Basu: Stop wasting tax dollars on abstinence programs
April 20, 2007
"Never has so much money been spent with so little oversight to so little effect. "
From the Common Dreams web site comes this about time news
Sources close to the office of Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) confirm that the progressive Democratic congressman and Democratic presidential aspirant intends to introduce a bill of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 25. The move will mark the second time that an impeachment bill has been submitted against a member of the Bush administration. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) filed a bill of impeachment against President Bush in December of last year, just as the 109th Congress was about to end, and as Rep. McKenney was about to leave office (she was defeated in last November’s election).
Kucinich’s action marks a major step forward for impeachment activists, who have been frustrated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has repeatedly stated that she has no interest in having the House hold impeachment hearings against president or vice president (and who has been leaning hard on Democratic caucus members in the House not to file impeachment bills).
(MG) The clarion cry from the right will be "partisan politics". Perhaps Pelosi fears a backlash. IMO Kucinich's move is far more poltically (and morally) astute. Going after the puppet master, whose approval ratings nationwide at one time hovered around 19%, will feed the appetites of Americans hungry for some one to punish, for the lies of the Iraq invasion, for the firing of the attorneys general.
(MG) Perhaps Pelosi hoped to be able to fashion bi-partisan cooperation in advancing certain agendas that would benefit the majority of Americans. I can never know. You can never know. WHY? is the single most pointless question one might ever ask. Frequently, the perpetrator won't be able to give an honest answer. "The devil made me do it" explanation offered by Flip Wilson so many years ago resonates ... why do we do the dumb things we do? the things we know better than to do? what sometimes leads us like moths to the flame? Far more complicated issues, especially in the face of monumental muck ups. The world is neither black nor white, but containing myriad shades of gray.
By bucking Pelosi and filing his bill, Kucinich may force the mainstream corporate media to start discussing the idea. There has been a virtual blackout on impeachment in the media, which has not even been asking the question in polls, since a year ago, when Pelosi made it clear she had no interest in impeachment.
(MG) Well ... YEAH, there has been a virtual blackout on impeachment in the media. Who owns the media? Rich, white, conservative, republican white guys. Impeach Bush, impeach Cheney, one might encounter a scenario where media consolidation comes back on the table. Where the so-called "death tax" (rich people escaping taxes during their lifetime accumulations of unrealized capital gains) might be extended to even more than the top 1% of wealthiest estates.
Kucinich’s move comes as citizens across the country are bringing impeachment resolutions to town meetings, city councils, Democratic Party county and state committees, and even state legislatures–and getting them passed.
(MG) The ear of Kucinich, and remember, he is from OHIO, which has a lot of residents who are republican by birth. If he's willing to risk the "back lash" from his constiuents, one might assume he has polled them and deems such a move at this time to be in harmony with the "will of the people."
The Democratic Party Establishment has been resisting impeachment, fearing that it could “turn off” independent voters, although the few polls that have been conducted suggest that a majority of Americans, and even not a few Republicans, favor impeaching the president. But as the administration’s scandals have grown in number and seriousness, from financial chicanery to voter suppression to political firings of federal prosecutors to illegal spying on citizens, and as the president’s War in Iraq has lurched from bad to catastrophic, public pressure is mounting for Democrats to take tougher action.
(MG) The pols and the MSM will be the last to know.
Kucinich’s bill may not in itself put Bush’s impeachment back on the Congressional table, but it could whet the public’s appetite for more substantial fare.
(MG) The public's appetite is whetted. Now we merely need to offer up to the MSM corporate republican stenographic opinion writers and editors fare sufficient to get them to gorge themselves at the table of eat the lame duck VP for lunch .. and cheney. Remember back in the days, the joys of roasting Spiro Agnew over an open spirogot?
At least 270 people have been sentenced to death since mid-2004, often after unfair trials the report says, and more than 100 people have been hanged.
Only China, Iran and Pakistan used the death penalty more frequently.
Iraqi officials have dismissed criticism, saying that capital punishment is an intrinsic element of implementing an Islamic criminal code.
(MG) I'd have liked to have seen an interview with an Iman to see just how intrinsic an element capital punishment is to an Islamic criminal code.
One of Iraq's most senior judges, Jafar al-Musawi, said the use of capital punishment was enshrined in the Iraqi constitution. He said that prisoners in Iraq had more rights than in many western countries.
