September 26, 2005
The BuzzFlash Mailbag
The opinions expressed in the Mailbag are not necessarily those of BuzzFlash. Read the BuzzFlash FAQ for info on submitting to the Mailbag.
Just came from the DC rally, BuzzFlash has it wrong . . . but they may be quoting AP . . . who also got it wrong . . . That 'twern't no 100,000. CNN was closer (if a tad high) they said 600,000.
[BuzzFlash Note: We've seen a number of articles out there with an estimate of 300,000.]
It was not 100,000 at protest, it was easily more like 300,000. I was there. The streets were overflowing for hours and hours. Please fix your headline. 100,000 is way off.
[BuzzFlash Note: See also our link to 500,000 People Vanish in Washington, DC (Detroit News). And, of course, many towns held additional local protests over the weekend.]
Subject: 24 SEP 05
I was not one of the over 100,000 in Washington DC today. Instead, I went to a townhall meeting by the local GOP Congressman. I wondered if, given the homeland security response to VFP volunteers at Camp Casey III in Louisiana, that perhaps I might be excluded from the meeting when I showed up in a VFP t-shirt with a sticker on it reading 1,914 KIA FOR A LIE?
Not quite, but I was intercepted just inside the door by a woman whose business card ID'd her as the Constituent Services Director. Such a fancy title for what was essentially the Congressman's schmoozer. She flashed a big smile that I did not return and said "I see you're a veteran, what war did you serve in?" The focus of her conversation was to try to make it all about me. She was unable to keep it confined to that when I kept bringing the conversation back to policy issues. When asked "are you a disabled veteran?" I replied that no, I was one of over the half million Category 8 veterans made ineligible for VA healthcare services by the Bush administration.
Apparently there was still a turnip stuck in my collar from the truck I had just fallen off from, as she told me "Actually those cuts were made by the VA Director, not President Bush." Perhaps she mistakenly assumed that I had attended public school in Texas, usually ranked about 46th in per capita spending among the states, and so I might not be expected to know that the VA Director is appointed by the President? Her smile faded a bit and she had no snappy replies for me when I again redirected the focus to issues rather than myself by asking why the Congressman had voted for a VA budget that was a services reduction in real dollar terms with the proposed closing of seven VA hospitals in a time of war?
She lost her smile altogether when I expressed concern for the estimated 30% of returning troops from Afghanistan& Iraq with PTSD issues. I left her with that to think about and went to stand at the back of the room rather than take a chair. I wanted to make sure the Congressman could read my t-shirt from the stage over the seated crowd of mostly elderly people, with the occasional Texas big hair lady, soccer moms who looked like they just stepped from their Ford Expeditions, and some regular middle class looking folks there with less than easy questions for the Congressman.
I was apparently considered the major security / public relations risk, as the only two guys in the room other than the Congressman wearing suits positioned themselves standing on either side of me. The entire meeting was scheduled to last for only an hour, with the Congressman's spiel taking up the first 30 minutes. No doubt the intent was to limit the event to a meaningless photo op?
The first couple guys in line to ask questions wasted much of the time when they tried to turn it into a debate for which they wanted a resolution, rather than a simple Q&A session. While they had some valid issues on gay rights and spending priorities, their debate style ate up much of the time, forcing the Constituent Services Director to cut them off and pass the microphone to the next questioner.
She handed me the mike with a stern look and told me "Only ONE question!" So I had to pass on opening with asking about the fairness of Congress being exempt from social security deductions and drawing their salary for life with cost of living adjustments as a retirement plan. I limited my only question allowed to: Given that the Downing Street Memo proved what many of us suspected about nonexistent WMD's being used as a cover story for an attempt to control Iraqi oil; And given that the result of this attempted oil grab is a drop in Iraqi oil production from pre-war levels, as well as $3/gallon gasoline at home; And given that the current administration policy claiming that we need to stay the course in Iraq to prevent a civil war ignores the fact that a state of civil war already exists in Iraq; WHY HAVE YOU NOT CALLED FOR BRINGING OUR TROOPS HOME IMMEDIATELY?
