundraiser and also an embarrassment to the party that has so heavily courted Christian voters and has claimed to embrace values. Any form of corruption is very contrary to Christian values expected to reflect honesty and integrity. And Delay even used a recent Christian event to help himself politically during allegations of ethics questions in the past few weeks.

Prosecutor Ronnie Earle said it best when he stated that his office has prosecuted four times as many democrats as republicans, and the Delay matter is about "cops and robbers". And Christians who are called to high standards of honesty should have no part in any activity that should be seen as the activity of "robbers".

If Tom Delay is ultimately found guilty of the ethics charge, then it should be hoped that the Christian organizations who rallied to his defense a few weeks ago will accept that his values are in conflict with the values of God and Holy Scripture. However if Delay is found innocent of the charge, then he needs the forgiveness found of all innocent persons to be expected from a Biblical standard of basic decency to others.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Iran Plays The Blackmail Card To Push Ahead Nuclear Agenda

In an effort to blackmail the world into allowing Iran to develop nuclear power and most likely weapons as well, Iran is now using cutting oil deals with states like India who act as responsible members of the world community, and supported the recent U.N. resolution supporting U.N. action against Iran if they do not comply with international efforts to prevent a nuclear program in Iran.

A 25 year natural gas deal between Iran and India was scrapped by Iran to blackmail this responsible nation. And Iran has threatened other states, such as Japan who depend on 17% of their supply of oil from Iran. Some states that depend heavily on oil or natural gas from Iran, willbe hard pressed whether to support U.N. efforts to prevent Iran from development of nuclear power and potentially weapons, or continued oil supplies due to the example set by the case of India. Japan was another state out 35 delegations, of which 22 supported the U.N. efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear goals. Whether Japan's oil from Iran will now be threatened is a good question. The natural gas deal between India and Iran did not yet take place, so those lack the real teeth of an oil export embargo.

And Iran seems to look for ways to up the blackmail ante by sometimes slipping in a threat or two to develop nuclear weapons unless states that oppose Iran's nuclear goals allow Iran to move ahead with nuclear projects.

None of this is good. It all lays out a dangerous and irresponisible state in Iran, that will no doubt use the least reason to develop and use nuclear weapons if given half the chance.

2,600 years ago the Prophet Ezekiel wrote his Old Testament book that became both the history and future of events in the MidEast that will impact the nation of Israel, first as Judea and Sumaria, but now as the modern state of Israel. The writings of Ezekiel are well on course that Iran will be the cause of major future war in the MidEast. Interestingly the wars of WWI and WWII are not even mentioned in the Bible or Torah, but the future war with Iran is because it will become the worst war in the history of the planet. With Iran's nuclear goals as well as radical and irresponsible government, fears should be that Iran is pushing these terrible future events ever closer. The writings of this future war in Ezekiel 37-39 should send a cold chill up the spine of anyone. The situation with Iran deserves much careful diplomacy, resolve, as well as prayer to prevent from blowing up into the worst conflict in the history of mankind during our lifetime.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Life Of A Woman In Iraq

The U.S policy to change the government of Iraq has had a very negative impact on the lives of women in Iraq. Compared to other MidEast states, women in the old regime days in Iraq faced far better times than now, and that compares against a climate with no political freedom, or even the tough life under more than 12 years of U.N. sanctions with not enough food or medicine, while Saddam Hussein's family built palace after palace.

Human rights in the current Iraq have taken a sharp downturn. There is the widespread possibility of becoming a violence victim if one belongs to the wrong political or ethnic group in the wrong neighborhood. There is always the real possibility of torture, even for children for anyone remotely thought to be affilated with opposition to the government or the America occupation.

Each day in the life of a woman in Iraq is a struggle to get enough electricity, water, food or even medicine. Any woman who walks into the streets faces possible death from car bombs or other violence. Many young women are kidnapped and sold as into slavery as prostitutes in other neighboring states. Some will be victims of new discrimination against women caused by a resurgent fundamentalist brand of Islam that allows honor killings and other violence against women. And while 16 million in Iraq count on monthly rations for enough food, since May they have not received these needed food rations. Among the 100,000 possible dead civilians in Iraq since the beginning of the war, lack of clean water without disease, or food or medicine has taken many lives. And the use of American bombs such as depleted uranium, cluster bombs or the MK-77, a form of napalmlike weapon, have taken many more lives when used against entire neighborhoods to rout out a few insurgent fighters in hiding.

The fundamentalist majority in the new Iraqi government evens seeks ways to deny full citizenship to women, and parts of the constitution were hot areas of debate. It's not good to be a woman in modern day Iraq. And there is little movement in a positive direction for the lives of women in Iraq. If America intended any movement towards democracy in Iraq, then more than 50% of persons in Iraq, mainly woman and children have found their lives dramaticly worsened since the start of the American war to replace Saddam Hussein.

The Cindy Sheehan Arrest

It was only a matter of time that the ultimate goal of the government to arrest Cindy Sheehan for her political views was going to happen. While her goal to force an American withdrawal from Iraq before America can leave a stable enough government and military in place in Iraq before a substantial number of American soldiers leave is unrealistic. But even neoconservative William Kristol who organized the war efforts with the Project For The New American Century, with Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton and others back as far as 1997, this weekend doubted that America will ever really leave Iraq. And Kristol now also expresses some doubts about the Iraq War policy he helped to organize, as well as calling for the firing of Donald Rumsfeld.

But for others who are critical of the Iraq War, like Cindy Sheehan who organized 100,000 protestors, were always a target of the Bush Administration to arrest her to silence her views. When a political movement builds too much strength that government policies are threatened, then nonsense laws are looked at to stiffle that opposition to the government. In the case of Cindy Sheehan, the phony charge used to stiffle her political opinions are a "lack of permit" to protest.

Yet there is no standard set in the U.S. Constitution that a permit is required from government to protest the official policies of that government. This is merely an unconstitutional roadblock to expression of free political expression. There was no violence connected to the protest of Cindy Sheehan when arrested. No rock throwing or molotov cocktails. It was an orderly and peacful expression of her personal political views.

But America joins the worst governments in the world, like China, Cuba and North Korea, when those that oppose government policy are rounded up and arrested by government. While American Communists were popular in the 1930's in America drawing an increasing number of popular votes in national elections, the American government sometimes arrested Communists for merely printing newspapers. The current proposed amendment to "protect the flag" is a new law being proposed to round up political protestors. Even Larry Flynt, the colorful publisher of trashy magazines, faced obscenity charges to silence his political, social and morality views, by the American government. In China, a protestor is run over by a tank. In the U.S., some other unacceptable unconstitutional roadblock to free expression is erected to prevent those with views contrary to government from expressing themselves.

Cindy Sheehan has built a growing movement, although it is not realistic for America to withdrawal troops at this time because of the instability that we helped to create in Iraq. When 100,000 other persons joined Cindy Sheehan this weekend, her movement is becoming very strong. When only 700 counterprotestors were organized to protest Cindy Sheehan's efforts, then the Bush Administration knew their Iraq War policy is in trouble. The arrest of Cindy Sheehan could have been expected to stiffle her growing political opinions against the Iraq War. Instead of making a good case for the continued war in Iraq, the Bush Administration found a very cheap way out by arresting Cindy Sheehan for protesting "without a permit". This simply should not be the American way. We're supposedly the nation attempting to "teach" democracy to the MidEast and setting no example when cheap and clearly unconstitutional means are used to round up political opponents of the government.

Monday, September 26, 2005

China Is Buying More And More U.S. Treasury Bonds

A major problem for the U.S. is how to pay for the Katrina and Rita relief efforts. And with the cost of the Iraq War topping $196.4 billion, or $1,768 per family, or $785 per person, as well as a Bush Administration that has failed to balance the federal budget, or to even veto a single spending bill, the costs to fund disaster relief are indeed very scarce.

Recently congress even passed a $286.4 billion highway bill. This contained a full 6,376 pet "pork" projects valued at $24 billion, including funds for a horseriding facility that the average American will never be able to use, yet is expected to pay the costs for.

All of this "tax and spend" government is financed by the sale of U.S. Treasury bonds. And many of the biggest bondholders are foreign states such as China. In the beginning of 2004, China held $151.6 billion in bonds. Today China holds $242 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds. Among the $4.1 trillion dollars in bonds available for purchase, Japan holds 679 billion, down only slightly from a year ago. And Carribean states hold another $137 billion. And theU.K holds $122 billion. And South Korea holds $69 billion.

Bonds are like a credit card debt that many Americans find themselves involved in. The interest continues to build as a national debt that just never seems to get paid off. But the U.S. government is in no position to argue. It needs the money, so it must sell America to foreign states to continue to function and not go bankrupt. And this reckless pattern of debt is from an administration that promotted "bankruptcy reform" for small family credit card debtors, while itself engaging in a pattern of far more dangerous and reckless spending, borrowing and debt.

While a state like China takes more and more U.S. jobs through "outsourcing", it also wields more and more clout to prevent fair trade demands from the U.S. And the high dollar value of bonds also blocks the U.S. from any meaningful role insisting on demands for human rights reforms or an end to religious persecution of groups like Christians in China. And executions of "state enemies" is still a common practice in China.

China will take away millions of America jobs with "outsourcing" , paying only 24-40 cents an hour labor to workers, and turn these huge profits into buying more and more U.S. Treasury bonds until it eventually owns the lock and key to the U.S.

