Sunday, January 28, 2007

Worn in the USA

While this isn't particularly recent news, it does seem to be vastly underreported. Most of us are aware of the wretched conditions that many clothing factories operate under. Some of us have even made deliberate attempts to refrain from supporting companies that make their profits on the backs of slave labor and have chosen to instead spend our own hard earned wages buying American made products, believing that we are not perpetuating the problem. But, unbeknownst to most, many of those same garments are being manufactured in the Mariana Islands, a territory of the United States, and can legally tout the label "Made in the USA".

The overwhelming majority of the workers in the Marianas are immigrants who were promised a better life only to be placed in sweatshops, working long hours under grueling conditions for little pay and with none of the benefits that we have come to enjoy here in the States, albeit seemingly in decline. Many young women, lured with the vow of employment in the restaurant business, have instead been forced into prostitution and some have even been made to undergo abortions.

The Marianas frequent visitors have included Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay. It is often used as a playground for important politicos and DeLay, who squandered countless tax dollars there, after what was to be an oversight tour of conditions there, once announced at a New Year's Eve party attended by many of the factory owners, "You represent everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America."

I doubt that the American public would proudly exclaim that we stand for inhumane working conditions, sex slavery, and forced abortions. Do the people who represent you?

For more information, please see:

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Silent Screams of Women and Girls

Please take the time to read the entire script of this stunning piece by Lily Mazahery. She is a Persian-American Attorney who is also an activist for women's rights.

The Silent Screams of Women and Girls

Iran's new Islamic-guided government has established a system of legalized prostitution, through the practice of "sigheh" or "temporary marriages," by which a mullah arranges a "legal union" between a man and a girl (some as young as nine years old) for a fee. The so-called marriage can last anywhere from one hour to 99 years. Under this system, men are free to enter into as many temporary marriages as they so desire, without having any legal obligation or responsibility toward the women and children that they "marry" only to use as sexual objects and slaves.
Please also take the time to sign the following petitions. There will be English links:

This is an issue completely separate of the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the possible imminent attack on Iran. This is a human rights issue and should not be ignored.

Give Us Your Sick, Give Us Your Poor

One of the issues to be addressed in the upcoming State of the Union Address, not surprisingly, will be the ever increasing health care problem. In another of this president's brilliant plans to help the needy, he has decided that the answer would be to tax the worker on employer provided health insurance. In order to receive a tax break on one's health insurance, you would need to purchase a plan on your own. This comes as no surprise to most of us that non-employer provided medical insurance is offered at a much higher expense and often will not include dental benefits.

The basic concept of the president’s plan is that employer-provided health insurance, now treated as a fringe benefit exempt from taxation, would no longer be entirely tax-free. Workers could be taxed if their coverage exceeded limits set by the government. But the government would also offer a new tax deduction for people buying health insurance on their own.

While he continues to stand firm against rolling back tax relief to multi-billion dollar corporations and wealthy individuals who make their fortunes through investments, apparently he still has no problem letting those of lesser means pay more than their share. This plan would force many to have to opt out of medical insurance altogether and risk the burden of a health affliction or medical emergency creating financial ruin. Thereby, also allowing the employer (Wal-Mart, for instance) to cut back on their expenses by not having to provide insurance to as many workers.

Wouldn't it make more sense, as long as we are continuing to line the pockets of insurance companies rather than opting to move towards a single-payer system, to give the tax breaks to the small businesses to to help them to provide for their employees? How about making insurance companies non-profit organizations? Yeah, I know................

Please see the following story from the New York Times:

Bush Urges Tax to Help Cover the Uninsured

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Department of Injustice

The words "You can't fight City Hall" never have rang so true. If only it were merely City Hall that we were up against. In another long line of resignations and firings to come out of this administration, U.S. Attorney Carol C. Lam has been removed of her duties. She would be the 11th attorney to step down under pressure from the Bush administration. Prior to her appointment as a U.S. Attorney, she served as a Superior Court Judge in San Diego and served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of California. She was also Chief of the Major Frauds Section where she successfully prosecuted the case against supplement maker, Metabolife. Most noteworthy of her accomplishments, however, may be the prosecution of former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA). You may recall his tearful apology for the estimated $2.5 million dollars in bribes he accepted and his yard sale that contained everything from carpets to toilets that were purchased on illegally obtained monies.

Along with Lam, Kevin Ryan, another Bush appointed US Attorney who and former San Fransisco Superior Court Judge, has been asked to resign as well. Of late, Ryan has made it his mission to investigate corporate fraud and criminal conduct. He had been looking into over 25 companies in all.

