Thursday, November 29, 2007

One Base At A Time

On Monday, the “war czar” Lieutenant General Douglas Lute said that establishing permanent military installations in Iraq would be a “key item” for US-Iraqi negotiations on long-term security ties next year. Today, the Administration’s in-house mouthpiece Dana Perino denied that there were any such plans for permanent bases in Iraq. So which is it? Either we are or we aren’t. It’s very disturbing that people within the same administration, who should all be on the same page, aren’t.

Remember that Donald Rumsfeld, then US Defense Secretary, said in an April 21, 2003 press conference: "I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting. ... The likelihood of it seems to me to be so low that it does not surprise me that it's never been discussed in my presence, to my knowledge. Why do I say it's low? Well, we've got all kinds of options and opportunities in that part of the world to locate forces, it's not like we need a new place. We have plenty of friends and plenty of ability to work with them and have locations for things that help to contribute to stability in the region. ... “He repeated the denial on February 17, 2005, when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee, "I can assure you that we have no intention at the present time of putting permanent bases in Iraq." Knowing how long it takes to implement such a plan, we can safely assume that Rumsfeld, along with the rest of the Administration, was lying again.

The Administration has shown, time and again that what it says and what it does are very often very different. In spite of it‘s denials, the fact is that it continues to plan and construct bases that are built to be permanent, because tucked away in the fine print of an $82 billion appropriations bill passed by Congress in May provides for “the Army to provide temporary facilities, and in some very limited cases, permanent facilities… These facilities include barracks, administrative space, vehicle maintenance facilities, aviation facilities, mobilization-demobilization barracks, and community support facilities." But while Congress won’t even discuss the idea of permanent bases, they will talk about “enduring bases.” What’s the difference? And guess who has the no bid contracts for most of the work to build them? Why, KBR of course.

The American Embassy currently under construction in Baghdad rivals the size of the downtown areas of many mid-sized American cities. Combining the presence of so many bases and the personnel necessary to man and maintain them with the presence of such a huge embassy in a country so small (roughly the size or smaller than most of our Western and Midwestern states) is suspicious at best. As of 2003, the US had 730 permanent military bases in 50 countries around the world, and active duty personnel in dozens of other countries. Why? Some of those countries even have their own militaries, or at least the ability to form them, so our presence there would seem unnecessary.

Looking at a map of the world marking those countries where we have permanent military bases, it looks like we have essentially divided the globe up into chunks small enough that we can get soldiers from those bases to anywhere at almost a moment’s notice--again, why? It reminds me of the way firehouses and police stations in most cities are located to shorten response times in emergencies. Spreading representatives in the form of soldiers and their bases is the tactic of empires seeking domination, not the tactic of democracies helping to spread freedom among the other nations of the world.

Where is the outrage from the Democrats at these ‘enduring bases’? Or have they become a part of this empire building fiasco also? Because all of this empire building would not be such a bad thing were it actually in the cause of freeing the people of the world from tyranny. But we can no longer delude ourselves that this is this administration's intent. Not with a tyrant sitting in the White House taking away our freedoms here at home. Batmanchester

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Operation Digital Angel

It's funny how we miss the huge issues streaking toward us as we go about our daily lives. As most of us, myself included, worry about the issues before us today, we almost never see the controversial subject creeping slowly and insidiously into our lives until they're already upon us.

For years now, the readers of future trends have been screaming from the rooftops about RFID chips, and how the intention is to eventually implant a chip into every human being on the planet as well as everything that is manufactured on the planet. RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, is already implanted in many of the items you purchase from major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Tesco, Sam's Club, K-Mart, and many more. The chip, about the size of a grain of sand, had usually only been able to track an item from what's called a reader device from up to about 100 feet away. But not any more.

Not content with being able to track every item you buy, the VeriChip Corporation gave a press release today that along with their partners, Digital Angel Corporation, they have developed a working glucose based chip that can be safely implanted in humans on a cheap and mass scale. Operation Digital Angel doesn't just intend to implant a chip identifier in your body in order to help you when you go to the doctor, but they intend to be able to track you wherever you are, whatever you're doing, whomever you're with, and so on and so on. The eventual intent is to have the chip be used as your identification, your monetary system, your entire life will revolve around your implant.

They're quietly moving towards this goal by integrating with programs such as Google's GPS mapping service they recently unveiled for cell phones. That's the service from Google where you can push a button on your cell phone, and it will tell you, within 200 feet, exactly where you are. Or where the nearest coffee shop is. You know, in case you're lost. Unknown to most people however, is the fact that your query was just entered into a massive digital data base, where it will be stored forever just in case the authorities ever decide they need to know exactly where you were that day. Claiming that their system doesn't include personal data about the user's query, Google admits that it does log the user's unique identifier code, which means, duh, they know who you are.

VeriChip is now in negotiations with Google, and who else but the U.S. government, to use satellite tracking in conjunction with the Digital Angel chips in order to be able to pinpoint exactly, to within inches, where you are and what you're doing.

Sounds crazy doesn't it? Not if you stop and think about it. OnStar already has the ability, using GPS and RFID chips implanted in your vehicle, to know your exact position at all times. The computerized system constantly relays information between the vehicle and OnStar. For your safety of course.

People receiving new passports will have an RFID chip in them. The new National ID card that's being rejected by some states will have an RFID tracking chip in it. Why, even the Gillette razors you bought at Walgreens yesterday have an RFID tracking chip, so the company can track the demographics of where the item was purchased, and where it went after the purchase was made. The new supermarket discount card you sign up for has a chip in it also, as well as your new credit cards. As you walk into a store, you always notice those anti-theft devices at the store entrance. What you don't know, is that the newer ones also have an RFID reader in them, which is scanning your clothes, your pockets, your wallets and purses, in order to identify what type of customer you are, and your purchase preferences. Where that's leading is to the implementation of 'targeted advertising'. The scanner will detect your purchasing tastes, and when you go to a display, it will pop up an advertisement directed just at you. The new cash coming out will have RFID chips in them, the reason being to track your anonymous purchases by way of a reader at the bank scanning your bills, and a reader at the store scanning them. This way, they'll know who had the money, and where it was spent.

Katherine Albrecht wrote a book about all of this called Spy Chips, which I read a couple of years ago. At the time, I was dubious as to just how fast they could actually come up with a system of which she spoke, without anyone noticing or without the people rising up in mass protests. I assumed it would be at least a generation away.

But after watching the new trends, and following the stories, and reading just today's story about the Google tracking system in today's N.Y. Times, and discovering today that VeriChip intends to announce their newest technological advance in the field of human implantation at the Grand Hyatt in New York on December 4th, as well as Digital Angel's own company mission statement of getting these devices into everyone within the next ten years, well, it's time to sound the alarms.

They've already been experimenting with these chips by implanting them in pets and BABIES. Right now, all of this is voluntary. But as they move the monetary system over to the chip based credit/debit system, you will no longer have a choice. You get a chip, or you don't participate in society. And if all of this doesn't make you angry, or afraid of where we are heading, or if it sounds like so much science fiction, remember this: They want you to not believe this is coming. Stealth is the name of the game here, even as information is slowly released about these chips, it's played up in the corporate controlled media as something that's for your own good. Science fiction? So were televisions, cell phones,computers, space ships, cars, airplanes, and any number of technological advances at one time.

Operation Digital Angel. The name should say it all for you. Batmanchester

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A New War On Terror

Remembering the echoes of the words spoken by the Bush Administration before the war in Iraq ever started, one must wonder at just how forgetful the American people have become, and where their sense of outrage and injustice has gone.

On Jan. 19th, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld boldly declared that the Iraq conflict would cost no more than 50 billion dollars. Easily forgotten now that Rumsfeld is no longer in the public eye, but the fact remains that this was the view of the entire administration, with some going so far as to say that the war would pay for itself in the form of Iraqi oil. We now know that all of this was smoke and mirrors, better known as outright lies. The 'war on terror' has cost the United States over a trillion dollars and counting.

As Bush demands more money for his phony war, the war designed to suppress the production of Iraq's oil in order to allow for record profits for his oil baron friends, he terrorizes our own country in the form of legislation meant to implement the beginning foundations of the squashing of all voices of dissent. We'll save that for another day, but today, let's look at what all of that war money would have bought us.

First, according to The National Priorities Project, it could have paid for almost 300 million children to have health insurance for a year. Or it could have covered every child in the country for more than five years.