A Communist nation like China never has to engage the U.S. in a military conflict. By purchasing America "one piece at a time", just like the old Johnny Cash song, is how this nation is gaining more and more influence and power over the U.S.

This is the unfortunate fact of how Katrina and Rita disaster relief will be purchased. It is a devil's bargain, where for short term benefits the future of America is sold to foreign powers like China.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hurricane Rita And The New Oil Fears

Thankfully it appears that the damage from Hurricane Rita to the oil industry in Texas is not as bad as it could have been. Yet the fact that 1/3 of America's oil supply could face such a major threat shows just how delicate this dependence on oil has become for America. It begs the question why a new fuel source based on more plentiful elements such as the sun, wind or water is not developed.

Some geologists in 1977 assumed that the world had gone past the "peak oil" point. After this critical point, every major oil reserve has faced problems with production that could only be solved through means such as water or gas injection to force oil supplies to the surface and to maintain production levels comparable to any past production levels.

In Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil field, the Ghawar oil reserve, is only able to maintain production of 4.5 million barrels per day by means of pumping 7 million barrels of seawater each day into the reserve to raise the oil level near to the surface.

But the other world's largest oil reserves have all declined in production despite means such as gas injection or water injection. Russia's giant Samotler oil reserve has declined in production from 3.5 million barrels per day, down to just a mere 325,000 barrels per day. The Prudhoe oil reserve has declined from 1.5 million barrels per day, to a mere 350,000 barrels per day. The Forty Field in the North Sea has declined from 500,000 barrels of oil production per day, down to just 50,000 barrels per day. And the most promising oil reserve found in North or South America so far has been the Cruz Beana oil reserve in Columbia. But even this oil reserve has declined down from 500,000 barrels a day to just a mere 200,000 barrels a day.

Mankind continues to demand more and more oil to maintain the lifestyle that the Western economies as well as the developing economy of China demand to continue to function. The only real solution is to look to the vast elements that God has given the earth. The sun, wind and water.

There is much interest in harnessing water as a power source. This is by converting water into a fuel source. As far back as the 1970's, even engineering students have built hydrogen powered automobiles that seem to work well, despite some problems in producing the fuel source plentiful enough for more than a mere test. But with water, such a plentiful resource, there is an unlimited supply of energy that could be harnessed. Both the automobile industry and even the Bush Administration have expressed real interest in this viable fuel alternative.

One of my own relatives, worked for years on a modern version of the steam engine for the Lear Jet company in Nevada. My relative was the chief engineer for the Lear Jet steam turbine engine project. Steam engines have proven themselves for longtime success. In 1769 the first steam powered vehicle was tested by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot. The first steam locomotive was tested in 1804. Robert Fulton's early steamboat was designed in and tested in 1807. Production Stanley Steamer automobiles began in earnest after 1905. These vehicles were so fast compared to the other internal combusion automobiles of the time that a standing offer of $100,000 to anyone who would operate a Stanley Steamer with the throttle full open was offered. In fact, the Lear Jet steam turbine motor was powerful that one was tested at the Bonneville Salt Flats at over 145.6 miles per hour. The Lear motor was similar to an aircraft engine. Turbine engines were once tested by Chrysler in the early 60's. These Chrysler turbine motors used gasoline, but spun at 50,000 RPM compared to many present internal combusion engines, and had to be geared down to be streetable. The Lear Jet engine was similar to the other turbine engines, yet powered by steam. On wonders with microwave oven technology to quickly heat the water supply, whether these engines could avoid the long warm up time. And the safety of any boiler from explosion danger must be made to protect the users as well. But steam powered vehicles have long proven themselves for viability since the late 1700s .

Solar power using solar panels to heat homes has proven itself to work on an experimental basis with a few project homes. Some homes can produce enough of their own electric power, that the cost for external power purchases from electric companies is as low as $14 amonth for some. The sun is the greatest source of power known to the earth. It is this basis of the solar system, and remains an untapped resource for clean electricity generation. And experimental automobiles powered by the solar power have proven themselves for years. College students have also built many solar powered automobiles for events and races. And model kits as well as parts exist at Radio Shack to build small solar powered experiments or toy project automobiles. J.C. Whitney has long sold a device that uses a small dashboard mounted solar panel to keep a car battery fully charged. Solar power has proven itself as a clean and powerful resource that needs yet to be put to good use. Every home could have solar panels instead of tar and shingles and provide much of it's own needed electricity and heat.

Holland for years has used the wind and windmills for electricity production. This has been so successful that even China s working with Holland on a large project to build windmills in China to provide clean and safe electrical power.

The days of oil as the world's main fuel source need to be limited. Not only is oil production much more difficult to maintain since the peak oil level of 1977. But rising prices, as well as problems from pollution, require that new power sources harnessed from the clean and plentiful elements of water, wind and the sun. God provided these powerful elements. With technology, these can all provide clean and plentiful resources for energy and power. America's oil dependence can be broken, and God has provided the means in unlimited sources that cannot ever be depleted. Just like the early days of whale oil to light lamps, the oil dependence has gone long past it's entitled due. Now the intelligent harnessing of the elements should be undertaken to provide for the future.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Those Tax And Spend Republicans

The Republicans main battle cry for years was an opposition to "tax and spend" policies. So now that they control the White House, Senate, Congress and the Supreme Court, one would expect them to follow their own philosophical belief and trim government spending. But no.

The recently passed highway bill which cost $286.4 billion includes an unbelievable 6,376 pet "pork" projects, with a price tag of $24 billion for those projects. The price tag for this 1,752 page document is part of the reason the American government is so hard pressed for Katrina relief funds. Now comes Rita.

A snowmobile trail in Vermont costing $5.9million. A horseriding facilitiy in Virginia costing $600,000. The National Packard Museum in Ohio costing $2.75 million. And numerous other projects among the 6,376 pet projects all chipped in push up the Federal Budget deficit, as well as to sap funds that could be used for vital Katrina and now Rita relief efforts.

And the enormous cost of the elective war in Iraq, now tops $196.4 bilion, or $785 per person, or $1,768 per American household. This war planned since 1997 by neoconservatives as well as defense contractor interests through Willian Kristol's Project For The New American Century has brough no peace or stability to the MidEast or Iraq, and has actually pushed Iraq closer to all-out civil war between the Sunni and Shiite communities, as well as having encouraged numerous regional radicals and terrorists to enter Iraq to plant roadside bombs, or to blow themselves up in suicide bombings to battle Americans or the kill innocent mainly Shiite Iraqi citizens.

And late night comics from Jay Leno to Conan O'Brien, all the way to columnists such as Arianna Huffington are painting the Bush Administration as mere clowns for squandering scarce Federal funds on a upcoming war on adult entertainment in America in order to pander to the religious right and prove some newfound morality to others. This newfound morality is from a President who biographer's such as Kitty Kelley claim to have abused alcohol and cocaine as late as 1988, and started the Iraq War with all the death and carnage to boost defense contractor profits and lied to America to seek the involvement in this war. Even Bill Clinton brought much ridicule on his administration when they prosecuted a California couple who ran a stupid small "mom and pop" Internet bondage movie business from their home. But later Clinton's moral values were put on public view with the White House intern caught under his desk scandal, as well as questions about his honest answers to a legal investigation into a lawsuit brought by another woman. But a trend of those with moral shortcomings large enough to drive a truck through using government to hang heads on a wall like a trophy to "prove" their supposed moral superiority to others is an unfortunate long time tradition in American politics. It is mere latter day "phariseeism".

Bill Clinton did balance the budget, unlike this current president. And the huge financial drag of the Iraq War is something the nation finds difficult to afford with all the cost of relief efforts needed for Katrina and Rita right now.

Banks in Japan, South Korea and China already hold more than $130 billion in bonds that keep our government from total bankrupty. Mr. Bush will no doubt have to sell more of America to these foreign interests to keep his government solvent for a few more days.

This winter, families that use oil to heat their homes will pay nearly twice as much as last year if problems continue. And motorists find gas prices a serious expense that takes from other important needs for many American families.

The illusion of America as a great world power, of immense strength is beginning to develop some serious cracks in the suit of armor. It is no wonder that more and more Americans are not satisfied with the present direction the country is headed in.

Our nation isn't perfect. We have many sins and shortcomings. And we could all be better citizens in our own way. But sometimes it seems that God is testing America.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Small Victory

It's not much of a victory, but after complaints by myself and others concerned about clean air for those with health problems, TriMet the bus service for Portland, Oregon has finally decided to ban smoking in the busstops and fine smokers $94 for smoking violations.

This would appear to be good news. But smokers still have the right to light up and cause severe health problems, injury or even death to nonsmokers with asthma or other health problems by still being allowed to abuse public sidewalks, public streets, store doorway entrances and most other open locations to poison the air with the 4,000 poisons their nicotine drug addiction rude public conduct causes. Smokers can still cause cancers of all type in nonsmokers, including of the tongue, throat, breast and ear infections in those around them by ruining the air that others with health problems count on being good enough to breathe.

Much more work to make smokers accountable for their crimes against nonsmokers are needed. Individual smokers, stores that sell cigarettes or allow parking lot or door entrance smoking, cities that allow public smoking, as well as the cigarette companies all need to agree to a total ban on all public smoking and limit this deadly drug addiction to only the inside of homes of the smokers, or should face negligent personal injury lawsuits.