(MG) Enshrined in the Iraqi constitution. Jafar can really twist a phrase. Plus ... Iraqi prisoners had more rights ... so, we've brought the freedom to Iraq to return to the way things were back in the days before the fall of Sadam. So, if things don't work out to well for Jafar, and things don't work out too badly for governor bush, Jafar can be rehabilitated as a GOP speech writer.
A government spokesman said all executions followed the letter of the law and were carried out with total transparency.
(MG) as long as the executions follow the letter of the law and are carried out with total transparency, then I suppose I'll have to be fine with it.
Iraq's interim government reintroduced the death penalty in 2004 saying it would act as a deterrent in view of the grave security situation in Iraq.
However, Amnesty International says the extent of violence has increased rather than diminished, and argues that the death penalty may have contributed to the brutalisation of Iraqi society.
The report cites several cases in which defendants were convicted after trials lasting just one or two hours, on the basis of earlier confessions which they had retracted, saying they were the result of torture.
(MG) and a very efficient court system, which wastes no time coming to verdicts, and has what it takes to elicit confessions ... no namby pamby Miranda gonna stop the show in Iraq.
Many of those given death sentences appeared on an Iraqi television show, Terrorism in the Grip of Justice, which was taken off the air in late 2005 after government ruled that televising confessions was illegal.
(MG) what an interesting reality TV concept.
Many of those appearing on the show bore signs of torture, the report said, and other defendants have alleged that they were tortured before making the confessions.
(MG) efficient police interrogation methods at work. What a legacy we are leaving.
It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in-a Loozianna,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That's how it all begun.
We were -- knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.
The Sergeant said, "Sir, are you sure,
This is the best way back to the base?"
"Sergeant, go on! I forded this river
'Bout a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy but just keep slogging.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.
The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nellie,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination;
Men, follow me, I'll lead on."
We were -- neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.
All at once, the moon clouded over,
We heard a gurgling cry.
A few seconds later, the captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around men!
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the captain dead and gone.
We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know that the water was deeper
Than the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
'Bout a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.
Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!
"The people of the 3rd ward, this victory is really yours," Dowell said.
Another Daley-backed incumbent, Madeline Haithcock (2nd), fell to lawyer Bob Fioretti, and union activist Toni Foulkes took the open seat in the 15th Ward.
"The unions had a lot to do with it," Haithcock said.
In the 49th Ward, the union's biggest council booster, Ald. Joe Moore, claimed victory over Don Gordon late Tuesday with a 138-vote lead and one precinct that could not be counted because of computer problems.
Daley won a landslide victory in February and will maintain the loyalty of most council members. But the union onslaught marked the first serious challenge to his dominance of city politics.
The results of the 12 runoff races could translate into the biggest change in the City Council since nine incumbents lost in 1987. Three incumbents already had lost their seats in the Feb. 27 primary.
Unions sought to claim credit for the sudden volatility in a council that largely has been unquestioningly loyal to Daley for much of his 18-year tenure.
Relations between labor and Daley historically were excellent, but soured in recent years. The feud reached its low point last year, when Daley used his first-ever veto to reject a union-backed ordinance that would have raised wages and benefits at "big-box" retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Target. Daley's veto was sustained after a contentious council vote.
(MG) No community wants to be infected with Wal Mart. Wal Mart comes in, charges cheap, drives out local businesses, pays its employees badly, then raises prices after the competition has all closed shop. This takes local business people out of sustaining themselves in their own communities, and leaves local communities the poorer.
Hoping to fill the power vacuum left by the decline of the pro-Daley patronage armies, unions flooded wards with campaign workers and spent massive amounts for their endorsed candidates.
Jerry Morrison, executive director of SEIU's State Council, said that Tuesday was "a huge night for working families in Chicago."
"We've created a debate in Chicago for the first time," Morrison said. "It was definitely worth the money."
Dennis Gannon, who heads the Chicago Federation of Labor, said it appeared that his group's candidates would win in at least five of eight contests.
"That's a pretty damn good night," Gannon said. "Working men and women want a strong independent voice in the City Council. The people we opposed lacked those attributes."