Twenty three million people could have gone to college for four years, fully paid for.

63 million kids could have had a year of head start.

We could have added 8.5 million teachers to our schools.

Or we could have used the money to build 4.5 million new housing units.

To go further than that, if our intent in the world is to be truly helpful and neighborly like, we could have started programs in virtually every poor nation on earth to help them have clean drinking water, grow their own food, and give the the technological know how to bring themselves up out of the stone age. But those are not our priorities.

We could have taken the old Equinox car, you know the one, it runs on water, but was killed by the oil companies, and perfected it to the point that we could be laughing at the oil producing states by now, as they swam in vast reserves of useless black gold.

Instead, we received vast tax cuts for the rich, on the blatant lie of trickle down economics. Trickle down economics is the theory that if the rich have more money to invest, it will create more growth, because in their benevolence, they'll share that wealth with the rest of us in the form of health benefits, pay increases, and the creation of new jobs for all. Only it doesn't work that way. Benevolence among the super rich is rare and the only jobs they created were the slave labor jobs in China, India, Thailand, Pakistan, Columbia, Guatemala, etc.

According to Bush's own words in a speech recently explaining his veto of the new funding for LIHEAP, and SCHIP, the programs designed to keep Americans from freezing to death and fund health care for kids, he rationalized the vetoes as well as further tax cuts for the rich by stating that the cuts would enable small business owners to provide health insurance for their employees. Oh. And poor Americans already have health care, he added, they're alled emergency rooms. So I decided to fact check him on that.

I called 50 businesses, ranging from privately owned corner gas stations, to mom and pop grocery stores, restaurants, hardware stores, you name it, I called them. The answers that I received as to how well their employees were covered by company health insurance due to Bush's tax cuts ranged from laughter at the very idea that the tax cuts had made any impact on their bottom line, to those who said it wasn't their responsibility to provide health care. I could not find even one small business owner who had implemented a health insurance program due to any tax cuts. Indeed, I found many of them were laying people off, because they couldn't afford to pay the high price of heating and cooling, let alone pay for health insurance. So, the notion of tax cuts being beneficial to small businesses is a cynical way of suckering the people into going along with his give away to the rich.

So Bush is fighting a war of terrorism all right. But it's a war on the American people. Oh. I know. You're going to come back with the far right position of fighting them over there, blah, blah, blah. But this was a war of choice, not a war because of any threat. The threat was actually stemming from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, so we went ahead and bombed Iraq. Al-Quaeda's safe haven was Afghanistan, so we shoved them aside, and invaded Iraq. Now the Taliban is in charge of over half of the country again, with their eye on retaking Kabul, the capitol. So, how is this a war on terror again?

We need a new war on terror. One that stops this administration from victimizing the poor and the middle class here at home, and concentrates our efforts on rooting out the true terrorists in the world. But that would take a radical change in ideology from this President, and he could care less about the poor or the middle class. The fact is, these new Republicans will speak platitudes to your face, then try to destroy the very foundation and backbone of our country. Someone even suggested to me yesterday that outsourcing all of our jobs was good for the country. Oh. I see. How silly of me. Sending our good paying jobs overseas and replacing them with Wal-Mart jobs is good for the country. Sure. If you're a super rich corporate CEO, who gets paid in the hundreds of millions of dollars range. Batmanchester

Monday, November 26, 2007

Taking Back America

In order to give any sort of analysis on what must be done to reverse the damage done by the Bush Administration, one must first truly take a look into the havoc he has caused. Without even going into the Patriot Acts, or other declarations and signings made by the President that erode out freedoms, all we need look at is the damage that has been to our middle class, and it becomes obvious what the cynical agenda has always been for this administration. The destruction of our country.

By using the so called 'fast track authority' given to him by the then Republican controlled Congress, our President has signed 'free trade' deals with Canada and Mexico that effectively erode the sovereignty of the United States. Already building the Texas Superhighway, that stretch of road will eventually lead from southern Mexico to northern Canada, eliminating the borders of our three countries, and creating the North American Union. Do you suppose that's why they're only paying lip service to anything that resembles border security? The Democrats have not only refused to take this 'fast track' authority away from Bush, but openly encourage an open border policy. Two parties. One voice. And it's not for the American people.

In one of the biggest ripoffs ever conceived in this nation's history, the plan to privatize Social Security moves forward quietly behind the scenes in such a way that no one even notices it. Looking across the country, all one needs to see is that in many states, it is the insurance industry that now runs almost every aspect of medical care for recipients of Medicaid and Medicare. What used to be an ordinary trip to the doctor, now must be cleared through an HMO, with the HMO directing the doctor on what medicines they will pay for and what they won't. The states that subscribe o this massive scam now charge the recipients of Social Security and in most states that have this plan the recipients of welfare, what they all a 'nominal charge' to visit the doctor, or to receive prescription drugs. This 'nominal charge' can pretty much ensure that the person for whom the medical aid was intended, will never receive it, because for what little programs such as Social Security and welfare actually give to recipients, how are they supposed to afford co-pays? The entire idea behind the programs was to give relief, not become a burden on those it's intended to help. But, the insurance industry makes sure to give big dollar political donations, so no one wants to reverse this hideous rip off of the poor.

During the Bush years, we have had fiats proclaiming some workers not eligible for over time, the erosion of the people's ability to form unions, more trickle down down economics, ( the theory being if you give a ton of money to the rich, it'll trickle down to the rest of society, only that doesn't happen.), we even had a declaration that workers going to the areas affected by Katrina were not protected by minimum wage laws, while at the same time, the corporations have enjoyed the windfalls of massive tax breaks, along with the largest subsidies, (read corporate welfare), in the nation's history.

Where am I going with all of this? Simple. If they can effectively bankrupt the nation by outsourcing our jobs, spending every dime they can get their hands on, destroying the very tax revenue we use to run the country, thereby running up these obscene deficits, they can then point and say "We can't afford to keep all of these social programs, privatize everything!" And the people, fearing a collapse, become willing to sacrifice their own self interests, while these hyenas laugh in your face.

So what to do? The answers are right in front of us. First, before anything else, we need to start paying attention to what these guys are up to. They are pitting us against each other every single day. They pit white against black by telling white people that blacks are getting all the good jobs, without mentioning they shipped all of the jobs to China, India, Thailand, Pakistan, etc. They tell working class men that it's women stealing their jobs, pitting gender against gender, race against race. They tell us it's all the gay people who are destroying this country, while half of them are gay themselves! Or it's abortion, or some other triviality. Thereby fueling a fire that has nothing to do with the way our country is being run. And distort the Constitution of our country, (what's left of it), by declaring that if you're against an integration of church and state, against domestic spying, or against pre-emptive war, you must be anti-American. Does anyone really believe this garbage?

The middle class and the poor need to fight back by taking the power away from these madmen. Vote for someone who will work in YOUR interests, and not the interests of the few at the top.

Make them restore 40 hour work weeks for everyone, the right to join a union, and over time pay for everyone.

Force them to abandon this North American Union idea, before there really are no borders, or any jobs left at all.

We need a single payer health care system, whether you believe it's socialised medicine is irrelevant. Wait till you or yours gets sick and the insurance company tells you that it's an 'experimental' treatment, and they're not paying.

Rebuild the infrastructure of the country by creating good jobs that are dedicated to rebuilding bridges, roads, mass transit, and affordable housing for all.

We need a new New Deal in this country, and we have yet to hear more than platitudes from those running for President. The only way to take back America, is to demand that our elected officials hear us and understand hat we are serious. Get those questions before the candidates at he next debates, both Democratic and Republican, and let's hear their answers. Batmanchester

Friday, November 23, 2007

Huckabee Would Be Worse Than Bush

Another one of the candidates emerging from the shadows to become a real threat to the 'top tier' GOP candidates is none other than Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. Ringing soundly with right wing 'Christian' voters, (the 'Christian' voters who call for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, say 9/11 was the fault of lesbians, gays, and well, you know the rest) is Huckabee's assertions that he would get Roe v. Wade overturned.

The gambit here is quite obvious, and hopefully will be seen through by voters across the country. Huckabee knows he has no chance whatsoever in the general election, and so he tries to concentrate all of his energy into the Iowa primary, hoping to finish with a surprise win, or at least a strong showing. In this manner, he can position himself for the Vice-Presidential nod, and should that happen, we are screwed once again. Here's why.