It is hardly likely that smokers who smoke publicly will stop their dirty public drug addiction conduct. If you ask them nice to please stop, they usually act very rotten, just like a heroin addict being denied their next "fix". Public laws or lawsuits are needed to stop these drug addicts from tearing down the health of nonsmokers and injuring children with ear infections and other injuries. One cigarette could potentially cause several nonsmokers severe asthma attacks, medical costs or even death. If a nonsmoker with asthma is without their inhaler, a severe health crisis caused by a public smoker is more than possible.

Stores should be interested in what's good for business. And allowing smokers to loiter in door areas or parking lots, has caused me to drive away from a Safeway and other parking lots and spend my grocery money elsewhere. Nonsmokers should make stores aware of this. And if no change comes, then lawsuits should come to clean up this unnecessary health threat to nonsmokers.

My mother who is a lifelong nonsmoker has been caused both asthma and now emphysema from secondhand cigarette smoke. She has to pay up to $400 a week in medications and a machine to assist breathing. And I have substantial lung, throat and mouth scarring due to the effects of rheumatoid arthritis and cannot tolerate even breathing of cigarette smoke without severe burning pain in my mouth, tongue, throat and lungs. I'll devote everyday to making life better for nonsmokers with health problems, air cleaner so children can play outside, and bringing this criminal smoking industry to justice, whether through legislation or through lawsuits. I invite many others to also challenge this criminal industry and bring the smoking industry to justice.

This is a moral war to saves lives, save public health injuries and costs, and to stop an industry that profits from immoral injuries and deaths to nonusers of tobacco products who are victimized by this wealthy industry. Nonsmokers have the right to breathe clean air. Smokers and the immoral tobacco industry have no right to take that away.

Chevy HHR: Strange New Retro Entry

Jay Leno's Thursday night program was sponsored by an unusual new automobile?, or maybe light truck? entry, the Chevrolet HHR. Strange comedy oriented ads featuring unusual comic actor Andy Dick, seemed to purposely avoid mention of any of the features of the new automobile. No mention of the cars specifications, engine or horsepower was mentioned, other than the attractive base model price and a few glimses of the vehicle. The form does have some function though, at first glance.

This HHR vehicle is based on the 1949 Chevrolet Suburban styling, and the HHR stands for "Heritage High Rise". It looks something like the PT Cruiser built by Chrysler, but is slightly larger, costs slightly more, has slightly less horsepower and has far less clean styling than the PT Cruiser, which is a far more simple and direct retro late 40's design. The HHR does come across as sort of gaudy and overdone in the styling department. Yet with the large cargo compacity, this design based on Chevrolet Cobalt small car line may be able to find a market with some young buyers, or those who have band equipment to move for gigs, or other utility purposes.

At 143 horsepower, with the standard 2.2L four cylinder, the HHR has a little less muscle than the 150 horsepower in the 2.4L four in the PT Cruiser. Both offer optional engines with a little more horsepower, but neither is a drag strip contender. Both are marketed for their unusual design which allows for a higher roofline for more cargo carrying utility. And both offer a very reasonable 22MPG city, and 30 Highway MPG.

And thankfully, the HHR features standard antirust rust through protection. For those living in states like Ohio, where salted roads once used to eat away with rust new Vegas, Chevettes, Monzas and other low priced Chevrolets and other economy brand cars at one time, antirust through at least promises the vehicle will last long enough to make the last payment on the vehicle while it is still in one piece on the road. Buyers expect this better quality in even the small and low priced cars now than they did years ago, where almost any cost cutting to reduce production costs was once tolerated by a forgiving auto buying public. But the excellent construction or reasonable priced automobiles like Toyota and Honda raised the quality control ante for all brands.

The HHR should find a market. And the $15,990 base price isn't too bad. Although at $14,270 the slightly smaller PT Cruiser is still a bit cheaper. And with some current incentives at Chrysler, some PT Cruisers are as low as $12,713 for the next few days in September until these sales promotions expire.

Unlike a real SUV, the HHR will not be offered in four wheel drive or other sturdy SUV drivetrain arrangements at least for now. It is simply an upright roof based vehicle that looks sort of like a SUV with the Chevy Cobalt small car design as the vehicle's real basis, and not the sturdy truck design that one will find in real Chevrolet SUVs such as the Suburban line.

GM has had some worry over lagging sales until the recent sales incentives upticked sales for America's largest vehicle maker recently. But some will like the HHR, although the styling does look overdone to me. This new vehicle is worth a look and a test drive at your local Chevrolet dealer if you're in the market for a vehicle similar to the PT Cruiser, with a little more size that offers some utility in a small 176.2 inch long vehicle with a 103.5 inch wheelbase.

Compared to the other retro styled SSR, that has a very high price, and high performance to boot, the HHR looks sort of cool in a retro way, and may become a favorite of some. It is affordable and reasonable and practical enough despite the unusual and overdone styling that Chevrolet may be able to sell 50,000 or more of these HHRs in the next year. If it clicks with the public, a Ford version or import version may come down the turnpike eventually. Whether Chevrolet can find a popular product in a niche market that Chrysler created with the PT Cruiser will be an interesting test. But with many good looking car models from Toyota, Honda and other makers, most car buyers will no doubt opt for attractive cars that look like cars. A small car that looks like a light truck is still the market exception, and not the market rule.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Looming Vote On Roberts

The vote on John Roberts is drawing near. And each of the senators find themselves in a position of "having to do, what they have to do".

Ted Kennedy will vote against Roberts on grounds of his views on voting rights. And Senator John Kerry, will vote against Roberts on the grounds that he was evasive in his answers on the questions before the senate. And most likely other democrats who are planning a run for president in 2008, will also vote against Roberts as well.

Those democrats planning to run for president must appeal to their core of voters. They really have little choice. Roberts may be be extremely well qualified, and even sort of likable. He's an attractive choice, as well as briliant. However, his vision of conservatism is something of a mystery. Even some supporters of the far right, like Pat Robertson are unsure of the real vision of the Roberts brand of conservatism. But I feel it's more likely than not, a form of procorporate conservatism, rather than mere social conservatism. And no doubt some decisions will go horriby wrong on the bench and offend significant numbers of wary progressives.

And Republicans, especially those wanting to run for president must be seen as loyal to the party. But even to many Republican moderates, Roberts appears to be an acceptable as well as well qualified choice.

That's the whole dilema for senators unsure about Roberts. He'll have some decisions for decades that will almost certainly offend the values of progressives, yet he's one of the strongest choices in years in that he's so brilliant and well qualified. And if most democrats use too much fire now, they waste this fire for the second, if not more important seat to replace moderate-conservative Sandra Day O'Connor.

Roberts will be confirmed. And by an overwelming vote as well. The second seat should be the real main event. Replacing the conservative Rehnquist with the conservative Roberts is no net ideological change. But the issue of court balance will be far more important with the second seat. Yet the political reality is that democrats are a weak minority in the senate right now. They can't hardly stop a republican majority from forming to approve almost any choice, except an obvious awful choice like a Bork. All of this process, with democrats sitting near helpless at the sidelines make 2006 and 2008 critical make or break election years for the democrats. It's crunch time for democrats to rebound or begin to go the way of the defunct Whig party.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Email Scams Abound In Era Of Bush Justice Department

Anyone who owns a computer has to be disgusted that each day their Email inbox is filled with Email scams and phish Emails that are part of identity theft scams. These form of electronic crimes have become a huge growth industry under the inept Justice Department, mismaged first by John Ashcroft and now by Alberto Gonzales, whose only real job qualification is a friendship with George Bush.

Day after day, month after month, year after year, the number of these criminal scams continue to grow, yet the Justice Department is absolutely inept at bringing to justice these scams that steal billions from Americans every year.

In Florida, a major Cuban cocaine dealer was well known for operating about 20 different scams including phony credit card, automobile club, health care and other frauds. He eventually was arrested for cocaine dealing, however the Bush Justice Department allows his scam enterprises to continue to function despite complaints that probably number in the thousands by now. These phony businesses routinely rob persons of bank funds and offer virtually nothing in return.

Circuitmicro, a company that claims to sell computers and merchandise on credit, uses the Internet to extract funds from the bank accounts of unsuspecting persons who merely apply for company credit. This scam operates from a second floor small office suite, yet claims to be an "industry leader". There is no room for major warehousing of computers, stereos, DVD players, big screen TVs, etc. in this small second floor office. It is a scam that has drawn many posted complaints on the Internet, including those who paid as much as much as $800 for merchandise and who claim to have received nothing so far.

Unwanted Email spams are sent to millions of Email addresses each day, some offering links to material that purports to offer sexual content of children as young as 5 years old. Yet instead of a Bush Justice Department crackdown on these child molester criminal Websites, Alberto Gonzales is diverting attention from prosecution of these deviant child molestors and instead concentrating efforts to use the full weight of the Justice Department and FBI to go after adult entertainment Websites that are intended solely for consenting adults. Gonzales is obsessed that some may be finding solitary sexual gratification with such sleazy adult entertainment, while the far worse crime of the sexual abuse of children too young for even grade school is openly tolerated and ignored by the Bush Justice Department. Congress even earmarked funding to be spent to attack adult entertaiment this year, after the Janet Jackson political hysteria they created from the Superbowl incident, while crimes against young children are ignored and even tolerated by both Congress and the Bush Administration.

Fake Ebay phish scams are another popular criminal target. Almost anyone who has ever sold a single unwanted household item on Ebay, soon finds the security of the Ebay network so lacking in security, that on a daily basis phish Emails to update credit card numbers are filling their Email inboxes. Again the Bush Justice Department is asleep on the job.

And the "Nigerian widow letter" is another popular Email scam, in which a supposed widow from Nigeria needs to deposit funds in an American bank account for some crazy legal reason, and earnest money must be put up by the duped.