That was about as diplomatic as I get. I edited a few words like "lies," "propaganda," & "neocon" out of my first draft in consideration of the primarily GOP supporter audience. I was pleasantly surprised by the audience reaction with only one person booing me and about one third of those present clapping and cheering my question. It was the only question that elicited such an audience response. I hope that such was not lost on the Congressman?
Anticipating a question on Iraq, he used my question as a springboard for his canned pitch on the subject. We were treated to a verbose and flowery five minute spiel that could be summarized as "progress is being made." Apparently it was hoped that the voters have a short attention span and do not recall THERE IS A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL from 35 years ago?
There were three power point slides to go along with the Congressman's Iraq spiel. The first was a destroyed Iraqi electrical generator. Apparently we were supposed to think it was lack of operator maintenance, and not the US Air Force that destroyed the generator? The second slide was a new replacement generator, made by Siemens, which has a local production facility here in North Texas. No mention was made of how many hours a day, or how many days a week that they actually have electric service now in Iraq. The third slide was an Iraqi child "waving" from a rooftop to the helicopter that took the Congressman to visit the electric generator. Never mind that the kid looked to me like he was actually shaking a fist at the helicopter. Such details can be subjective from a photo snapped from a helicopter at 2,000 feet altitude.
Again, no mention of if progress is being made in Iraq as claimed, then why did the Congressman travel by helicopter and armored vehicle for his visit? Would not a real politician in an Iraq grateful to be liberated want to walk the streets and shake hands with the people?
I just heard on the NBC News at 4:00 PM that, "the people being evacuated, are actually taking this evacuation seriously this time!" as well as, "Despite a few problems, the evacuation has been a great success!" I thought I was hearing things, and then it was said again. Obviously the Rove twist here is that New Orleans did not pay enough attention to the urgent call from the white house, to evacuate in time during Katrina.
Does this administration truly believe that they can use this now occurring disaster, as a PR stunt, to shift the appearance of blame from their grossly inept non-response to the last national disaster? And lower yet, it appears that they are trying to accomplish this, by implying that that they had all offered help during the first disaster, to Katrina victims, who ignored them. My guess is that Dubya is doing some serious drinking these days, and Rove is his drinking buddy. Just a guess.
David R. Anselm, Jr.
Subject: Hypocrite of the Week
I really enjoy your web site. Who is this Chang? I guess it proves that Jeb is unbalanced and going around the hypocritical bend, as it were. Thanks again for a great web site.
A BuzzFlash Reader
[BuzzFlash Note: This explanation was posted at Mark Crispin Miller's blog: "Chang is a mystical warrior cited in Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War'. It's a really popular book among conservatives. Liberals would do well to read it." Note that the Amazon reviews include: "Remember Sun-tzu's advice: 'Though effective, appear to be ineffective.'"]
Subject: New name
From now on, with a very, very, very few exceptions, I will refer to those on Capitol Hill as the POLITICAL WHORES. It amazes me how a bunch of liars, hypocrites and crooks have managed to gather in a single building. When is it that the "many" will find the courage to tell the "few" ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
Subject: A State Kegger, Er, Dinner
I tend to fixate on details. So much easier to grasp than the big picture, sometimes. For instance, it was during the 2000 electoral skirmish of November-December that I learned that Bush didn't get his own passport until he was 40. When I heard this, I knew we were doomed. That little fact speaks so much to what we've seen come true. A wealth of personal resources and no inclination to learn a thing about the world we live in. Not even Ibiza for God's sake.
Last year, I heard that the Bushes haven't been hosting State Dinners. (I think they had three in the first term). Think of that. Every other administration has used the State Dinner as a tool of diplomacy, as a way to promote American culture, to honor foreigners and Americans of distinction alike. Imagine the Kennedys without the State Dinner, or the Reagans for that matter.
I, too, have believed that Bush has been hitting the booze. I also believe he's snorting, and probably hitting Rush up for some oxycontin (can't run any more, bad knees, remember?)
Now, I think they don't have the State Dinners because he's probably tanked by 7, and Laura tells us, in bed by 9. This is one federal employee that needs to undergo some mandatory drug testing.