Mike Noonan, a Democratic political operative who helped several of the mayor's allies in the runoff campaign, said the outcome of the runoff races were determined largely by local concerns, not the big-box issue.
"The difference in this election is that unions were there with huge amounts of money to exploit very vulnerable incumbents," Noonan said. "The aldermen who weren't successful in the runoffs were aldermen who had problems in their wards with constituent services."
Noting the victories of Brookins and Stone, Noonan said, "All the money in the world could not help the unions take down aldermen who were doing their jobs."
The biggest-money campaign between a Daley loyalist and a union-bankrolled challenger was in the 16th Ward, which includes the impoverished Englewood neighborhood on the South Side.
Coleman, the incumbent there, had promised a Wal-Mart store in Englewood if she was re-elected and urged her constituents to reject labor's "economic racism."
Coleman had voted for the big-box ordinance originally, but she switched sides to help Daley preserve his veto, and the mayor campaigned for her in the weeks before the runoff.
(MG) Looks like Coleman's constituency didn't like her decision to vote for "the big-box ordinance. Let's hear it for supporting local business!
But she conceded to Thompson, who received about $500,000 from unions. With 45 of 46 precincts counted in the 16th Ward, Thompson had 57 percent to Coleman's 43 percent.
In the race for the open seat in the 15th Ward, on the Southwest Side, Jewel bakery worker Foulkes defeated Felicia Simmons-Stovall, a lawyer backed by Secretary of State Jesse White. Foulkes, who lobbied for the "living wage" ordinance, won 60 percent of the vote.
"It's a victory for every working family in the ward," said Foulkes, who replaces Ald. Theodore Thomas. "There are enough lawyers and big-business people on the council."
Simmons-Stovall said labor's support for her opponent played a "huge part" in her defeat.
In the 2nd Ward, Fioretti beat Haithcock in a landslide, garnering 66 percent.
"We've got to clean up politics here in the city," said Fioretti, who also was supported by the unions.
Other winners Tuesday included Daley appointee Lona Lane in the 18th Ward and union-backed Ald. Rey Colon (35th).
Labor leaders nervously watched the 49th Ward contest between Moore and Gordon seesaw.
A Moore loss would have severely offset the union gains in other wards. Moore sponsored the big-box ordinance and the foie gras ban, another measure that irked the mayor.
Matlak, the 32nd Ward alderman, declined to concede, even as Waguespack declared a narrow victory.
"It's still very close," Matlak said as the final returns came in. "We all expected that."
Ald. Michael Chandler's seat also appeared to be in danger in the 24th Ward on the West Side. With 56 of 59 precincts reporting, challenger Sharon Denise Dixon had almost 52 percent.
lyrical postscript: Joe Hill
Joe Hill was memorialized in a tribute poem written about him c. 1930 by Alfred Hayes titled "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night", sometimes referred to simply as "Joe Hill". Hayes's lyrics were turned into a song in 1936 by Earl Robinson. The usual lyrics to the song go:
In contemplating the near-certain downfall of Paul Wolfowitz, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. Does one weep at the outrageous hypocrisy of it all: the president of the World Bank, self-appointed apostle of “good governance” and scourge of corruption, caught in a blatant act of nepotism and cronyism - exactly the vices he wants to stamp out in the Third World countries his organisation lends money to?
Or does one roar with laughter at the incongruity of it all: sex at the World Bank, as Wolfowitz the cerebral ideas man (even if his ideas about Iraq were as misbegotten as they get) is brought down by matters of the flesh, as he arranged promotions and lavish pay rises for his girlfriend Shaha Riza?
Or does one simply lie back and enjoy the spectacle of a president hissed at and heckled as he tried to explain himself to his staff at an impromptu meeting in the front atrium on Thursday? Is this how international development experts behave? Has there ever been such a lowering of the tone at the annual spring meetings of the bank and the IMF here, normally devoted to less emotional matters, such as debt reduction formulae, exchange rate aberrations and discreetly expensive lunches?
Not, of course, that one should feel too sorry for bank employees themselves, whose handsome tax-free salaries and generous allowances must soften the pain of working even for a boss like Mr Wolfowitz. As for Ms Riza, on the bank’s payroll but on secondment to the State Department, she received a rise last year from $132,000 (£66,500) to $193,000, a higher salary than even the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice (and Condi pays taxes).