Email scams and Emails that link to claimed child sexual content are a major growth industry under the Bush Justice Department. Just like FEMA, where the inept friend of Bush, Michael Brown, whose only real qualification was that of an attorney for the International Arabian Horse Association, John Ashcroft's only real qualification was that he was such a poor senator that he could not defeat a dead candidate on the ballot, and was a partisan GOP favorite. And Alberto Gonzales is merely a Texas attorney pal of Bush, another friend wholly unqualified to serve as the top justice official for the U.S.

Just like Katrina was a disaster, many face daily disaster as crooks are allowed by the inept Bush Adminstration to steal billions from bank accounts, credit cards, identity theft and other criminal acts. It's too bad the U.S. does not have a vote of no confidence like other states. This Bush Administration needs quick replacement, and the next administration has their work cut out to repair all the damage to America this inept administration has caused. Compared to almost any Presidential administration, this Bush one is pure amateur night stuff.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Even PAC Money From The Airlines Couldn't Keep 4 Of 7 Out Of Bankruptcy

Despite air travel that is near the pre9/11 record levels, even big PAC money to the political parties and candidates hasn't been able to keep 4 of 7 airlines out of bankruptcy. Republican candidates have been the biggest beneficiaries of this PAC money, intended to influence the political process to give new tax breaks to the airline industry for fuel costs.

For the 2004 election year, 63% of all airline PAC money went to GOP candidates. American, Northwest, Continental, Delta, Southwest and United all have PACs. They donated $265,000, 186,000, 145,629, $91,500, $61,500 and $111,500. This amounts to 63%, 59%, 72%, 77%, 60% and 42% per PAC to GOP candidates.

Individual major donations were given to: George Bush, $24,998, Tom Daschle, $23,000 and Dennis Hastert $17,000.

Politics is a big money machine. The voters are only a small factor in a system dominated by big money to help drive public opinion with a flood of advertising to groom the voters to vote in a certain manner that will have the most financial benefits for the corporations and their PACS. It is a system of investment and return for corporations. Just like investment in Wall Street stocks and bonds, investments in politics are intended to reap a financial return for the investors. Some political partisans of either party seem to be unaware of this honest fact. But it is how the American political system unfortunately functions. The voters really have little clout in this system. They are a mere end product form of public opinion that must be moved by Madison Avenue slickly arranged advertising meant to move public opinion in the direction of the candidates or party that the PAC has made their investment in. And psychologically planned ads to promote certain responses in voters work just as well as they do when being used to sell other products.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Portland Race For The Cure Draws 45,000 And Raises $2 Million

45,000 participated in Portland's Race For The Cure, to help support breast cancer research for the Susan G. Komen foundation. This was the most successful event held in America to aid women against this deadly disease.

While so many were willing to run in this race, and so much money was raised, still there were signs all over Portland of others who completely indifferent and were actively trying to undermine the efforts of those seeking to save the lives of women.

All over Portland, smokers continued to smoke in public places. This not only endangers the smokers, but the secondhand smoke continues to be a leading cause of breast cancer in America. A new study released in March in California cited a 90% increase in breast cancer amongst women subjected to secondhand smoke from cigarettes.

Secondhand smoke contains 4,000 dangerous poisons, 0% of which are good for humans. Secondhand smoke is inhaled through the mouth and absorbed through the tongue into the body and the poisons settle in all organs. Traces of nicotine drug markers can be found in the urine of children who are in hospitals for ear infection surgery to install ear tubes for middle ear infections caused by secondhand cigarette smoke. These poisons in secondhand cigarette smoke also reach the breasts and collect poisons in the milk, and mutate the surrounding tissues causing cancer. Yet few local or state governments have moved to ban cigarette smoking in public. The average nonsmoker who spends anytime outside has their body and blood stream loaded up all day long by those who smoke in public with the 4,000 poisons, not only causing tongue discomfort, burning throat and sinuses, burning lungs, ear infections, and other other short term illnesses that last for a few days, but also have years shaved off their lives by smokers. The Bible states that a human life is supposed to be 120 years. Yet many Americans live less than 80, and cigarettes are a leading factor.

Smokers currently murder as many as 73,400 nonsmokers each year in the U.S., as well as promote a loss of productivity and increased sick days by promoting an epidemic of asthma and cancer as well other health problems as a high cost of their dirty addiction to American society.

Cigarette companies deliberately put additives in their products to make them more addictive. And since the cigarette smoker is a form of drug addict, they often cannot control their nicotine drug addiction and are compulsed to use their drug in congested public places and cause much sickness and injury to nonsmokers such as those with asthma, or are allergic to tobacco products. One cigarette used in public could fill an entire hospital with persons with asthma or other health problems if enough persons sensitive to secondhand smoke would come in contact with the poisons emitted from this highly poisonous addictive drug delivery system.

The only way to protect nonsmokers and reduce breast cancer and other needless deaths and injuries in nonsmokers is to ban all public smoking and restrict it only to one's one home. And for lawsuits to target the cigarette companies making them liable for the billions in health care injuries and damage for the needless and negligent injuries and deaths to nonsmokers. And lawsuits against individual retailers and even individual smokers for health injuries would further help to prevent needless deaths. There are medical devices for nicotine drug addicts such as nicotine drug patches as well as psychiatric services offered by many health plans. And as many as possible of these drug addicts should seek voluntary psychiatric or medical care to prevent their drug addiction from promotting the continued harm and death of nonsmokers. But at some point, mandatory laws against public smoking, as well as court mandated nicotine drug treatment to curb public smoking need to be implemented.

Many very nice women who survived breast cancer, or who know or love someone who survived this terrible illness, gave up Sunday to sacrifice to save other women's lives. It's more than high time for smokers to honor their efforts and stop putting a cloud of cigarette smoke over the city of Portland each and every day. This beautiful city is not an ashtray or some sleazy tavern. Often the sky is grey in this city, which sits in a valley, and fills up like a bowl with cigarette smoke each day. Once honest efforts to put an end to this preventable cause of breast cancer, asthma, ear infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and other needless deaths is brought under control through law and lawsuits, Portlanders as well as all Americans will be able to breathe healthier and more children will find it safe to play outside.

For North Korea, The Devil Is In The Details

North Korea's plan to use a nuclear threat to extort aid from the world community has finally paid off. A breakthrough in the six party talks have finally resulted in a North Korean "promise" to follow the terms once agreed to under a previous agreement, in exchange for a promise of the United States not to attack as well as massive aid from members of the six party talks. But if food or other aid is price of peace, then that cost is far preferable to the costs of nuclear war.

North Korea is very poor, and definately needs food or other important aid. And any agreement that limits the proliferation of nuclear arms and prevents possible war is very important.

However if the hardline Stalinist Communist leadership of North Korea really wants to better their people, then some sort of talks to peacefully reunite the two Korea's, where the prosperity of the South could spread to the North.

Just like the two Germany's, with the Western portion living in the modern age, and the Eastern path caught in a 1950's level of disadvantage, it would take years for the prosperity of South Korea to rebuild the North into a modern state.

South Korea is such an economically strong nation that South Korean banks have bailed out ailing American corporations with their banking institutions. And even the American government is bailed out by billions in bonds held by South Korean banks and investors. This level of prosperity and the peaceful reuniting of the two Korea's is the real long term key to peace with North Korea, nuclear security, and the end of starvation and poverty in the North.

The Communist government of the North Korea has been a grand failure. Compared to the South, the North is a complete poverty case, only able to support itself by the sale and transfer of arms or nuclear technology around the world. The peaceful prosperity of South Korea built on the sale of automobiles, electronics such as VCRs, DVD players, TVs, and other goods is a far better system, and far preferable to the arms trade of North Korea.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies

To hear statements from the U.S. government, one would think that Saudi Arabia is one of America's very best friends. Yet the truth is, because of America's appetite for oil, the terrible true nature of Saudi Arabia's government is overlooked.

Saudi Arabia, along with China, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam all rate as the very worst nations in the world for religious persecution, especially of Christians. Yet this fact is completely glossed over by the American government and much of the news media to promote trade with some of these states, especially with China and Vietnam, or oil from Saudi Arabia, or support in Afghanistan by Pakistan. In each of these cases, American business either wants cheap products made by cheap labor, a plentififul supply of oil, or foreign policy support. The moral values that are central to the American way of life that include religious freedom are put aside and ignored.

A recent case in Saidi Arabia points out what an oppressive system it is. Christian Brian O'Connor was arrested for mere Bible possession. But Saudi Arabian prosecutors looked for a way to find other other charges to satisfy a government request so as to deceive the American government that the charges were not for mere Bible possession. So in an effort to side step official Bible possession charges, prosecutors falsely are charging O'Connor with 160 counts of "pornography" possession for 160 videos that were made of Christian satellite TV programming. And a few bottles of wine, intended for communion purposes, are being made into another serious charge.

O'Connor was sentenced to a total of ten months in jail along with 300 lashes for the possession of the 160 Christian satellite videos and the possession of the communion wine.

The Bush Administration are champions of the big business community. The 24 cent an hour labor of China is a favorite for American businessmen who want huge labor savings by job outsourcing. Vietnam also offers very cheap labor to Nike shoes, when 16 year old children live and work at the shoe factory and are beaten if they fail to produce to company standards. The Bush Administration would love to put American military bases in Uzbekistan. And the American economy runs on Saudi oil. And Pakistan's support in Afghanistan is seen as critical to that effort. Yet in every case, America sells out the prinicples our nation is founded on these worst abusers of Christians are allowed to practice daily and government sanctioned religious persecution and America says nothing.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Another Canary In The Coalmine

As two more America airlines moved towards bankrupty this last week, it was just another sign, or "canary in the coalmine", that America is on the wrong track.