Subject: PUCs [Persons Under Control] and America
They say it's pronounced 'pucks'...I pronounce it 'pukes', because that is my first reaction to the stories coming out about further abuse of detainees.
Can anyone doubt now that this administration is in violation of international law? That we have criminals at the helm of our country? Oh sure, they'll blame it on a few bad apples, but it's obvious that the sickness begins at the highest levels.
"As the captain puts it, according to the report: "I witnessed violations of the Geneva Conventions that I knew were violations of the Geneva Conventions when they happened but I was under the impression that that was U.S. policy at the time."
And no doubt it was US policy. Our government is sick. Out of control. What we have done can never be forgiven.
I hope the protests on the 24th can tip the balance. I hope we can get beyond the insanity of our current government. I hope we all live to see Duh-bya and his cronies disgraced and prosecuted for the crimes they have committed against the world.
I hope future generations can forgive us.
New Accounts of Torture by U.S. Troops:
Soldiers Say Failures by Command Led to Abuse
Subject: False Economies
Most people know what a false economy is but many in congress, it seems, do not. For the record, a false economy is a cost cutting measure that saves some money, but ends up costing more. For example: deciding not to drive any more to save on gas money, only to end up spending even more money on bus fare, train tickets and taxis than you ever spent on gas. False economies most often represent the triumph of narrow interests and/or short-term thinking over broad vision and long-term planning; which brings us back to the current conservative congress.
Fiscal conservatives in the current congress have long complained about the huge deficits the Bush regime has been running. The fact that those deficits are the product of tax cuts those selfsame conservatives supported is irrelevant to them; their ideology calls for tax cuts so tax cuts are what they gave us. Now faced with the massive spending requirements of post Katrina reconstruction these conservatives are howling even louder, while still claiming their tax cuts should be untouchable. “I think if we were going to address the issue of taxes, it would be almost a cop out. What we need to do is cut spending and waste before we ask the American people to pay more taxes.” Senator John McCain.
Sigh… John McCain isn’t a bad sort, and I’m sure that the cuts he’s envisioning would come from genuinely wasteful programs. Unfortunately, what McCain fails to understand is that cuts will never come from politically protected pork barrel projects. Such programs are created in the first place because they have politically powerful patrons. Patrons who are sufficiently shameless that even the tragedy of Katrina will not sway them from fighting tooth and nail to protect their pet projects. You can call this a cop out or you can call it political reality. Indeed it seems this reality was recognized by the House Majority Leader Tom DeLay when he recently claimed there was no fat left to trim. DeLay’s assertion is absurd on its face and one would be tempted to write it off as nothing more than political grandstanding, but the congressman didn’t become a major player in his party by being a fatuous fool. He is in fact a canny politician and his statement constitutes a tacit admission that the Republican Party lacks the political will to force its more powerful members to give up their pork.
If the spending cuts McCain and others are calling for cannot be made in genuinely wasteful but politically protected programs, the only place they can come from are the politically vulnerable programs vital to the poor. Conservatives are ideologically opposed to such social programs anyway, which will make them all the more tempting.
The fact that millions of Americans depend on those programs for their very survival will not make a bit of difference. After all, millions depended on FEMA and that didn’t keep conservatives from down-sizing it. Indeed, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) just released a list of proposed spending cuts they call “Operation Offset,” which among other things proposes cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and school lunches. In all fairness to the RSC, they do suggest cutting some genuinely wasteful programs, like the Mr. Bush’s 40 billion dollar Prescription Drug boondoggle and the egregious pork barrel earmarks in the recent highway bill, but what person in their right mind would expect those to be on the chopping block when their patrons in congress are asked to make “Operation Offset” a reality?
Getting back to my point about false economies and the short-term trumping long-term dynamic often involved; it should be noted that “liberal agenda” social programs and pork barrel spending aren’t the only things that the RSC has set its sights upon. They proposed eliminating the National Science Foundation Math and Science Program; a program that promotes math and science education by improving teacher training and developing instructional material. Given that Indian and Chinese universities are now graduating more engineers than American universities, cutting programs that boost science and math will undermine our nation's long-term competitiveness. They’ve proposed eliminating the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, the Clean Coal Program and the Applied Research for Renewable Energy Sources Program. Given the fuel crisis hurricane Katrina has caused and the threat to our national security our dependence on foreign oil represents, such energy research programs are now more important than ever.