Due to a provision in the Patriot Act renewal in March 2006, several US Attorneys were appointed without the approval of the Senate. They can, therefore, be made to resign without just cause. In other words, the Department of Justice decides who is fit to judge or prosecute whatever they deem legally fit. And US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez dances merrily as this court's jester.

This country's entire judicial system has been hi-jacked by people that would make the Gottis look like Boy Scouts. And, with the implementation of the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, these and other treasonous crimes have been made into law.

Will it take the Hague to determine what is not acceptable in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?

For additional information, please see:

Monday, January 15, 2007

In Honor Of Martin Luther King Jr.

A great man for a troubled time. Where are our "great men" now?

Why it takes the death of great people for all of us " normal" people to wake up... I will never know.

Watch the entire "I Have A Dream" speech here.

Be at peace but also keep up the fight.

Comments are welcome.

What's Next in Bush's Game of Risk?

Just hours after George W. Bush issued a speech in which he delivered a thinly veiled threat to Iraq's border countries, Iran and Syria, a U.S. led invasion on an Iranian consulate building in Iraq commenced. Legal documents and computers were seized and 5 Iranian diplomats were arrested. Reasons cited by U.S. officials were that the diplomats were involved in providing assistance to insurgents. However, Iraqi sources argue that the charges are false, that the men had held their positions for the last ten years and that the U.S. gave no warning to Iraq that such operations were to take place.

With many Middle Eastern politicos crying foul and that this was an illegal act, the argument could be made that the U.S. has already launched an attack on Iran. In fact, U.S. weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, announced in 2005 that the Bush administration had already begun proceedings to do so. Shortly thereafter, we began hearing about the frightening possibility of Iran seeking nuclear weapons. Sound familiar? According to Ritter, the war in Iraq had begun in 2002, much earlier than the March 2003 invasion that was so widely publicized. When no weapons of mass destruction were discovered in Iraq (as Ritter and David Kay had stated would be the case), it was largely hypothesized that they had been moved to Syria. I guess in this manner, we get a two-fer.

With the "surge" of another 21,500 troops promised by Bush, one has to ask if this is either prudent or effective. We have men and women already mentally and physically exhausted by what are, for some, multiple tours of duty. We will also be pulling troops from Afghanistan where we have been told that the man responsible for an actual attack on the U.S., Osama bin Laden, is still residing. And let's not forget the recent attack in Somalia. All the while our allies have begun pulling their troops out of Iraq if they hadn't already done so.

How long can we continue to close our eyes to the lunacy that is before us? Have we really not learned from what history showed us such a short time ago when a man with the overwhelming desire for global domination nearly brought down the world? Yes, the victors write the history books. Who will be there to tell the story this time?

For more information please see:

And to read the article by Scott Ritter:

Friday, January 12, 2007

Do You Think Bush Finally Gets It?

What do you think? Real tears or is Karl Rove sticking him with a remote controlled pin?


Tears run from the eyes of U.S. President George W. Bush during a ceremony in honor of Medal of Honor winner Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham in the East room of the White House in Washington, January 11, 2007. Cpl. Dunham was killed when he jumped on a grenade to save fellow members of his Marine patrol while serving in Iraq. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED STATES)

Found this on Yahoo:

Thursday, January 11, 2007

First 100 Continued

Well, looks like the Dems are off and running. While I have strong feelings regarding Nancy Pelosi's remarks regarding the possibility of impeachment proceedings (about which I have previously stated), so far, so good on the embarkment of the first 100 hours promise. With the passage of the enactment of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, we've had a nice follow-up:

Minimum Wage Increase:

Date: Jan. 10
Hour: 12
Vote: 315-116
Republicans in Favor: 82

Fund Stem Cell Research:

Date: Jan. 11
Hour: 17
Vote: 253-174
Republicans in Favor: 37

Also of note, but I don't have all of the specifics as of yet are:

Ethics Package (will ban gifts from lobbyists and require full disclosure of earmarks):

Date: Jan. 5
Vote: 232-200

Pay As You Go

Date: Jan.5
Vote: 232-200

To keep abreast as things progress, watch these links:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The First 100 Hours - NY Times

The New York Times has a nice little piece online showing you the main pieces of the Democratic Party agenda for the first 100 hours.

The First 100 Hours
The Democratic leaders of the House of Representative are moving to pass their 100-hour legislative agenda, but the bills will still need Senate approval and President Bush's signature to become law. 

It shows the six main agenda items with the House proposal, the schedule, the Senate's view and the Administration's view.

Under the schedule they will show you when it is scheduled for a vote and if the vote has taken place it will show something like this:

From the vote on the:

Sept. 11

Date: Jan. 9
Hour: 6
Vote: 299-128
Republicans in Favor: 68

They also give you a link in the schedule area for "related" articles.