There are now 4 of 7 American airlines in the bankruptcy system, and this is despite travel at levels nearly as high as pre9/11 levels.

In the 1960's, there were six American automobile manufacturers, GM, Ford, Chrysler, AMC, Studebaker and Checker. Today only GM and Ford remain as American owned, with Chrysler/AMC owned by the German company, Daimler.

There were many American textile businesses until a few years ago. Now virtually none remain, as most jobs have gone to China.

In the 1960's there were many American TV set manufacturers, including Zenith, RCA, GE, Philco-Ford, Magnavox , Quasar, Sylvania, Westinghouse and Admiral. Today, no American made televisions exist.

Nearly every American steel mill are currently within bankruptcy.

Banks in Japan, South Korea and China own billions in bonds that keep the American government from bankruptcy.

During the Bush years, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War disaster are not the only problems that America has faced, there are building economic problems that are far from being resolved and are actually worsening as more and more jobs are outsourced to China or other low wage states. And more and more America industries are being picked apart by cheap imports, or by predatory capitalism from some foreign competitors or states.

America will find it difficult to pay for the Katrina disaster as more and more high wages jobs have left the country, and some industries that were once major employers are now padlocked shut. And unfair "free trade" treaties such as NAFTA, WTO and CAFTA continue to weaken America economically.

Every new American company that seeks bankruptcy protection, or padlocks it's doors is yet another "canary in the coalmine" that something is wrong in this country. And that our government is doing a very poor job defending our way of life in America. We're losing the economic war at home, and right at our own doorways.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush Was Absolutely Right To Take Some Responsibility For The Katrina Disaster Response

President Bush was absolutely right to take some responsibility for the Katrina disaster response. It was partially the "conservative" antibig government philosophy of this administration as well as plenty of blame that can be laid at the feet of Congress and other past presidential administrations that helped to create and worsen the entire disaster.

After the Herbert Hoover great depression, President Roosevelt came into office with plans to put the huge number of unemployed workers back to work with the National Recovery Act. One program, the WPA brought work to huge armies of unemployed workers and built not only much of the old highway system in America, but the original levee work in New Orleans. However, this system was only intended to withstand a category 3 type hurricane, and not the category 5 like the hurricane Katrina destruction brought to New Orleans.

Conservative blogger, Michele Malkin also identified that President Johnson signed into law a bill passed by Congress that was in the process of building a hurricane barrier. But an environmental lawsuit stalled the project by 1977. And in the middle of the 1980's the Army Corps of Engineers project was completely halted as a result of the legal problems created by the environmental lawsuit. However this was only one of many bumps in the road to strengthen the levee system in New Orleans.

There were many local politicians in New Orleans who were often conservative republicans who were opposed the "contraints" on development imposed by land use planning laws, and sought to promote as much land development as possible. This proland developer philosophy took away much of the land buffer that helped to protect New Orleans from flooding in the event of a storm. And some European states, such as the Netherlands even have some manmade structures to help to protect their levee and dam system from storm damage.

As part of the "conservative" antibig government philosophy of the Bush Administration, FEMA sought to outsourch much of it's disaster planning to private local firms. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana firm, Innovative Emergency Management (IEM) was contracted to plan most disaster response for New Orleans back in 2004 by the Bush Administration's FEMA bureau.

But in 2002, Mike Parker, head of the Army Corps of Engineers displayed a rotted piece of metal from the Mississippi Lock system in the area to the Bush Administration's Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mitch Daniels. Mike Parker wanted to repair and strengthen the regional levees and other water control systems in the region, not only due to rotting conditions, but to withstand any storm damage. But it was the Bush Administration that stopped a $430 million dollar repair plan by the Army Corps of Engineers, and Mike Parker subsequently quit as head of this major construction organization.

Congress for years had the opportunity to appropriate funds to strengthen or repair the regional levee systems in this region. However, just this year a highway bill with at least $25 million in pork spending for automobile museums and other projects was voted by Congress, yet this pork spending was 10 times the amount required by to make vital repairs to the New Orleans levee system.

Now Mr. Bush hopes to offer some help after the damage done by Katrina with his speech, which of course is well intentioned. However some of the solutions involve the Republican cure-all for all ills, tax breaks to business. This is no guarantee that workers actually will be hired from the ranks of the unemployed. And other Bush solutions, for minorities or others to open businesss are not entirely a bad idea. But with the huge costs to open a successful business including rent often in excess of $1,000 a month and $25,000 to $100,000 or more in stock required to open a business with any merchandise at all, it is unlikely that many minority members or others will get involved in such a risky venture. If a business fails, which most small businesses certainly do, then a person could be in severe financial straits for many years. And with the Bush "bankruptcy reforms" recently signed into law, the debt of failed business can follow them for years and destroy the marriage of a family with financial stress and arguments. Opening a business is not a solution for all persons. In fact there is a old joke that goes: How do open a small business? You open a large business and wait. There is more truth than humor in this joke. And if the money to open a business is given as a grant, then it is a highly expensive and inefficient way to create jobs in New Orleans.

There is plenty of blame to go around for the Katrina disaster's impact on the New Orleans levee system. Since it's construction during the Roosevelt days in the 1930's, the levee system was just waiting for a storm stronger than a category 3 to flood and drown many in New Orleans. And the cumulative effective of the environmental lawsuit that eventually halted the Johnson-era repairs, as well the recent developments of the Bush Administration's own conservative antibig government philosophy to cut some spending that did not benefit private or big business also contributed to this fatal disaster. The Bush Administration does deserve to accept some responsibility for the disaster. They had a hand in it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

George Bush Hates "NonCorporate" People

Some have suggested that the sluggish response to the Katrina disaster was based on race. I personally doubt that. But in many other areas, class does play an important role in the policies of the Bush Administration.

In the hearings on John Roberts, an image of a corporate-lobby lawyer who was an advocate for corporate interests such as the coal industry to gut clean air laws or strip mining laws, or to represent major corporations such as Toyota and Chrysler is quickly emerging. Rather than being a merely social conservative like the deceased Rehnquist, Roberts is emerging as slightly more flexible on issues before the Supreme Court involving social issues, but also as the corporate conservative that I believed him to be. He is emerging as the $700 an hour corporate attorney that he is, rather than the one dimensional Bork or Rehnquist clone who merely sought to use the high court as a mouthpiece to rubberstamp their personal right wing politics.

This sort of nomination is in keeping with the role of the Bush Administration in promoting corporate goals, rather than the merely social conservative views that many in the Christian right mistakingly believe the Bush Administration to be a champion of. This is the glue that has held this temporary Republican coalition together. Giving enough "lip-service" to the Christian right to make them believe they call the shots within the party, while actually being a party bankrolled and almost solely interested in procorporate goal.

The problems with the FEMA director reflected all of this as well. This wealthy attorney, Michael Brown was chosen solely for his friendship with Mr. Bush. His experience as a lawyer for an Arabian horse organization was hardly the background required to have the knowledge or skills to respond to a bona fide disaster.

And within the Bush re-election efforts, two major groups of wealthy contributors emerged, the Bush Pioneers and Bush Rangers, who often donated in excess of $100,000 to the Bush re-election campaign. Of this elite group of contributors, 43 were appointed to positions within the Bush Administration, and 19 were appointed as ambassadors. In addition a total of 43 persons who were oil company executives, major stockholders or paid consultants. In addition, 33 persons who were either defense contractor executives, major stockholders or paid consultants were appointed to major positions with the Bush Administration.

Some like Condoleezza Rice were a former member of the Board Of Directors of Chevron Oil, and even had a major oil tanker named after her. Any many like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton were members of the neoconservative defense contractor funded Project For The New American Century which had planned the renewal of the old 1990-91 Gulf War against Iraq as a financial windfall for the defense contractors.

Any many of the Bush Administration goals have an openly known benefit to corporate goals, including using the Justice Department to limit the services that HMOs are required to offer their clients, "bankruptcy reform" as a major boost to credit card companies and banks, when many families are destroyed by huge medical bills. And the Social Security "reform", which has the open goal of pumping more private money into Wall Street stocks. The public already has the right to lose money on Wall Street stocks that go down in value, or the corporation fails. Now the public is being encouraged, with the blessing of government to risk their retirement on such Wall Street stocks, subject to many factors as well as CEO manipulations.

The victims of the New Orleans flood did not have the financial clout of the corporate interests of many of the Bush Administration goals. Yet this does not mean this city of great poverty, with a full 28% living below the poverty line were neglected solely for being Black or poor. But rather, with so many Bush Administration positions being given to corporate friends and major contributors, Michael Brown was poorly qualified to act as a real FEMA head should be expected.

George Bush is the first MBA president. He believes that whatever is good for big business is good for the country. But this often means that unqualified persons such as Michael Brown are put in positions of power they are not suited for. Bush loves corporate people. And if one is noncorporate, then their clout level is quite low in this Administration.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Shaq Bashes A Gay Basher

Miami has a large Gay community, however some in the Cuban community sometimes like to express their "manhood" by engaging in violence against members of this community. A couple of Gay men were walking down a Miami street and a young Cuban man jumped out of a car and hit one of the men with a glass bottle in a hate crime. But little did this criminal know that basketball superstar, Shaquille O'Neal witnessed the crime, and got help from the police and put this bias crime criminal behind bars.