Huckabee makes absolutely no distinction between his brand of 'Christianity', and the Presidency of the United States. He strongly believes that his religion should be the ruling force behind everything he does. So, instead of a President who merely pays lip service to his religion running his life, we'd have a true fanatical right winger in the White House, with Pat Robertson making regular White House visits to consult with the President.

Under a Huckabee Administration, women would lose their right to choose, sending them back to the alleys, and coat hangar days. This decision was made years ago, but the wing nuts who want control over every aspect of your life just keep plugging away, hoping that someday they can pack the Supreme Court with like minded wing nuts. Oh. Right. They've already done that.

On health care, Huckabee advocates for the elimination of job based health benefits, opting instead for mandatory private insurance, whether you can afford it or not. That's Romney's and Hillary's plan, and it didn't work in Massachusetts, where they are struggling to dismantle Romney's boondoggle, so what in the world makes Huckabee support this? Could it be the insurance and medical industries that are paying big bucks into his campaign coffers?

Believing in globalization, Huckabee wants to cut Big Businesses taxes even more. Eliminating Social Security, the IRS, Medicare and Medicaid are also on the top of the list for Huckabee, another in a long line of candidates who are using the 'blame it all on the poor' game.

Unwavering and unconditional support for Israel will be the mantra of a Huckabee Administration. Despite the fact that we send 6 billion dollars a year in aid to Israel, and they use that money to suppress the Palestinian people, road blocking all chances for peace, this government has never truly taken the Israelis to account for their actions. So Huckabee would support Israel no matter what they did, like say, unilaterally bombing other countries.

Using the scare tactics of the last 6 years, Huckabee warns supporters of the Islamic threat to our freedom. Spouting the tried and true Rove party line of fear, fear, fear, and scare them to death political nonsense, he declares boldly that they hate us because we are a free people. What garbage! We're a little more sophisticated to fall for this one again.

But at least he's all for saving the Big Oil companies and Agri-Businesses. He actually believes that Americans should be using their tax dollars to increase the current corporate welfare system, while he advocates for dismantling programs for the poor. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Jesus say something about helping the poor? How 'Christian' like to take away what little they have now and give it to the rich.

But more than anything, at a time when our deficits are skyrocketing and our national debt is astronomically high, all we need to do is look at Mike Huckabee's record as Governor of Arkansas. During his time in Little Rock, the CATO Institute says that spending under Huckabee's administration increased at three times the rate of inflation, leaving yet another deficit in state coffers. This is what he wants to bring to the nation as a whole. More misery.

Combine all of this with his support of teaching creationism in public schools, disregarding scientific facts, and what we have here is another right wing fanatic, willing to say anything, promise anything, use religion, fear and scare tactics, and who talks to God on his cell phone. We don't need any more of this malarkey in this country. We need a drastic change of direction and Mike Huckabee only offers more of the same and worse. It is my sincere hope that all of those who are seeking alternatives to the 'top tier' candidates will see through Huckabee the Huckster, and not give this guy even a foot in the door. Batmanchester

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Driving Those Turkeys Crazy

While not your traditional Thanksgiving piece about family, love, huge meals, or how to cook them, this little ditty is still a story of being thankful for some of the happenings or about to happen events.

We can be thankful first and foremost today for the advent of the age of the internet. For without it, we would still be communicating our thoughts and ideas over telephone lines and fax machines, which means we'd still be in the dark about our world and what is really going on. With a nod to Bill Gates, Al Gore, or whoever it was that actually did invent the internet, (I could find out, but the Packers are playing soon, you do understand?), I thank you people and respectfully bow before the altar of my monitor.

Today, we're thankful that the nightmare of the Bush Administration only has a year or so to go, and hopefully we can undo some of the damage he has done. We'll be more thankful if the Congress would do more to keep him and his people in check, like impeaching them all. Luckily, the people are awakening, and driving those turkeys crazy via emails and petitions, and for that we should all be very thankful.

Today's football games are a great reason to be thanking the powers that be, because today's big game is actually a BIG game and not another bust of a dust up as in so many recent years.

Thanking some of the media would be in order also, for their sudden realization that the Saudis may not be our friends after all, they're just the Bush family's friends and business partners, which we have been confusing as one and the same thing since 9/11. Just ask the military. They know where most of the foreign fighters in Iraq are coming from.

The oil companies and OPEC deserve the entire world's thanks, as they are helping the environment by driving the price of oil through the roof, and making it harder to drive your car, thereby reducing green house gas emissions. Sure, they had to lie to us, and scam us into accepting the higher prices by suppressing the production of Iraq's oil, and getting the Saudis to go along with it, but don't worry, they're not done yet. Be thankful that it won't be until next year when gas goes to about $3.75 or $4.00.

Be glad and give thanks to the government of China for allowing us to have such cheap imports by being willing to enslave their own people. Now that's what I call progressing towards a new world order. Oh, wait. They took our jobs to do all that, as did India and Pakistan, but look on the bright side. Now you can learn to speak their languages in case you ever need customer service for anything. See? New world order, we're all one big happy family.

Thanking God or whatever deity you worship is also in order that we don't live in Sudan or Darfur, where a mass genocide is still going on despite recent advances by the African Union in getting everyone to sit down and talk. Al-Bashir plays his games and suckers the world once again, and the slaughter of the innocents continues unabated.

But most of all, today is the day that we can thank each other. For all of our faults, all of our misguided backing of the fool from Crawford, and all of our differences, we still come together with love and compassion in our hearts at least a few days out of the year. We even remember the poor and the homeless on these days, and some of us actually go and help out at a shelter or a church, and I suppose we must be thankful for that much. The poor would be a lot more thankful if we remembered them year round, and actually stopped the government from funding their wars by taking away from those who are the most vulnerable.

Not meaning to ruin your appetite, I'll close this by saying thank you to the rest of the country for still being America, and for recognizing that we are in trouble. And for getting involved in extraordinary numbers to try to stop the neo-cons from getting us all killed. Now it's time for some pumpkin pie. Yes. Before dinner. Only way to go. Batmanchester

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Time He Is A' Biden

Gleefully watching the media backed 'top tier candidates' self explode while attacking each other like players in some weird three person tennis match, Joe Biden has a lot to be thankful for this November. Pretty much ignored by the MSM, Biden has been busy doing his campaigning the old fashioned way, beating feet to get his message out. In just the next two weeks alone, Mr. Biden will be racing across the state of Iowa, from Des Moines in the center, to Iowa City in the eastern part of the state, all the way back across to Council Bluffs (next to Omaha), before finally making his way back to Des Moines. That doesn't say anything of the small towns he'll be stopping in along the way. Touring like a rock star in some of these smaller towns, such as Albia, Iowa, Biden gets down and talks to the average citizen in local restaurants like The White Buffalo.
People respond to being recognized, and this grass roots type of campaigning touches to the core of what elections used to be about, mainly placing a person to an office of responsibility, and not some made for television glamour show. And so Joe Biden takes his time, knowing full well how voters can burn out on these long exposed candidates, and may end up turning to someone they see as fresh and new, even if he's been campaigning along side of them all. Funny how voters are that way.
But who is this man, and what does he stand for? Let's check the record.
On health care, Biden's plan looks impressive on the surface. It's laid out point by point, doesn't try to hide anything, and appears to be pretty comprehensive. The only parts of it that I really don't like are the ones that still include the insurance industry in the decision making process. We've all seen how the HMO's and insurance companies have acted in denying coverage to people, and so this must be changed, not encouraged or perpetuated.
Iraq. This touchy subject divides many in America, with most agreeing that we need to withdraw and get our troops home, but how to accomplish that without getting more of them killed, and having Iraq plunge into complete chaos? Biden's plan makes sense. Although he voted to go into Iraq in the first place, he has admitted that mistake, unlike Clinton, and has a very well thought out plan that doesn't plunge the entire region into a protracted war, with us in the middle, and may actually be a plan for success, unlike our glorious leader's solution of sending more Americans to die needlessly. I don't know, but maybe someone who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee might just know something about this issue. I know that sounds crazy, but well, experience used to count for something in this country.
Even on issues such as education, homeland security, dealing with foreign countries, energy initiatives, and climate change, Biden's approach is laid out there for all to see, if anyone has a mind to go to his campaign web site and look over how he approaches each issue. But the one interesting issue that truly struck a chord with me, and should strike one with all of the candidates, no matter who wins, is Biden's plan to bring the internet into every American home, including low income ones. The recognition of the internet as the new medium by which Americans are getting their information is visionary, and Biden and Kucinich are the only ones that don't just speak platitudes to this important realization, but actually have plans to move forward in this area.
Sure, Biden isn't perfect. He's a gaffe machine who steps in it all the time. But, somewhere along the line, I believe we have to stop trying to play the game of 'gotcha' with candidates that offer viable alternatives to the buy the Presidency ones. Biden knows this, and although he hasn't quite convinced me yet, I am listening to what he has to say, as should we all. It's imperative that all of us check on all of the candidates for ourselves, and not take at face value what we're told in 30 second sound bites, or other media that do what this article has done. Give snapshots and glimpses. Check out every candidate's web site, see where they stand, and then go around the net and see what their detractors are saying. And then double check what they say against places like the Thomas Register, (Congressional Record), newspaper accounts, what they themselves have said and what their actions have been.
Although people on the right like to say that Biden is a racist because of his stupid 7-11 remark, that's nonsense, and those making those statements know it. Look at Biden's Senate record and I think that will be cleared up right away. Unlike some of the candidates now running, Biden has been consistent in his voting for minority rights, and women's rights all along. Some of the others running can't say the same thing, eh, Mr. Huckabee?
As far as Joe Biden is concerned, this intelligent, humorous, pull no punches man, is whistling along the campaign trail, just waiting until one of the others falls flat on their face, remembering that there's still an entire year to go, and voters are a fickle bunch to be sure. We'll be waiting at the end of the road, Joe. We raced out ahead of you. Batmanchester