I am hoping they will keep this updated online at the same web address. This would make this a great link to send out to your friends and family so they can easily see and read the progress of the Democratic Party's "First 100 Hours".

To see and read the whole thing go here:

Monday, January 08, 2007

UN Post-Partisan Depression

Now that the Democrats have taken over Congress and have clearly stated that they will not support to keep the unelected US representative to the United Nations, John Bolton in his post, word is that George W. Bush had decided to nominate his non mustachioed clone,  Zalmay Khalilzad. As you may recall, Khalilzad was a counselor to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (who did a bang-up job) and in 2003 was appointed to be US Ambassador to Afghanistan, where he was accused of swaying the elections to obtain a victory for Hamid Karzai. Both men had given early suppport to the Taliban regime and were advisors to Unocal on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline. Karzai had worked under former US Deputy of Defense and now leader of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, of whom Mr. Khalilzad was also a protege.

In 1998, a letter was sent to President Bill Clinton urging him to attack Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein. This letter was issued by the Project for a New American Century and was signed by, among others, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, and Zalmay Khalilzad. PNAC is an organization dedicated to US global domination using military force and its memberships consist of some the most powerful people in the US government and media (The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol and the Washington Post's Rober Kagan are members). While refraining from attacking Iraq, Clinton chose to instead focus on quashing the efforts al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden.

After a scandalous extra-marital affair that rocked the whitehouse which lead to impeachment hearings, Clinton's term expired and was replaced by the judicially appointed George W. Bush. In a package deal, the citizens of this country were bestowed with his extended family, the good ol' boys of PNAC. As we know, patience and loyalty within the Bush family often pays off and in 2005 Khalilzad was given the role of US Ambassador to Iraq.

For more information, please see:

Can we really trust that someone with the resume that this individual possesses be a fair-minded representative of our nation? Can we also assume that he will work with others to do what is not only in the best interests of the United States, but for the world as a whole? I believe that the naivete of most of the American people and the underhandedness of a few have not served us well. Isn't it time we moved in a new direction?

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Woman's Place is in the House

While still warm in the afterglow of the Democrats regaining power in
the Congress for the first time in 12 years and freeing this country
from the choke hold of a one-party system, it has become clear that the
230 odd year struggle for having a woman at the helm of the U.S. House
of Representatives (still only twice removed removed from the Presidency,
but a victory nonetheless) will still be belittled by some. Not for what she
can do but simply by her gender.

Check out Rush Limbaugh's comments on Nancy Pelosi

I wonder how tolerated comments about fried chicken and watermelon would
be if Barack Obama should become elected as our first black president?
Never mind his intelligence and capabilities. I assume outcries
regarding such deplorable commentaries would rightly emerge, such as
they did in in regards to the ad campaign against Harold Ford, Jr.
Although somehow missing in the observations of the distastefulness of
said ad, was the fact that not only was it racist, but it was sexist as

It never ceases to amaze me just how little our society has grown when
it comes to how we look at others. Particularly when it comes to our
elected officials, I prefer that we look deeply into ethics that they
hold dear and what deeds are done within the power that they wield
rather than the physical description stated on their driver's license.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Shouldn't There Be More? Is Pelosi A Sign Of The Near Future?

Seems there should be more to this list. Women in this country have come a long ways but with the help of the media, some of that has been taken away (just think about it).


Jeanette Rankin, R-Mont., became the first woman elected to the House.

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote.

Rebecca Latimer Felton, D-Ga., became the first woman to serve in the Senate. She was appointed to fill temporarily a vacant seat and served for only two days.

Nellie Tayloe Ross, D-Wyo., became the first woman governor, after she was elected to replace her deceased husband.

Rep. Mae Ella Nolan, R-Calif., became the first woman to chair a congressional committee, when she headed the committee on expenditures in the Post Office Department.

Sen. Hattie Wyatt Caraway, D-Ark., was appointed to the Senate to succeed her deceased husband. She later became the first woman elected to the Senate.

Frances Perkins became the first woman to serve in the Cabinet, when President Roosevelt appointed her secretary of labor.

Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman on the Supreme Court.

Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro, D-N.Y., became the first woman to run on a major party's national ticket, when she was selected by Democrat Walter Mondale as his vice presidential running mate.

Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., becomes first female speaker of the House this week. She became the first woman to head her party in Congress when she was elected House minority leader in 2002.

The preceding list was provided by:
Center for American Women and Politics - Take a look and learn.
Why have we, the most powerful "democracy" in the world, never had a woman president when we had and have many well qualified women that could be president?
Countries of lesser means and so called "third world" countries have had and do have women in the most powerful positions in those countries.
Why not the here in the USA?

I believe the answer lies within the "good old boy" party structure and the degrading and belittling of women through the media.