Shaquille O'Neal is actually studying to be a policeman after his retirement from the NBA. He has had a great record of foiling other crimes, as well as a reputation for immense personal character.

In an undocumented, but claimed incident, comic Carlos Mencia(the star of Comedy Central's "Mind Of Mencia" TV show) was performing at a comedy club, and according to Mencia, he said some joke that angered Snoop Dogg, and Snoop Dogg and some friends exchanged some words with Mencia and even someone threatened to shoot the comic on the stage, but Shaq O'Neal came out of the audience and made Snoop Dogg and his friends sit down, and told Carlos Mencia to continue with his comedy performance. While this incident has not been confirmed anywhere but by the claim of Carlos Mencia, but it is an interesting case in which Shaq was reported to have foiled an ugly incident at a comedy club.

Shaquille O'Neal is a very good citizen. And afterall, what dumb crook would argue with a seven foot three policeman who is caught red handed in a burglary or other crime. Shaq may not be the best person to work undercover though. A seven foot three athletic man would hardly blend into a crowd. But law enforcement definately needs a man of great character like Shaq. He is a great man who would be a great asset to any police force.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sagging Poll Numbers For Bush May Drive A Withdrawal Of Some Troops From Iraq

While Bush has made every effort to oppose an early withdrawal from Iraq, now it appears that a politically driven effort by Bush may result in a withdrawal of some troops as a desperate attempt to improve the sagging poll numbers for Bush.

It is rumored that when a top level official from Iraq visits the U.S. today, this plan to reduce some American troops may be discussed, and possiby acted on within a few weeks. Yet every indication is that the war is far from won in Iraq, where even today a major military offensive is taking place. And while insurgent attacks are hardly letting up, in October the Sunni minority is likely to vote down the constitution.

Iraq could even be facing civil war due to the constitution, which has angered the Sunni minority. And Iran, Syria or other states, or terrorists may take a partial American troop withdrawal as a signal to increase their efforts to undermine the government of Iraq. The new Iraqi army and police are not yet able to stand on their own, so any decision of a partial withdrawal is that solely of Bush, and flies in the face of the previous stated goals of the Iraq mission by Bush.

But these states have already withdrawn troops from Iraq: Nicaragua, Spain, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, Tonga, Hungary, Portugal and Moldova.

These states will withdrawal their forces this year: Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

These states have reduced their forces in Iraq: Norway, Italy and Netherlands.

While these other nations efforts in the coalition are largely that of noncombat use, yet the trend is clear. Iraq is a political liability and many nations including the U.S. may be looking for a way out of Iraq, even if the role is not completed, and Iraq is now very insecure and prone to the political and military goals of the militias, insurgents, Iran, Syria or any others who look for an opening to secure a foothold in Iraq.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Jerry Springer, Are You Listening?

This last week in Oregon , two embarrassing stories involving members of the Oregon Legislature made news. In one case, former Representative Dan Doyle R-Salem plead guilty to 11 counts in a scheme where he falsified campaign financial documents, claiming money was spent on advertising, when instead he diverted more than $150,000 from his campaign donations to his personal use. His wife, Victoria pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false campaing spending document for a failed political campaign she was involved with. This type of old fashioned theft is nothing new for politics.

But last week also brought out an outrageous story involving State Representative Kelley Wirth-D, Corvallis. And this story was so outrageous that it belongs on a TV scandal show like Jerry Springer. It seems that 40 year old Rep. Wirth, had a romantic relationship with a janitor in the Oregon State Capitol which lasted for 6 months. When the janitor tried to break off the relationship with Ms. Wirth, she refused to accept it, and attemped to continue the relationship, which led to the janitor filing a sexual harassment complaint at the State Capitol against Rep. Wirth. Wirth went over to the janitor's residence, and a terrible argument between the janitor, the 23 year old former girlfriend of the janitor, and Wirth took place. The girlfriend became so angry at Wirth that she followed Wirth over to the State Capitol and attempted to run Wirth down and kill her with her automobile. Wirth survived the attack, but was injured and required surgery for injuries to her legs.

It would seem reasonable to expect that some sort of ethics for members of the Oregon State Legislature would forbid such a relationship between workers at Capitol. Such a relationship reminds one of the unequal relationship between President Clinton and the 21 year old intern, Monica Lewinsky. These unequal relationships involve someone in a position of power often with a much younger person of far lower rank being involved in an unhealthy "office" relationship. But the bad feelings created over the Wirth office romance nearly resulted in murder. A political office is no place for persons of power to use as a dating service. On one hand, the whole story seems like an unsavory story similar to those on programs like Jerry Springer. On the other hand, it will be interesting whether Wirth will seek re-election , and whether voters will return someone to office who used the Oregon Capitol as a dating service, as though it was one of the perks of that elective office. The whole situation is very regrettable and inappropriate for a elected official in my opinion.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Race May Not Have Played A Factor In The Katrina Response, But It Still Does In American Elections

As problems mount for America and the Bush approval rating continues to snowball downhill, the 537 vote theft in Florida of the entire 2000 election proves what a mistake the Bush presidency has been for America. Other than hitting a high point in public trust during his strong performance after the 9/11 attack, almost every aspect of the Bush presidency has been far below the previous years under Bill Clinton. After the sluggish Federal response to the Katrina disaster, a new AP Poll puts the current Bush approval at a mere 39% . And another unpopular major part of the Bush presidency has become Iraq. Yet while the Bush Whitehouse promotes the concept of "free elections" for Iraq and the MidEast, democracy was hardly served at home in Florida in the election of this vastly unpopular president to begin with.

One ugly fact about the 2000 election is the role that suppression of Black vote by top Republican leaders in Florida played in that election.

This is how George W. Bush became president by just 537 official votes due to election manipulation in Florida in 2000.

Prior to the 2000 election, Florida Governor, Jeb Bush and Florida Secretary Of State, Katherine Harris were instrumental in hiring a firm called DBT Choicepoint to set up a list of felons that would be disqualified from voting. When it was found out that this list contained many names of Blacks similar to the names of convicted felons, who were often White or from other states such as Ohio, Jeb Bush refused to allow DBT Choicepoint to use a name verification process to eliminate only the names of persons actually convicted of a felony. This was against the professional policy of DBT Choicepoint, which argued that the since the list was not verified it eliminated many persons who were disportionately Black and not necessarily actually a convicted felon. This disqualified 94,000 mainly Black voters from casting ballots in Florida. Yet one analysis of this list found that 95% of the names on the list could be eliminated it as not being convicted felons, but merely having a similar name or spelling as a felon. The DBT Choicepont list also used names of convicted felons from throughout America, yet any Florida resident had their name disqualified from voting if their name was merely similar. Social Security numbers could have been checked to accurately disqualify only the convicted felons, yet this verification was not used. Only those with similar sounding names was as the basis to disqualify 94,000 persons, who were mostly Black from casting a ballot in the 2000 election in Florida. And while Jeb Bush officially claims he had no part in this scheme to scrub many Blacks from the Florida voter rolls, a document has surfaced with Jeb Bush's name on it to DBT Choicepont that verification of the names of the suspected lists of felons need not verified, and the fees for this verification process were not authorized by Jeb Bush.

One name on the felon list from DBT eliminated the name of a White man from Ohio, Thomas Cooper, yet a Black man in Florida was denied the right to vote in the 2000 election in Florida. Other Blacks, such as military and hospital workers were denied the right to vote. Yet a screening process would disallow felons in either the military or hospital service. These persons were simply denied the right to vote to " suppress the Black vote" as one Republican official once claimed. And in addition, when Katherine Harris was in a hurry to "certify" the 537 vote margin for Bush election in Florida and name Bush as winner, 179,855 votes were left uncounted in Florida. Again a disportionate 54% of these total were votes from Blacks living in Florida.

And the Republican Congressional leadership continues to fail to renew portions of the Voting Rights Act, that would eliminate racial bias in American elections.

The response to Katrina may not have been race based. But elections in America are still race based, where active GOP efforts to "suppress the Black vote" remain very active. In this regard, America has not progressed all that much from the early 60's when Blacks were routinely denied the right to vote in Southern states.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Michael Brown Demotion

Michael Brown is a likable man according to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. But according to the Senator, his role as FEMA director is simply above his abilities. And after Homeland Security head, Michael Chertoff, informed Mr. Bush of his decision, Michael Brown was demoted as head of Katrina disaster response. This was absolutely the right decision.

Ita was reported by Time magazine that Michael Brown had padded his resume, where he claimed to be a director of disaster response. Yet it turns out that Michael Brown was only an intern in a small city agency of 40,000, and not the director of the program by any stretch of reason. Other than this exaggeration of his background of skills and abilities, Michael Brown's chief qualification for the FEMA post were that he was a personal friend of Mr. Bush, and also that Brown was the head of the International Arabian Horse Association. Unfortunately this ability to judge the quality of horses has no skills that present themselves as a qualification for the role as FEMA head.

The Bush Administration has awarded many posts to friends or major political contibutors. Some members of the Bush Rangers and Bush Pioneers who donated $100,000 or more were awarded ambassadorships to foreign states. But this is hardly a good pool of talent to tap for the best qualified officials for important decisions. And Michael Brown's limited skills were apparent during times when critical decisions had to be made about disaster response, and the skills of Michael Brown came up short.