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

America's Least Compassionate City

In determining which city did the least to help it's poor and downtrodden to get back on their feet, I used the same formula in which I came up with America's most compassionate city. And this city, America's least compassionate, should have a lot to answer for as it moves closer and closer to the national spotlight during this early primary season.

Manchester, New Hampshire is a city with a vibrant tone to it's day to day activities. The nightlife moves to a beat not unlike Boston, about fifty miles to the south. Tall buildings downtown, with pizza parlors on almost every corner give this place a uniquely North Eastern feel. The city becomes a hub for political activists every election cycle, as New Hampshire tries desperately to hold on to it's first in the nation status.

But this city has a dirty little secret. It's a secret they don't want anyone to talk about as that spotlight comes swinging back towards them with the approach of the primaries, and the candidates come to town, bringing with them the national and international media. This city has the worst record of all the cities that I researched in their treatment of their poor.

The main facility that the downtrodden must pass through to gain access to almost all other services in the city of Manchester is a dingy, depressing building called New Horizons, located not too far off of Elm street, the city's heart. On this dirty, filthy street is an abandoned building, New Horizons, and an auto mechanic shop. During most of the year, no one is allowed into the building until 3:15 in the afternoon, which is what time they serve dinner for people 50 years of age or older. An hour later it's the general public feeding, with workers barking out orders like concentration camp guards. Indeed, the only smiles you'll see during the entire experience are the ones on the faces of the church volunteers who are serving the meal, as those being served avoid eye contact with shelter workers for fear of being kicked out for perceived slights against the staff.

When it comes time to open the doors for night time check in at 6 p.m., all, men and women alike, line up in a stairway that goes to the third floor. After checking in, they may go back down to the dining hall, to play cards, read or go outside to smoke. But if you go outside, you may not re-enter until bed time, which is at 8 p.m. At 7:45 p.m., amidst general brow beating by the shelter staff, the men are hustled off to grab mats and blankets, and bring them back to the dining room, then the women go grab theirs and are hustled off to another floor to bed down for the night. At 8 p.m. or thereabouts, it's lights out, no talking, on the floor of this dirty building. But, if you are lucky enough to have a job, you can EARN your way to getting a bunk upstairs on the third floor. At 5:30 a.m., it's wake up time, a quick cup of coffee and a stale donut, and at 6 a.m., it's out the door. It doesn't matter that nothing really opens in the city of Manchester until at least 9, with most businesses not opening until 10, out they go into the day, with no where to go, at least not any more.

See, there used to be a little bar run by an old woman with a heart of gold, who made it her personal mission to give people a place to hang out until things started to open up. It was two blocks away from this nightmare 'shelter'. Yes, she sold cheap beer, but she also sold coffee for 25 cents and a cup of hot soup for 50 cents, and if you were broke, that was fine also, the homeless could just sit and hang out until the time was right to get moving along on the day.

The shelter managers hated this place, as did the police, the mayor, and the city council. How dare this woman give shelter to the very people they are encouraging to leave to town? So they made excuses, and before you knew it, Geoff's Place was shut down as 'a public nuisance.'

When temperatures drop below thirty degrees, the shelter opens it's doors during the day. Residents may sit in the basement, with all of their belongings, and attempt to sty warm as they are berated by staff for more perceived infractions. The 'health clinic' they have is so much of a farce, that most do not bother, as it consists of a nurse looking you over, pronouncing you healthy, and the next one comes through.

For women in Manchester, if you are homeless, have a job, and at least two hundred dollars in the bank, there is Angie's Place. No children allowed. No men allowed. Now, I don't know bout anyone else, but if you have a job, and two hundred dollars in the bank, it would seem to be rather hard to end up homeless. Maybe not. Another shelter that is barely a step up from New Horizons, the women are sheltered in cubicle type rooms, that afford very little privacy, but they do have much more freedom than those staying at the other. Thy can pretty much come and go as they please.

The area food bank is run out of New Horizons, with area residents lining up around the block on distribution days, only to leave there with about 2 days worth of food, consisting mainly of bread, cakes, and other junk foods. They can only use this service once a month, so they will wait until desperation takes hold to show up for a box. And although donations pour into the warehouse part of the building, only those who can show proof of a need, and a verifiable address are allowed in, and even then it's usually not worth the effort. A staff member, who clearly has more important things to do, will ask the person what exactly it is that's needed. Not allowing for the people being served to actually see what's in the warehouse, the staff member will go and try to find that specific item, and bring it back to the person. The item. In a warehouse full of items. That just sit there. Not being given to anyone, but sitting there.

The case managers are responsible at New Horizons for giving out referral slips to other agencies such as St. Vincent De Paul, where you can receive one pair of shoes, 2 shirts, one pair of pants, one hat, one pair of gloves, and if needed, one jacket. Most don't bother using this service any more, as it's placed too far away from downtown, and not worth the hassle.

For those suffering from mental health conditions, and if they are suicidal, there is the Greater Manchester Mental Health service, who runs a crisis center. This sham is another in the newest fad of turning away people who don't have insurance, even though they are reimbursed by the state. There was a case last year wherein a man sliced his wrists on a Tuesday, inside the facility, and was released on Wed., no longer considered a threat to himself. On Thursday, he committed suicide, but hey, the crisis center saved money, so all is well.

Even at the city run welfare office, (not to be confused with the state's welfare office, this is a mandated by law welfare office that every town in New Hampshire must have to take care of emergencies that may arise in people's lives), there is no help for the poor. State officials, having looked the other way for years, began to try to investigate the amount of people that were actually being helped by the city welfare office, but they kept getting blocked by Manchester Mayor Guinta, who said that Manchester takes care of it's own. The office was set up to house the homeless when the shelter was full, but doesn't. They are supposed to help people obtain subscription medicine, but they won't pay for most of them. They are supposed to help prevent evictions, utility shut offs, etc., but instead, after leaving people waiting in their tiny little office for hour after after, sometimes 9 or more hours, they usually come back with a referral to another agency, who will tell the person there is no money to help them. So, if this is the case, why are these charities or the welfare office open? Who is receiving the money there Mr. Guinta? Because according to official expenditure reports, almost all of the money given to the Manchester Welfare Office was handed out. It just wasn't handed out to those it was supposed to go to.

Lastly, although I could write about the deplorable treatment of the poor here forever, there is the little known fact that virtually all of Manchester's poor live in conditions that would have made Russians and all third world countries feel better about themselves. Rooming houses are as much a part of Manchester as is the Raddisson Hotel. Rents average about 150 dollars per week for one room, no bathroom, no kitchen. Some are in renovated houses, sectioned off into rooms, with sheet rock walls, while others are 4 and 5 story buildings with as many as 100 or more rooms to them. There is usually one bathroom per floor, with as many as 50 people sharing it. In most cases, there will be one communal kitchen for the entire building, which means that most people living in that building won't bother trying to cook, as waiting for an oven could mean hours, so instead opt for fast food and pizza.