And finally they’ve proposed eliminating the Domestic Dependent School System, which provides education to the children of this nation’s fighting men and women. Given the tremendous strain the Iraq war has placed on military recruitment I can’t think of a worse time to make military life even less attractive. It is worth noting that one thing which doesn’t appear in the Rational Reforms to Defense and Homeland Security section is eliminating Mr. Bush’s multi-billion dollar non-functioning Missile Defense System. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of missile defense in concept, but I think we should get the technology working before we pay to deploy it.
The saddest thing about the RSC’s Operation Offset pipedream isn’t that most of the cuts they’re proposing won’t happen, or that the ones which might would hurt the most vulnerable of America’s citizens. What makes it pathetic is that they are only being proposed as an argument against rolling back Mr. Bush’s ideologically motivated and thoroughly unnecessary tax cuts.
Conservatives believe that taxation is equivalent to theft and that any tax hike will drag down the economy, but history refutes those ideas. The 1990’s was arguably one of the most, if not the most prosperous decade in U.S. history. To claim that returning to the tax levels we had at that time would cripple the U.S. economy is completely ridiculous, yet that is the argument conservatives have been making for 5 years.
If their crackpot ideology was still relegated to the political fringe they would just be funny, but they’re in charge now and with the lunatics running the asylum it's no surprise our nation has gotten poorer and weaker. Now, as our nation faces one of the greatest challenges in its history, isn’t it about time we reversed that trend?
Subject: Nickled and Pennied
Even in the 'service industry' employees are replaced periodically by entry level wage earners. College is becoming just another way to keep the kids off the streets for a few more years. But with the skills-based military draft coming-- College will become a part of boot camp.
Subject: Frist Family Corrupt Company
Let's not forget (as news articles about the new Frist-HCA insider-trading scandal apparently have) that Hospital Corporation of America, the Frist "family business," whose tanking stock multibillionaire "Dr Video" just dumped has been in trouble before, for big-time Medicare fraud (and Medicaid and Tricare).
See this January 2003 article on "The Bad Doctor" (LA Weekly)
It's even in Wikipedia!
Even if HCA's books were honest, and even if Frist hadn't cheated on trades, how ethical is it for a doctor to profit so richly in the "medical-industrial complex"? Osler, he's not.
Subject: Mark Shields on John Roberts
I was extremely surprised that Mark Shields condemned the Democrats who voted against John Roberts on the Sept 23 News Hour. In the past, I have found his comments extremely insightful. I sent the letter bellow.
A BuzzFlash Regular
Subject: Separated by a Common Language?
It is sometimes necessary to remind those who are trying to persuade the public that liberal ideas are good for our country that they often speak a different language than those they are trying to convince.
Kafka? Do you think people who watch the vast amount of drivel on television have any idea what the hell you are talking about? We already know that most of them think that the press is comprised of elitist snobs that look down on ordinary people. So talking over their heads is a surefire way to convince them they’re right.
One thing I noticed was that while our liberal leaders would be outraged at any derogatory term for an African American or a Hispanic, they seemed to ignore Lynndie England being called a hillbilly or a dumb hillbilly. Do you think that southerners failed to notice that fact? Ignorant and stupid are not synonyms, you elitist snobs.
You want to know how to talk to NASCAR dads? Listen to Jeff Foxworthy. He is an intelligent comedian who has taken his dead-on observance of ordinary southerners and made them laugh at themselves. If you don’t know who the hell Jeff Foxworthy is, you only prove my point that you don’t know the people you‘re trying to reach.
Howard Dean may have not said what he wanted to say in exactly the right way, but his sentiment about reaching the guy driving around in a pickup truck with a confederate flag bumper sticker was right on.
Bush with his background of wealth and privilege has nothing in common with these people who are convinced that he does. Tell them about it! Tell them in short declarative sentences. Stop trying to prove to us that you can write erudite treatises. We could care less. Jon Stewart does more with one punch line than all the intellectual hogwash ever written.