In January of 1977, President Carter tried to appoint many of his best friends to positions such as banker Bert Lance, who quickly ran into political trouble. This group of Carter friends were nicknamed the "Georgia Mafia" by the media, and seemed to be wholly unable to respond to major issues during the Carter Administration which included the Iranian hostage crisis, the continued energy crisis, and a severe economic downturn. The Nation magazine even referred to economic advisor Alfred Khan's major achievement as growing a mustache during his tenure as main economic policy architect. When Republican Presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan, asked the American public " are you better off now than four years ago?", it spelled the end of the Carter government comprised heavily of friends in major positions of power rather than the most qualified persons. The Bush Administration can learn much from this harsh lesson. If you use government as a place to appoint your friends rather than the most qualified persons, then when geniune challenges come, you cannot respond all that well to them.

Michael Chertoff is a well qualified professional. He made the right decision to appeal to Bush to demote Michael Brown's role as FEMA response head to the Katrina crisis, which is considered by 93% of Americans to be the nation's worst natural disaster ever. A government comprised of friends or major political contributors rather than professionals is not what America needs, and Chertoff at least has enough influence and respect by Bush that his important decision was respected and trusted and actually acted on.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Rush Limbaugh's New Low For Right Wing Talk Radio

Right wing talk radio continues to raise the ante, by increasingly vile dialog and the increasing use of outrageous and wholly unacceptable racially moltivated and antiGay community hate speech attacks. One of the worst of these right wing radio hosts, Rush Limbaugh is facing legal problems due to a prescription drug addiction and cannot even control his own problems, but has made a living by giving advice to others on how he believes the world should be ordered. This last week, Limbaugh decided that in order to remain in the top of the pack of this increasingly hateful medium of right wing talk radio required that he up the ante by using racist language to refer to Mayor Nagin of New Orleans as "Mayor Nagger" on his radio show. This is a regrettable escalation of right wing talk radio hate language.

Compared to prescription drug addict, Rush Limbaugh, Mayor C. Ray Nagin has tried very hard to be an effective mayor of a large and major American city with a 28% poverty problem, and has managed an effective tourist industry to bolster the reputation and finances of his city. In the last year, Mayor Nagon worked with weather research scientists and prepared a disaster preparedness video in 2004 that was supposed to be distributed later this month. Unfortunately hurricane Katrina struck before this video could be distributed. And to fully evacuate citizens from a city this size, nearly 72 hours are really needed, and it was unclear if Katrina's path would directly hit Florida or likely to divert path, as storms often had done. But like his fellow citizens, Mayor Nagin was living like a refugee in a damaged hotel room, with no electricity. It was not until he was invited onboard the USS Iwo Jimo, that this mayor who fought a frustrating weeklong battle to save many lives received his first hot meal, shower and good night's sleep in days. For the most part, Mayor C. Ray Nagin put in a terrific effort that no doubt saved many lives. Not everything went well. But in a disaster, as well in war, not all things do. But Mayor C. Ray Nagin deserves far more praise and thanks than critical attacks for what failed, much of it not his doing or fault.

By comparison, pompous right wing talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh looks like he's never missed a meal. His only real struggle to display his personal courage and strength, he lost to prescription drug addiction. He's absolutely no profile in courage compared to Mayor C. Ray Nagin, a very good mayor whose leadership abilites were tested under a severe disaster than 93% of Americans consider to be the worst natural disaster to hit America.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

How Terrorists Are Getting A Big Break From Alberto Gonzales

Right now much of the nation's attention is focused on the Katrina disaster that has weakened the nation's economy and made the nation far more vulnerable to the after-effects of a sudden surprise terrorist attack. But worst yet, U.S. Attoney General Alberto Gonzales is pursuing Christian right goals and is diverting the attention of Federal law enforcement away from efforts to fight terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime, to instead wage a huge upcoming war on adult entertainment Websites on the Internet and on peer to peer file sharing of adult material.

This has given terrorists, drug gangs, organized crime, public official corruption, a huge break from the U.S. Justice Department efforts and FBI investigations. And while it is difficult to gauge the level of terrorist activity in America at any given point, the two recent incidents in London well prove how terrorist efforts to spread the effects of the Iraq War to other nations is more than likely by terrorists. But the increasing level of meth coming in from Mexico is proof that FBI and other law enforcement efforts are being eased, and this pipeline of drugs are clearly increasing in America. Even criminal organizations seem to be undergoing a growth as criminal activities are now spreading from state of some criminal organizations, and Federal efforts to orderly control immigration have broken down. Thanks to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, serious criminal problems for America are a growth industry while Gonzales is lining up significant Federal policing efforts on a war to stomp out adult entertainment in America.

Most cities now report more and more meth related crime. The state of Oregon must now put some cold and sinus medications that are sold over the counter in other states, not only behind a counter at drug stores, but will also require a doctor's prescription soon in Oregon. Oregon has become perhaps the worst hit of any state with meth crime, and with the help of Christian right Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, these crimes which include burglary and gun crimes are rapidly increasing. Meth is driving the looting of aluminium railing thefts from bridges and roadways to sell as scrap metal for drug money for the meth addicts. An antique train was recently looted of old rare copper parts that will cost a fortune to replace, by meth criminals seeking scrap metal to sell to support the meth crisis that Alberto Gonzales has clearly worsened. Drug related gun battles in the crowded downtown shopping in Portland, Oregon have become a real problem for Portland Mayor Tom Potter, a former Chief Of Police for Portland. Even in nearby Vancouver, Washington, ice cream cart venders are now packing handguns to thwart robberies by meth crazed criminals.

During the Ashcroft term at the Justice Department, efforts to put people like Tommy Chong in jail for selling bongs over the internet were a high priority. 9/11 happened when law enforcement investigation priorites were diverted to nonsense priorities like the Tommy Chong prosecution, and meth and other serious crimes have become a growth industry during the Bush Administration. This will be this Administration's greatest legacy, a growth in meth crime, unregulated immigration allowing a flow of this drug into America, along with dangerous drug gang members and kingpins, and an environment with only spotty investigations of terrorism efforts. This administation's efforts are driving up dangerous problems, leaving local law enforcement with far less investigational tools to try to control problems like meth, and completely unable to investigate and control terrorist organizational efforts.

Even though many in the legal community consider the huge number of adult entertainment Websites a "crime" no worst than spitting gum on a sidewalk, compared to very serious crime and terrorism, U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, has lined up many of the law enforcement efforts to attack adult entertainment in the high crime Miami area. In this area, a Cuban cocaine dealer set up a number of phony credit card, health insurance, phony automobile club and other scams, and even though he was eventually arrested for the cocaine distribution, the scams he operates are mostly still continuing in business despite massive consumer complaint's and even news features by CBS covering these scams. And against the will and better judgements of many in law enforcement and prosecution, Acosta is acting as a major foot-soldier for the Christian right politics of Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales may be partially moltivated by a desire to be elevated to the Supreme Court in this purely political pandering to the irrational politics of the Christian right who put their pet issues above the common sense to prevent terrorism or major crime in America.

Of course, adult entertainment does not represent the best of values, but usually results in little worse than the private sexual gratification of the person involved in viewing such material. Compared to the 9/11 efforts of terrorists which killed 3,000 persons, or the growth of meth crimes, which is leading to gun battles in places like Portland, Oregon, as well as a massive problem with ID theft, including the growth of Internet ID theft schemes to support meth habits, and increases in burglary, the top priority of Alberto Gonzales to satisfy the Christian right by waging a huge war on adult entertainment will only drive serious crime way up in America and roll out a front door welcome mat to would be terrorists and meth crime.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Thank You Gilligan!

Certainly there are many important issues I could discuss today. But much discussion of New Orleans, the Rehnquist death, Iraq or other issues are posted all through the Web on various newsblogs and Websites. Today I want to honor a very funny man who I enjoyed since I was a little kid.

When I was a little guy, Bob Denver first appeared on TV as the funny beatnik, Maynard on Dobie Gillis. I immediately wanted to be a beatnik when I grew up, because I admired Maynard so much I couldn't wait to grow facial hair and be a beatnik too.

But when Bob Denver, became Gilligan, he really shined. No one wanted to be a Gilligan, but everybody loved and admired him. He was a decent, honest young guy, but just as funny as The Three Stooges all folled into one great actor, Bob Denver.

When Gilligan's Island aired from 1964 to 1967, I never missed an episode. And after school I always caught the syndicated reruns and loved and loved each and every one. The whole cast was excellent, but Bob Denver was a comic genius. The writing was hilarious, and Gilligan's screwups were a riot. The critics hated the show as did many at CBS management, but to the public Gilligan's Island was a cult hit.

My favorite episode was the one with the rapid aging meteorite that landed on the island, and the great dream sequence. But the scene with the lead makeup, seemed like a cool "new wave" look to me. Absolutely cool and funny.

In later years, Bob Denver appeared in the awful 1973 TV series, Dusty's Trail, which was simply a really bad lost wagon train version of Gilligan's Island, with Forrest Tucker playing a Skipper-like role, and Bob Denver playing a Gilligan-like role. Other actors played bad versions of the rest of the Gilligan's Island cast. It was perhaps the worst TV show ever aired, and one review even claimed that it made Gilligan's Island look like Citizen Kane by comparison. But it seemed that Bob Denver was type-cast, and Gilligan was always to be his greatest acting role. And that's just fine with the millions and the generations who just loved Bob Denver in this great role.