This is the city that is show casing itself before the nation just in time for the elections. A city that could care less if their poor have food, shelter, or other basic life necessities. What I'm pointing out is that we are programmed to believe certain things about certain areas of the country, but that doesn't make them true. Everyone sees the Northeast as a bastion of bleeding heart liberalism, and that is just not the case. In running this little research program, the conclusion can actually be reached that it's the Midwest that has the most compassion for their fellow Americans in this country, based on how much help is available to the poor, the quality of that help available, and how that help is delivered.

Manchester should be ashamed of itself for the way they treat their downtrodden, and as far as first in the nation status, they should also add a category for worst city in America if you're poor, ahead even of New Orleans. Batmanchester

Monday, November 19, 2007

America's Most Compassionate City

Using a criteria based on several factors, such as a population of 250,000 or more, services available per capita, quality of services, and access to services, I have come up with America's Most Compassionate City. It's not a city that most would think of in this day and age of made up divisions like 'red' states, 'blue' states, or the increasingly popular 'purple' state terms thrown about by talking heads in MSM.

Founded in 1856, Lincoln, Nebraska quickly grew to the seat of local government, and was named the capitol of the state in 1867. Nebraska, having lagged behind the rest of the country in services for the poor and disabled for decades, in recent years has done so much to reverse that stigma, that they can rightly be proud of their achievements and accomplishments. Here's some of what this 'red' state city does to help those less fortunate, not just around the holiday season, but year round.

One of Lincoln's largest and most comprehensive programs for the poor is run by The People's City Mission, and before you say "Oh, not another religion based organization.", I want to point out that this organization does not try to force religion down anyone's throat, but tries, as best they can, to provide food, shelter, and life necessities to those in need. They are not a 'mission' in the traditional sense of the word, as they run not just a men's homeless shelter, but also provide housing to families, battered women, run a day program for the homeless that provides additional help in transiting from poverty to self-sufficiency, have a drug and alcohol rehab program, run a medical center that provides check ups, eye and dental care, help in obtaining medicine, and bases it all on a sliding scale fee, which means that if you're broke, you don't pay. Area doctors, nurses, and other professionals donate their time and money to this effort. They also run one of the country's best distribution centers for the poor, handing out food, clothing, furniture, hygiene items, household knick knacks, and more, all donated by a community that deems it their responsibility to be their brothers and sisters' keepers. Major food chains donate food to be distributed, as well as area restaurants.

This, in and of itself would seem to be a lot for a city of this size to be doing for their less fortunate, but not content with this, the city goes much further. They have several 'soup' kitchens, although calling them soup kitchens doesn't adequately describe what they actually do. Providing quality meals and comprehensive services is the main facility called The Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach Center, who also provides another on site health clinic, basic and emergency needs, and doesn't make people go through extensive 'criteria' to obtain services like some of the national charities do. A quick check through The Charity Navigator also shows that a full 90 per cent of all donations go directly into the programs they are intended for, again unlike the major national charities, and a report is provided to the public every year to account for expenditures. No fancy Mercedes for the directors of Lincoln's charitable endeavors, and no million dollar salaries either.

But this is still not enough. To ensure that no one in this city ever has to go hungry, the area churches started their own version of Food Net. On any day of the week, including weekends, one can call a number to find out which churches are giving out food baskets on that day. And we're not talking about going in and receiving a ready made up basket that contains items that are placed in by volunteers. The area food stores, restaurants, and food banks, as well as distributors, all chip in items every week, and it gets taken to the Food Net sites, where those in need go around in an orderly fashion and pick out the items they can use. They may go to any Food Net site on the days they are distributing, with no limit to how many times they may use this service, again, (and I love pointing this out) unlike the national charities.

On top of this, due to the state of Nebraska's own recognition that it wasn't doing enough to help those in need, their programs designed to help the disabled have so vastly improved over the last ten years, that they are being copied by other states. More recent additions to this city of compassion is a program designed to help the addicted get their lives back in order called CenterPointe, which provides housing, help with their addictions, counseling, job and training referrals, and much more.

Combine all of this with the work done by the national charitable organizations, and one would have to conclude that this is, if not The most compassionate city in America, then it surely ranks as one of them. Having been all over this country at various times, having been a director for homeless programs before, and having researched over 100 cities in order to compile data, I can tell you that Lincoln is a model for the country, and should be emulated by others. Unlike other places where the down trodden are shunned and discarded, Lincoln embraces their helpless, and gives them the resources to become productive members of the community again. Maybe that's how they are able to keep rents and housing prices so low, their utility costs so cheap, and for the city itself to thrive in these times of uncertainty. Because instead of resentful people, who see those who have shoving those who do not out of their way, this point of light city reaches out to those who have not, gives to them in extraordinary ways, and tells them that their lives have value, which in turn breeds not contempt, but hope, not hate, but a chance for a brighter future for every one in their community. A salute to their achievements and their enlightenment is in order this holiday season. Batmanchester

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Hillary, Obama, Edwards Circus Act

No longer even pretending impartiality during last night's so called Democratic 'debate', CNN's ringmaster Blitzer spent practically the entire first half of the town hall meeting allowing Hillary Clinton to get away with not answering the questions put to her, but dancing around everything like a ballerina. With the audience packed full of Hillary's supporters, (I can't imagine how that happened), it becomes clear once again that we the people will not be allowed to get an unbiased snap shot of the candidates until a true debate is held by an unbiased third party media, such as PBS. And we'll never hear what each candidate truly stands for, and who's trying to play both sides of any issue until they hold debates on each of the issues separately.

Having noted that Blitzer gave as much speaking time as possible to the media's favorite candidates, it should also be noted that there appeared to be an active attempt to stifle what the others in the circus ring had to stay, most notable of which was the point at which we all knew that Kucinich was going to say THAT word again, and Blitzer sputteringly kept saying "Alright, Ok, Alright," in an attempt to prevent the man from speaking. He did say it however, Impeachment, and the stacked audience made a fool out of Blitzer by standing and cheering for Kucinich. The rest of the candidates just shuffled their feet, not having the courage of their convictions. Even in their story on their web site, CNN makes absolutely no mention of this, which is a shameful case of yellow journalism. Only Mike Gravel agreed with Kucinich, as anyone who watched his webcast, running alongside the made for television talking points show already knows.

Indeed, even on the CNN web site, in their "Highlights" header to this story, they list Clinton, Obama, and Edwards only, and even in the story itself, they don't get around to talking about the other candidates and what they had to say, until about three quarters of the way through the "All Hail The Queen" monologue. And even at the end of the article, there are links underneath it that lead the reader to either of only three of the candidates, but none of the others. Can you guess which ones they are?

This blatant campaigning for certain candidates by the media has to stop. We are supposed to be able to believe and to trust what we are told, and in these times of utter uncertainty on the part of the people, if we can not depend on unbiased reporting by the very people that are supposed to be guarding us against just this type of hooliganism, then every American had better start checking out the facts on each and every candidate for themselves, including the ones that the media has discarded for you.

And so, it becomes incumbent upon us to take back the power from the media also. It is us, the viewers and the readers, those of us who know how to make web sites, and even just the surfers, who must write and call our media outlets and demand they hold fair and open forums, and cut out the obvious favoritism. To give every candidate equal time, without allowing some to go on speaking long after their time allotted, and others to get cut short before they have finished their answer.

The media might also try to concentrate a little more effort into telling us the backgrounds of each candidate, and give us poor bloggers a break from doing their job for them. They get paid to do just that, most bloggers don't. I'm talking about the little things, like Clinton's record, Obama's sudden memory loss about documents pertaining to his time as Illinois legislator, or Edwards' flip flopping like a fish out of water on almost all of the issues.

To sum up, to everyone who at least tuned in to hear what the missing candidate had to say, good for you. An informed voter won't make the same mistakes we've made in the past. As to the substance of what was said last night by the candidates, only Biden, Dodd, Kucinich, and Gravel gave straight answers, and let us know where they stand. Richardson is running for Vice-President and should just bow out now. Clinton, Edwards, and Obama are all just skirting the questions and giving sound bites, hoping that the media will clean up what they say the next day. In fact, Obama's mentioning of Warren Buffet last night cost him my vote altogether, Hillary sounded like a whiny little child, (They're mudslinging!Waaaaa!), and Edwards came across as undecided. Debate? What debate?