Are these some of the reasons?
What "sane" voter could ever vote for a woman when so many women let themselves be "used" to titillate?
Worse yet, women who believe they have taken some sort of "power" back by doing these degrading things and using degrading and stereo typing words voluntarily.
Or is it you and I? Are we so blind that we can not reject what the media feeds us? Can we not see the strong and well qualified women in and around our lives and realize that they or someone like them Can Be President?

A Cartoon Gets The Nobel Peace Prize - in 1939

The only cartoon ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, this 1939 Hugh Harman cartoon shows a post-apocalyptic world populated by animals picking up the pieces after a war kills every human on earth.

Tell us your thoughts. How do you feel this cartoon speaks to today? Some of the comments left at the original site of this video seem to come from koolaid drinkers.

Some thoughts by Thom Hartmann:
It was broadcast in the US just after Germany had pre-emptively invaded Poland, a protest against Bush-Iraq-style pre-emptive wars, and before the US was attacked at Pearl Harbor and thus entered WWII.

Remember, 911 is not the same as Pearl Harbor. Bin Laden and the Taleban were not working with Iraq (so 911 has nothing to do with Iraq) but Japan was working with Nazi Germany and Germany had been attacking supply convoys to England.

Orginally found on Thom Hartmann's site.

Video comes from DailyMotion

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

UN Troops in South Sudan Raping Children

While this isn't the first time these allegations have surfaced, I believe that not enough attention has been devoted to it. Unlike our current and soon to be former US representative at the UN, John Bolton, I don't believe that the UN is useless and should be dismantled. However, I do think that it needs to to be revamped in many areas. It needs to be strengthened while being held accountable for all that it does. That would include removal and prosecution of criminals that run amok who are supposed to be stopping the very actions that they themselves are committing.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Objectification 101

Published in the Opinions section in the Dec.29 issue in the New York Times was an insightful piece by Lawrence Downes in regards to a presentation he viewed at a middle school program. It calls into question the roles that are now considered acceptable for our daughters. I find this trend to be disturbing and it is incomprehensible to me that so many fail to see what we're setting these young girls up for. In a world where sexually transmitted diseases (some fatal) are on the increase and one in three females will be sexually abused in their lifetime, is this really a responsible approach to preparing our youth for adulthood?

Whether you believe the accusations of the plaintiff in the Duke University campus rape case or not, shouldn't the question be asked if it is okay to allow these boys to hire women to be used, degraded, and discarded on school grounds? And do we want our young women to believe that is their worth?

Happy New Year, One and All!

And so we say good-bye to another year passed. I can't say that I'm not
more than just a little relieved. On a personal level, this past year
was a continuation of much sadness and loss. On a broader level, that
would seem to hold somewhat true as well. We just closed out another
year of mounting casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan with no end in
sight. There are 48 million Americans without health care and those
numbers seem to be rising. The death and horror continues in Darfur with
nary a mention. And our own unique beloved city of New Orleans still
sits in ruins with no operating hospitals within its city limits and no
electricity or drinking water in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Of course, we were dealt a few new cards as well. Perhaps most important
was the passage of the Military Commissions Act. The little gem that
threw the "quaint" Geneva Conventions Act and Habeas Corpus right out
the window. Yes folks, we can now be labeled enemy combatants and
imprisoned without right to trial or even the right to be informed of
what the charges are against us. Not to mention, the US gets to decide
what we consider torture to be, regardless of the precedent set before
us and, therefore, can administer it as we see fit. Such a fine example
for others to follow.

Despite the aforementioned and other disappointments we've encountered
this year, I do remain cautiously optimistic for the year ahead. After
all, we did end it with a ray of hope. The overwhelming response to the
current administration's deeds were stated clearly by the voters in
November. A sizable feat considering what has become of our electoral
system. The turnout was in proportions to a presidential election year,
something seldom seen in the mid-terms. Republicans lost control of both
the Congress and the Senate and we will soon return to a two party
system. Not a single Democratic incumbent lost their seat. Incredible!

So what does all this mean? Obviously, that remains to be seen. One
thing we do know is that despite what we keep hearing from the talking
heads, the Democrats do have a plan. And while I disagree that it was
the correct thing for Nancy Pelosi to say that the option of impeachment
is off the table, I do keep in mind that the Dems haven't yet taken
control and have had absolutely no power until now and I'm willing to
give them a little time to see what damage they can undo. At the very
least, the first 100 hours that Speaker Pelosi has promised us:

I consider this to be the Democrats' New Year's resolution. So, as
you're vowing to keep your own, please consider one more. Write or call
your elected representatives and let them know you expect them to follow
through on their promises and keep an eye on how they vote on the issues
at hand. Tell when you are unhappy with the way they represent you but
also thank them and give them support when they do what's right.