Thanks so much for the laughs, Bob Denver. You were a great actor who will always be loved.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Halliburton, Ebay, Others Profit From Katrina Disaster

While most Americans are deeply touched and opening their hearts and pocketbooks to help, some others are disgustingly profitting from this disaster. Ebay for example is encouraging listings to help with Katrina relief, however only a few of the listings qualify for Ebay to donate "ad insertion" or "final value fees", so Ebay will profit from many of the listings intended to help the disaster refugees. But for one of America's most greedy companies, this should only be expected. To list an item that sells for a mere 99cents on Ebay, between the Ebay, Paypal(another Ebay owned company that handles cash transactions electronically), and Ebay "final value" fees, Ebay only leaves about 11cents left for the seller or for Katrina relief. On higher priced items, the profit margin for sellers or disaster relief improve, but also so do the Ebay fees. Selling an automobile on Ebay can cost $40 just to list, regardless of whether the car sells or not. If someone wanted to sell a car for Katrina relief, Ebay would come in for plenty of fees from the listing, final value, and from Paypal. This major Wall Street company manages to turn a handy profit, even when it comes to encouraging others to sell for Katrina relief so it can profit from the disaster.

And in a new act of outrage, Paypal(the Ebay owned company) froze the account of that raised $30,000 in a matter of hours for Katrina victims. is now fighting with Paypal to have access to the funds or a refund to the donors. It is estimated that Paypal has profitted from these Katrina donations by charging an outrageous $1,188.37 in transaction fees. But because Paypal is not FDIC regulated, they can freeze or seize any accounts that they wish.

Halliburton not only figured way after way to profit from the Iraq War, but will turn a handy profit as it charges to repair damaged oil platforms in the Gulf Of Mexico. The Port Of Houston is experiencing a surge in business as damage in Louisiana creates a port traffic boom. Major real estate firms are making handy profits from leasing high priced office space to businesses displaced by the Katrina damage. And businesses all the way from hardware stores to hotels are profitting from the crisis.

But fortunately, many are not profitting from the Katrina crisis, but are instead offering help. When Pat Robertson attacked the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, recently, he failed to note that the Venezuela owned Citgo has offered $1 million in aid a few days later. The small but oil wealthly state of Qatar has promised $100 million in aid. Israel has offered help. And Russia offered rescue team help, but Bush refused the offer. Even Wal-Mart, of which I've been a critic of some of their business and labor practices, has stepped up with the promise of millions of dollars of help, which is highly commendable. It may be a fact of life that many will seek to profit from a crisis, including price gougers, con artists and thieves. But still many right thinking decent people and nations will step forth and offer help. God bless all the good people who have stepped up when the chips are down for some.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Multnomah County, Oregon's Answer To The New Orleans Refugee Crisis:Put Them In Jail

The Sheriff of Multnomah County, Oregon, Bernie Giusto has come up with a novel approach to house up to 2,000 New Orleans hurricane refugees; put them in jail.

Like many states that have had budget problems, Oregon is no exception. And in Multnomah County, in North Portland, a brand new jail, the Wapato jail sits empty and unused because after the construction was completed, budget money to run the jail ran out. But compared to other jails this is a very modern facility with no bars on the windows, comfortable beds with mattresses, modern medical and dental facilities. On one hand, this new facility would appear to be a good choice, but the on the other hand many poor people from New Orleans would likely feel deeply insulted by housing them at a jail, even if no door is locked behind them and they are free to come and go at any time.

Portland will put up at least 1,000 refugees in the fomer Washington high school site, with the funding by the Red Cross. And because the crisis is expected to last for weeks or months, Mayor Tom Potter, the former Police Chief, has planned for integration of students into local schools, and job plans for the adults able to work. And as many as 2,000 more hurricane refugees may be put up in the Wapato jail site if approved.

Many other states such as Texas, have put up far more refugees. Texas currently has 139,000 New Orleans flood refugees. If the city of New Orleans is not habitable for months, many of these 139,000 will become residents of Texas for at least a time.

This hurricane and resulting flood has not had the shock value of 9/11, yet the images are shocking in their own way. And even though the President built so much of his 2004 re-election campaign on the ability of the administration to better handle homeland security issues, and has shown a compassionate response to the disaster, still his administration is being heavily blamed for inept handling of the crisis. And while local official's planning also shares much blame, yet the magnitude of the crisis blew away any local emergency planning contingency plans.

The best that can be done is for better planning for a future crisis, such as another natural disaster or a major WMD attack by a terrorist organization in a major American city. The current finger-pointing to blame the crisis is only worthwhile if the next crisis is better planned for.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Rehnquistion Ends

On one hand one feels badly for the illness and eventual death of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. On the other hand, it is the end of one of the worst chapters in American law, where the Supreme Court was routinely abused by Rehnquist to promote his own politicial views, and a close reading of the Constitution or Bill Of Rights was routinely ignored. This was hardly a period of any judicial brilliance, but rather a period of right wing judicial activism.

From often a lonely vote of often goofy dissent, Rehnquist's vote gradually grew on the court as more far right justices like Scalia and Thomas joined the court, gradually building a far right majority of 5-4 on many issues.

On one case Rehnquist decided that even though an attorney for a client on death row had presented last minute late evidence that probably proved the innocence of the client that should have allowed for a new trial, Rehnquist decided that new information was not presented in a more timely manner, and the client should suffer the death penalty anyway. And Rehnquist even noted that client may very well have been innocent of the crime charged, yet wrote the decision allowing for the execution of a man that Rehnquist thought may be innocent of the crime. For Rehnquist, some state evidence deadline was far more important than the fact the man on death row was probably innocent and falsely convicted and about to face execution.

In the 1990 case of Dowling v. United States, Rehnquist sided with the 6-3 majority that decided that a Federal law allowing evidence of a previous trial in which the defendant was acquitted on all counts could be used to help identify the defendant and charge and convict them of another crime using evidence identical to the case in which they were acquitted. Previous rulings related to double jeopardy did not allow this standard.

In Maryland v. Buie, a 7-2 majority with Rehnquist siding in decided a "protective sweep" of a residence could be used to gather evidence by a search of other rooms and areas not covered in an arrest warrant.

In the case of Illinois v. Perkins, a 7-1 majority with Rehnquist in concurrence, decided that police may pose as a fellow inmate to secure a confession and seek evidence and a Miranda notice does not have to be given.

Certainly being tough on crime is one thing, but many rulings that Rehnquist were involved in involve a chipping down of civil liberties that harm all Americans. On Michigan Department Of Police v . Sitz, Rehnquist was part of a majority that decided that police roadblocks could be used to stop all motorists, even though not suspected of any crime, and police could use the roadblock to look for evidence of any crime, including drunk driving.

There were many areas not involving criminal cases in which Rehnquist made an ugly mark on the court and the legal environment.

Even though it was known that Rehnquist supported the racist segregationist standard of "seperate but equal" for education of young Black students, Rehnquist was both nominated for the court by Nixon and confirmed by the Senate. As a justice, Rehnquist continued this racist legacy by weakening the Brown v. Board Of Education ruling by cutting back on enforcement of desegregation, weakened the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, and hurt the goals of Affirmative Action by limiting the ability of minorities to better themselves.

In the area of States Rights, Rehnquist limited the ability of citizen legal actions against a state that blantantly disregards Federal law. And other cases protected outrageous local or state laws that were in conflict with Federal law.

In the case of Bush v. Gore, Rehnquist and the 5-4 majority did not indicate any constitutional support for their decision claiming that equal protection was violated and allowing the stop to a recount in a Florida county that impacted the outcome of the 2000 Presidential election. Al Gore had won the national popular vote by 500,000 votes but scored a narrow 500 vote loss Florida, and thus in the electoral college, and this loss was made more questionable because of ballot problems in Florida where many older voters mistakening ly voted for two candidates due to the wording and layout of the ballot. In 1972, thousands of voters in Arizona mistakeningly voted for both Richard Nixon and Linda Jenness, the Socialist Worker's Party candidate, and a judge was forced to rule that both votes should be counted because of the confused ballot status.

Despite laws against political activity or interference in the election process, supporters of Bush held a noisy demonstration that interferred and created a stop to a recount in a Florida county that was mandated by a Florida State Supreme Court ruling, and the Supreme Court case halted any recount efforts and made Bush president, although he lost the national popular vote. Rehnquist supported "State's Rights" when it weakened Federal law or individual rights, but opposed the Florida Supreme Court when it violated his own support for George Bush. And Justice Thomas's own family was involved in the Bush efforts, yet Thomas did not recuse himself from involvement in the case. There was no intent to fairly decide this case. It was a mere rubber stamp for the politics of Rehnquist.

In other cases, such as Freedom Of Expression, Rehnquist has consistently sided with government controls on free speech that clearly violate the clear language of the Bill Of Rights that specially does not allow for any controls on speech no matter how tasteless or offensive, and specifically the wording not allowing any such laws by "Congress" to restrain such speech. Rehnquist consistently voted his own political leanings, rather than relied on the Constitution or the Bill Of Rights for guidence on his decisions. This is merely right wing judicial activism.

One feels very sad and sorry for the family of Mr. Rehnquist. Yet his rulings had a rotten impact on America. He was not a brilliant justice by any means. He merely used the court to rubber stamp his own political leanings into law regardless of whether constitutional support could be found or not. That is hardly the role of a fair and impartial judge, who fairly rules on cases. Without a doubt the Rehnquist legacy was indeed a rotten one. Rehnquist should never had been nominated to court, let alone made Chief Justice. Next to Watergate, Rehnquist's nomination to the court rated as one of Nixon's worst acts in office.