And to the media, stop trying to slant the conversations to try to push forward a corporate agenda. These political versions of 'Dancing With The Stars' are little more than propaganda fests, with little substance, no answers, the exclusion of candidates who aren't rich, and the attempt to steer the people, (we are not the electorate, we are the people) towards the corporations' choices as the path to least resistance. We need information, and the people have a ton of sources to get it from. If we can't get a fair and balanced discussion from our fourth estate, we may as well just watch the Fox Comedy Channel. Because the rest of this stuff is pure hogwash.

Hopefully we'll see some changes at the next 'debate'. If not, then maybe it's time to organize a People's Debate online. One in which every candidate is allowed to speak to each question being asked, given the time to finish their answers, includes all of the candidates, and not just those with money, and has moderators who don't try to make some candidates look good, while asking other candidates idiotic questions. Some of us are keeping track. Batmanchester

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jail For Rove, Not 4th Estate

Not satisfied in bringing ruin and agony to the nation, former White House brain himself, Karl Rove, will begin writing columns for Newsweek magazine, and continue to do so throughout the campaign. Has our media lost it's mind? Or is this just more proof of the collusion between our fourth estate and the government?

Since when did being one of the biggest liars in the history of the country become a path that leads to the once sacred halls of truth telling? Are we supposed to believe that the Washington Post has any credibility after this unholy alliance? Karl Rove is a criminal, and despite objections by the far right fringe that's left in this country, we all know it.

The argument will now be, "Why wasn't he arrested if he's a criminal?" Very simple. because of actions taken by Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, and Rove himself to block investigations into any wrongdoing, much like the Senate is trying to cover up the fact that the telecom companies broke the law by spying on American citizens even before 9/11?

This obscene finger in the air to the American people must not be allowed to stand. In fact Newsweek editor Meacham says that he's doing his job if hiring Rove creates outrage. That's his intent here. To create outrage.

Forget the lies told by Rove, or that he's suspected of engineering election fraud on a national basis. Forget that Rove's disdain for the media was so clearly evident during his rule behind the scenes time at the White House. Forget the secrecy and refusal to testify before Congress, or acknowledge subpoenas. Let's remember that this man is a traitor no matter which way you want to slice it. This man was instrumental in outing a covert CIA agent, and whoever says otherwise is either a fool or a liar. But instead of being tried and jailed for all that he has done to harm the security of our country, for the damage he helped cause to our world wide reputation, this bottom feeding toad is rewarded by the very same industry that he jokingly referred to as not worth the time of day.

Newsweek and The Washington Post need to hear your opinions on this one, so please feel free to bombard them at Mailing Address:Newsweek251 W. 57th St.New York, NY 10019 or light up their switchboard at (212) 445-4000.

If the fourth estate wants to be the cheerleaders for criminals, then they should also know how you feel about it. And if the fourth estate continues this trend of hiring people directly from an administration that is the worst in U.S. history, then maybe we need a fifth estate to keep a check on them. Batmanchester

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Case For War

Having concluded that the President is right about the need for the United States to pre-emtively strike at our enemies before they can do us harm, it is also my conclusion that we must stop this Arab country from committing any more acts of terrorism, or from financing any more of the same. Having said that, the case for another bombing campaign can be made not against Iran, but against Bush family friends and business partners, Saudi Arabia.

I know. I can hear you already. But if one looks at what the media has been trying to tell us, and what even elements within our own government have been saying for years now, there can be no other conclusion than that the Saudis represent a clear and present danger to the well being of our country. Let's put it into perspective by fact checking the fact checkers.

Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, with the 9/11 Commission identifying the twentieth, who didn't make it to the show as a Saudi.

According to the government, Khalid Sheik Mohammed gave U.S. Intelligence information about Al-Quaeda training camps in Afghanistan that put the number of foreign fighters from Saudi Arabia at eighty per cent.

A poll taken in the weeks following the attacks by Saudi Intelligence, and reported by the N.Y. Times, placed the number of Saudi men between the ages of 20 and 40 as approving of Bin Laden and his attack at 95 per cent.

Before and after 9/11, almost every terrorist incident around the globe can be traced back to Saudi roots.

For instance, the Saudi National Guard bombing in 1995 that killed 5 Americans. 4 Saudis arrested and executed.

The Khobar Towers bombing of 1996. 13 of the 14 men were Saudis, including the 5 who drove the suicide truck.

The Nairobi Embassy bombing of 1998. 2 Saudis drove that one.

The U.S.S. Cole bombing in 2000. The Prime Minister of Yemen and Al-Quaeda have both fingered the bombers as Saudis.

The Riyadh bombing in the residential compound in 2003. 9 Saudi nationals.

The Mosul army tent bombing in 2004, which killed 18 more Americans. A Saudi national.

As a matter of fact and public record, Saudi Arabia is also the largest financier of terrorism in the world, with their fingerprints all over the money behind the Bali nightclub bombing, the Madrid train Bombings, the Beslan middle school murders, the London subway bombings, and the Mumbai train bombings.

The list of Saudi connections to terrorist cells and Al-Quaeda is quite extensive, and has been documented by the N.Y.Times, the Pentagon, the U.S. Army, other major media outlets and in fact the July 26th, 2007 edition of the Times tells us of the frustration of U.S. officials who were realizing that the vast majority of foreign insurgents were not coming from Iran, but were coming from Saudi Arabia, and that they had not done enough to stop the flow, and may in fact be secretly encouraging it. Top that off with the forged documents given to U.S. Intelligence by the Saudis indicating that Maliki was actually in cahoots with Iran, and what we have here is much more than a failure to communicate, we have a case for war. Not with Iran, but with Saudi Arabia, our 'allies and our friends.'

But taking into account the extensive ties that the Bush and Cheney families have with the Saudis, not to mention high level former officials such as James Baker the 3rd, the Carlyle Group, defense contractors, etc. etc. etc., there will be no change in U.S. policy towards the Saudis until we get an administration that doesn't have it's hand deep inside the cookie jar of profiteering on the deaths of Americans.

Some reference materials that bolster this argument can be found in the July 26th, 2007 edition of the N.Y. Times, the July 16th, 2007 edition of CBS news online, the 8/31/2003 edition of the Boston Globe, Frontline's interview with Saad al-Fagih, page 235 of the 9/11 Commission Report, The Iraq Study Group Report, the Oct. 18th edition of the Christian Science Monitor, the June 29th edition of the State Department's USINFO report, the May 15th, 2005 edition of The Washington Post, the Jan. 3rd, 2005 edition of MSNBC, the March 19th, 2003 press release from the office of Sen. Schumer, the Aug 20th, 2004 edition of the Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project, the 3/7/01 press release by the State Department on the U.S. Embassy bombing, the June 20th, 2005 edition of MSNBC, the Nov. 23rd, 2000 edition of the N.Y. Times, and so many other sources that I can't possibly list them all here.

And so, as we rattle our sabers at the Iranians, who are no innocent bystanders to be sure, we may also want to just go ahead and pre-empt the Saudis from attacking us again, using the Bush Doctrine as justification. It would save American lives, liberate the people of Saudi Arabia from one of the most repressive and brutal regimes to grace the world stage, and show the world that we mean business about stopping the spread of terrorism. But first, Bush and his criminal buddies would have to stop doing business with a regime intent on the destruction of the United States. They shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time, but yet we continue to consider them an 'ally'. Maybe the media could point this out to our glorious leader before he gets us into yet another conflagration? All Americans would be most appreciative. Batmanchester

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Silencing Of Mike Gravel

Once again there will be a Democratic debate in which the corporate owned mainstream media has decided who we will be allowed to hear from, and whom they deem as not profitable enough to their bottom line. So the silencing of a candidate for the office of President of the United States continues during CNN's much ballyhooed debates Thursday evening. Even during past debates, Gravel has been practically ignored by the media, mainly concerned with furthering their corporate masters interests, proven during recent debates by their attempts at marginalizing candidates that are starting to receive more attention than corporate Amerika feels comfortable with.