Don’t articulate your message; tell. Don’t talk about neo-cons, talk about liars. Don’t talk about agendas, talk sneaky plans. Put it out there in plain language and people will get the message. Keep it simple stupid. Bush has, and it worked.
Keep the highfaluting language for those of us who are political junkies and pride ourselves on political speak. Blue collar America is too busy trying to survive to have time to look all the fancy words up in their dictionaries.
Marjorie L. Swanson
Subject: Mime Magazine Article
Couldn't live without you guys. However, when you link to a Time article that lists an unnamed source...Seems hypocritical at best.
Pattern of Abuse (Time)
Fight Ignorance: Stop buying corporate crap. (read Time)
[BuzzFlash Note: There are endless credible reports and sources detailing abuse, such as The New Yorker, which we've linked to, so we don't feel too bad about including Time Magazine's report, too. Maybe you would prefer the Human Rights Watch account, posted here?]
Subject: Mailbag 9/23
To Shirley...St Louis, From the Buzzreader who said that 9 people in robes are no match for MILLIONS OF CITIZENS WHO REFUSE TO BE OPPRESSED: You are afraid of John Roberts because of what happened in the past with Bush v Gore. We were not then and are probably not now willing to take to the streets and engage in civil disobedience on a large scale.
But do you think ANY governmental body could withstand it if it happened? The power DOES rest in the people, but we have to be willing to use it, and use it outside normal channels when those have failed. THAT'S when we will stop being treated like sheep in this country.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Editorial About Bush
That was a good editorial about Bush, Rove, Cheney, and Rumsfeld re Katrina and the disaster that is America these days.
I just wanted to point out that anyone who thinks "KatrinaRita" was expensive should try to imagine what the war in Iraq is costing Iraq. What can someone do with 200 billion dollars in bombs? Probably cause several TRILLION dollars in damage, and that's not to mention the damage the terrorists have been causing!
It's a very sad state of affairs.
Thanks again for being on the ball.
Russell D Hoffman
Subject: Should US Corporations Be Nervous?
The German elections results are confusing for Americans, but the 'neo-liberal', Ayn Rand garbage that Bush and Greenspan have been using to destroy America is being rejected there.
Germans are voting for economic justice for ordinary people. We should too.
Sally Rand (not Ayn)
Subject: Re Porn Initiative..... Bush's Media Is Subsidized by Soft Core
Everyone knows that Fox broadcasts a lot of trash TV, but in fact the soft-core porn they sell in the UK helps to subsidize the pro-bush propaganda in the US.
For example in 2004...
Here's the 'tabloid Sun.' The print version is similar to the online version.
Does Rev Dobson know about this when he goes on Fox?
Does Pat know about this little problem when he goes on Fox?
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: This Dylan Quote Sums It Up For Me
Myself, I've decided that it's "them!"
Pope Bandar Bin Turtle
Subject: DC Antiwar Rally - Intolerable Censorship!
Such a shallow yet blatant attempt at censorship. So we go to C-SPAN & DDot and other cams to witness this massive turnout. You really can't hide the truth by burying this significant event by Hurricane Rita coverage or college football. A rather large demographic representing an even larger one is sick and tired of this oppressive regime we call the Bush Administration and we know what you're up to - if you don't cover it - it didn't happen. How misguided. It truly is the United State of Shame.
Subject: Investigation of Katrina
Our local Republican congressional representative, Bill Shuster, who is on a committee investigating the response to Hurricane Katrina, was quoted in our local newspaper as follows:
Could anyone possible believe that this elected official (who represents me in Congress) is capable of being part of a team determining the review of the emergency response by George Bush and his FEMA to this catastrophe? Could we now understand why George Bush wants his own people to investigate and report to the public?
Subject: There's Something Wrong With One of Your Links
The browser shows it as pointing to: http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/currentevents/a/katrinaquotes.htm
But it points to: http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx...
There's a big difference between these two articles? Are your links being hacked?
A BuzzFlash Reader
[BuzzFlash Note: Maybe--but it's also highly possible we blew it.]
Subject: Still Got It.........
"Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Any More" © John Prine
CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF THE SEPTEMBER 26, 2005 BUZZFLASH MAILBAG
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