Since the media won't give you the facts about Mike Gravel, maybe it's time you were able to hear what he stands for, and what he offers should his long shot candidacy ever succeed. Bear in mind that this has become a race for the White House based solely on who can buy it the most successfully, and the admen have decided that Mike Gravel won't be spending enough on television or print spots to deem him worthy of consideration.

Taking the pulse of Mike Gravel is fairly easy for anyone inclined to do so, without the standard label of 'nutjob' bandied about by those opposed to what he brings to the table, by simply following what he has to say online. Fiery and fed up with the status quo, Gravel's message is as compelling to ordinary Americans as any of the so called top tier candidates.

One of his most important stances, and of concern to almost every one of us who use the Internet to express ideas, communicate with others around the world, buy and sell, or further the exchange of free flowing information, is his opposition to anything that seeks to stifle or control the Internet. We are already seeing the attempts by the corporations to take over the Internet, with the buyouts and outright suppression of sites that facilitate the free flow of information, and Gravel wants to put a stop to it. Strike one against Gravel by the corporate owned media.

Strike two against Gravel comes as he advocates for true Universal Health Care. He wants every single American to be covered by a system of vouchers paid for by a sales tax. The coverage would be free for ALL Americans, eliminating the current system whereby insurance companies dictate the treatment you receive, and the medications that you are allowed to have, end running doctor's decisions. Well, the insurance industry, which donates millions of dollars, and employs armies of lobbyists, just can't have that now can they?

But strike three against this provocative thinker, who was instrumental in ending the draft in case you didn't know that, is his idea that we the people should have a government that represents us. And that we the people should have a say in what laws are passed. Why, the audacity of the man! The criminals who now decide things in secret, without any input from the people, absolutely shudder at the thought that the people may actually come to terms with the fact that we no longer have a government that represents what we want. Gravel says what a lot of us have been saying lately. That we need a National Initiative, whereby citizens can easily have ballot initiatives. That would take the power from the elites, and give it back to the people, but that can not be allowed if globalization and the further erosion of our civil rights is to march forth.

The funny thing is, Mike Gravel is actually for what most Americans are concerned about. Health Care for everyone, not just those who are in a position to pay for better care. Education strengthening, and not the dumbing down of the populace. Ending the war. Leaving alone a woman's right to choose. Stopping the raiding of the Social Security Trust Fund to pay off the debts incurred by free spending politicians. Increasing spending on Veteran's Affairs, making sure that vets are not left homeless on the streets of our nation. Getting rid of NAFTA and the WTO. And finally, the biggest no no of all. Ending our dependence on oil completely.

I don't know about you, but these issues are what everyone talks about all over the net already.

Furthering people's misconceptions about Mike Gravel are the constant playing on television of portions of Gravel's now infamous YouTube video, where he throws a rock in a lake. But what they don't do is show you the entire video, nor play the soundtrack that accompanies it. Watch the entire two and a half minute video, and see if you can figure out what the message is he's trying to convey. It's so obvious, and so, so, well, so un status quo, that it had to be crazy in the eyes of our responsible fourth estate.

Finally, in a nation that espouses the right of all to be heard, there should not even be a hint of censorship in a debate for the highest office in the land. But that's what this is, pure and simple. It is the explanation that if you are not rich, are not one of the 'elite', and can not afford to buy the office, then don't even bother running, or we'll ignore you. Don't rock the boat, make waves, (like in the afore mentioned video), or you'll be silenced. So while MSM is showing their made for television debates, with questions designed to make some candidates look good and others hit with the most inane, idiotic questions ever asked of a candidate running for President, Mike Gravel will have his own commentary going on his own site, live and at the same time. Maybe we should have both going at the same time, and show MSM we are fed up with the rigged game they are trying to play, by giving Gravel's site a million or more hits Thursday night.

Oh, and I don't think Gravel has seen any UFO's lately, but Carter has, Reagan warned against an invasion that could unite the world, and former Arizona Governor Syminton did. Let's rock the boat Thursday with Mike Gravel, and maybe, just maybe, we can rock the vote along with it. Batmanchester

Monday, November 12, 2007

Any Soldier

For everyone who celebrated Veteran's Day yesterday, I wanted to keep one place in a spotlight as it were. It's a web site called Any Soldier, and I write about them once a year now, in much the way that the media usually does stories on the homeless around this time of year. That's probably not the way it should be, we should constantly keep both our military people and our homeless in the forefront of our minds at all times.

That being said, the Any Soldier program is designed brilliantly. Started by concerned parents, who wanted to do something to help their son make it through the holiday season with love from home, it grew swiftly within the online community, and now has a domain for each branch of the military, including the Coast Guard. Their approach is simple. They put together care packages that range from the very basic ie; soap, shampoo, and other personal hygiene products, to more elaborate packages that can have everything from cookies and candy to a crushable pillow, and other life essentials that no one misses until the skin tearing desert sands blast across the faces of our men and women overseas.

But they don't just send these packages to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The online communities showed such an outpouring of support over the last couple of years, that they have expanded into getting these care packages to almost every corner of the globe, in order to give as many of our people the knowledge that they are not forgotten, and to have that small, but ever so meaningful piece of home at a time of year when we all tend to forget about the rest of the world.

We all like to talk about supporting the troops. Now you know of at least one place, that you can literally put your money where your mouth is. Go to AnySoldier dot com, and send a package to any soldier. You don't have to send a card along, should you choose to remain anonymous. And you don't have to have a ton of money in order to make someone's day. In fact, at their sister site, treatanysoldier dot com, you can have the people who volunteer at Any Soldier send something as small as a $12.00 pillow. That's the cost of two lattes, and easily affordable. But what if you're truly broke and can't afford to send anything in the form of a gift or phone card, or care package? Then simply scroll through the lists at Any Soldier, and you'll find tons of service members that would enjoy nothing more than to receive a piece of mail every once in a while.

We can all agree to disagree on the war, on it's cause, or the reasons we are there. Most of us can wish this war over, and our military to come home. But when it comes to supporting our military, the guardians of both you and I, the ones who make it possible for you to sleep safely in your own bed at night, while they hold the wolves at bay, there should be no room for debate. Contact Any Soldier at their web site, and DO something that can brighten the atmosphere just a little for a battle scarred veteran who sacrifices so much for us, and asks for so little in return. Batmanchester

Saturday, November 10, 2007

John McCain: Manchurian Candidate?

Having read John McCain's book on his tribulations as a P.O.W. in Vietnam when I was a teenager, the narrative is as compelling today as it was back then. There's no doubt in my mind that Sen. McCain suffered unspeakable acts of torture at the hands of sadistic animals, who should have been brought before a war crime tribunal after that conflict ended. That being said, and with no one questioning McCain's suffering, nor his service in the era of that past folly war, we must also examine some troubling issues that are still unresolved, before even considering McCain as a viable alternative to anyone for the position of President of the United States.
The issue of Vietnam, and McCain's torture during his five and one half years of captivity, has never been resolved in the minds of many other Vietnam veterans, with some of them actually suggesting that there is far more to this story than what comes out of the Senator himself. Not given any press whatsoever during this run for the Presidency, it is only fair that this issue be revisited, in order to make a more informed judgement.
The can be no 'untouchables' in the political arena, and therefore we must examine closely some very bizarre past behaviour that has all but been forgotten by most, save for those who are truly afraid of a McCain Presidency. Looking back in time to the days of the 1991 Senate Select Committee Hearings, one has to wonder why Sen. McCain so opposed the entering into the record of any mention of Soviet involvement in the interrogations of U.S. prisoners of war in Vietnam. He absolutely stunned the other Committee members with his outburst, declaring that the Soviets had no part whatsoever in any P.O.W. interrogations. This was during the testimony of Tracy Usry, the former chief investigator of the Minority Staff of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who stated in no uncertain terms that not only were the Soviets involved, but so were the Chinese and the Cubans.
But to go further, on this same day, at this same hearing, Col. Bui Tin, a former Senior Colonel in the North Vietnamese Army, that not only did the Soviets interrogate American P.O.W.'s but that they treated them very badly. Further into his testimony, he stated that, as a high ranking official in the Vietnamese Communist Party, he was privy to the files of all high profile detainees,and offered to make those files available to the Committee. It was at this point that a shocked Hearing room got to witness the extraordinary. Sen. John McCain fairly leapt off of the bench and warmly embraced his former captor, which pretty much ended all questions about P.O.W. files in the hands of the Russians or the Chinese. Such a warm, brotherly embrace for the one responsible for his own torture would not be the fate for Usry, who, along with all the others active in the field of P.O.W. research were summarily fired at the urging of none other than Sen. John McCain and other Republican Senators. And so the question must be begged. Did McCain actually collaborate? Referencing his own book can clear that up.
After being shot down, stabbed through the foot, and shoulder butted with a rifle, McCain was in "bad shape". After being periodically slapped around for "three or four days" by his captors who wanted military information from him, which McCain claims he refused to give, providing only his name, rank and serial number, he realized he was in critical shape and called for an officer. He told the officer, "O.K., I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital."
Regardless of the reasons, the offer to give "military information" in exchange for better treatment was a violation of the military Code of Conduct and Collaboration No. l.The doctor, according to McCain, said about taking him to the hospital, "It's too late."At that point, McCain knew he was in big trouble. According to information obtained by the U.S. VETERAN, the flier in desperation invoked the name of his famous father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., the soon-to-be commander of all U.S. Forces in the Pacific.And that was a violation of the Code of Conduct and Collaboration No. 2.
How much further did McCain collaborate? We may never know.
Let's also bring up the Keating Five. Forgot that one did you? The Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal, of which McCain himself declared that would be the epithet on his tombstone. Try a Google search of that one, it's in a class all by itself.Here's a preview of what you'll find: ECONOMIST, Mar. 9, 1991--"Mr. McCain, despite his claims of innocence, was the only one of the five who benefited personally--family holidays in the Bahamas on Mr. Keating's tab."
NEW REPUBLIC, Dec. 31, 1990--"The only Republican of the bunch [the five Senators], John McCain of Arizona wins credit for finally drawing the line. After the second of the two April meetings [with Federal regulators] he told Mr. [Sen. Dennis] DeConcini [D-Ariz.] and Mr. Keating that he wouldn't lean on the regulators any more. Mr. Keating called him a wimp. But before the rupture, Mr. McCain and his family were regular guests of Mr. Keating's on trips to the Bahamas. Mr. McCain reimbursed the owner of Lincoln Savings and Loan for only a small fraction of the cost of these holidays. Yet, he never reported the vacations on Senate disclosure forms, or his income taxes. He said he thought his wife had paid Mr. Keating back. This is hard to believe."
NEW REPUBLIC, Sept. 9, 1991--Calling McCain part of the "Senatorial Lincoln Brigade," the NEW REPUBLIC reported that Keating, while bankrupting his Savings and Loan, had channeled $1.4 million to the campaigns or causes of the five Senators, who in turn pressured the Savings and Loan regulators to "back off our friend."Ultimately, the fall of Lincoln Savings and Loan will cost the U.S. taxpayers $2 billion. It lost $1 million dollars a day from the time Keating bought it in 1984 until its collapse in 1989, and yet he continued to pay off McCain as "one of his assets," REGARDIE'S magazine reported in its April-May 1992 issue.
And that's the tip of the iceberg. I could go on for pages about John McCain, his temper,(remember his telling another Senator to go F himself during a hearing on Internet obscenity?) his fraud, and the phony 'hero' label given to him by the Republican Party. No one wants to even contemplate the thought that a good American son could possibly have some major skeletons in his closet, but we had better get full disclosure from this candidate, because God help us all if the Russians or the Chinese have a nice little file on our 'crown prince' (the words of the Viet Cong) who would be king. Insist09

Friday, November 9, 2007

Discarded Toy Soldiers

The recent revelations in newspapers across the country about the treatment of Veterans in this, the land of the free, and the home of the brave, are also exposing the neo-fascists among us for their true nature. Having spent the last couple of days watching the postings to message boards across the range of political thought, the pattern is quite clear, and patently disgusting. Newspaper message boards, news site message boards, or just plain chat boards, all have these false Americans blaming the situation on the veterans themselves.
Most of this drivel sounds like a mantra, "Let these bums get a job, like everyone else." This callous, cold mentality, driven by those with the darkest of hearts, explains a lot about who we are becoming as a people. Not speaking of the ordinary citizen who can not afford to support themselves due to outsourcing, skyrocketing home prices, or the cost of fuel and even food, we're talking about men and women who have fought to keep this country safe, whether you believe in the wars overseas or not.
They answered the call, but came home to be tossed in the garbage heap, much in the same way that the poor of our nation are kicked to the curb, like used old toy soldiers. Who in their right mind would even dare to suggest that these fellow Americans deserve the treatment they're receiving? Well, the dying breed of neo-cons for starters. You know, the ones who have supported the Bush Administration's slashing of funding to help returning vets, even as he speaks platitudes to these same men and women every chance he gets. Slashed the service members' housing allowances. Slashed at the service members' medical benefits. Decimated programs designed to help vets reintegrate into civilian life, such as job training and mental heath services.
So we now have a crisis of wounded and scarred warriors roaming the countryside, with no one to turn to, and these insensitive sociopaths condemning them wherever they turn up. But yet, these same sociopaths will be the first ones screaming from the balconies to attack Iran, or any other country that dares to disagree with us. Just don't let them homeless veterans near me when they're done fighting my war for me. What chutzpah. What drivel. And how far removed from reality must they be to disrespect those who put their lives on the line so that we could all go to bed at night?
What job would you have them get? The ones that our dear leaders have given away to the rest of the world, or to illegal immigrants here at home? Maybe they should work at YOUR job, and you can trade places with them for a little while? Don't like that idea? Well, then keep your trap shut, and stop trying to dishonor those who keep you safe. Patriotism isn't only about waving the flag when it's convenient to you. When it's time to put on a dog and pony show intended to stir up feelings of nationalistic fervor. It's a much higher form of Patriotism to take care of your own, and in that department, we are failing miserably as a people.
Maybe it's time for these false Americans to put their efforts into something a little more useful than to condemn anyone who dares to point out the shortcomings that we are all guilty of, and DO something constructive. The first place would be to demand better treatment of our veterans. Batmanchester

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Comparing Kucinich And Ron Paul

Dismissed as a radical by the mainstream media, Dennis Kucinich is slowly pulling in the numbers that his Republican rival Ron Paul has shown in recent weeks. Interestingly, no one in the media seems to be paying any attention. As recent online DFA polls show, Kucinich won the Democratic online straw poll with wide margins in almost every state except for Washington.

Yesterday, the impeachment vote introduced by Rep. Kucinich was actually killed by spineless Democrats who speak platitudes, but then have to get on with more 'serious' issues, such as letting Bush do anything he wants. They will rubber stamp his newest 'torture' nominee, Mukasey for fear of being branded as confrontational. Well, they proved that point yesterday didn't they? The Democrats were the ones who voted to shelve the impeachment of Cheney, while the Republicans actually did a turn around and changed their votes to allow the debate to go forward. It was a last second sucker punch to the Democratic stomach, done to show them up for the spineless losers they truly are. And it worked beautifully.

Kucinich has all of the same stances as Ron Paul when it comes to the Iraq war, the Federal Reserve, pulling out of NAFTA and the WTO, saving capitalism, free markets, and tearing up The Patriot Act. Unlike Ron Paul and his supporters though, Kucinich doesn't believe that one way to accomplish the restoration of the Constitution is by immediately ending Social Security, TANF, food stamps, housing vouchers, Medicare, Medicaid, and all other federal programs designed to prevent a return to the days of Hoovervilles.

On several web sites, Paul supporters advocate openly for the immediate destruction of all of these programs, an issue that even Paul himself has tried to keep out of the spotlight for fear of the repurcussions. When asked why they would want such extreme measures taken, their answer is always a little Hitleresque in nature. "let the poor fend for themselves, and they'll have to work like the rest of us," writes one supporter. That doesn't speak to the millions upon millions of Americans who work 40 or more hours per week, but must still depend upon some of these programs in order to survive.

We must also take a good hard look at this sudden upsurge in support for Ron Paul. Where is it coming from? Just one example should cause everyone who is thinking about jumping on this bandwagon to cringe in horror. The Texas Huffines Family. Plausible deniability can't even enter into this one, as Paul has held fund raisers at the Huffines palatial estate. But in order to understand this one issue, we have to look at who the Huffines family is. They like to present themselves publicly as 'lil ole Texas car dealers', when nothing could be further from the truth. To date, they have contributed in a skirt the election laws type of way, almost 1 million dollars to the Paul campaign. The Huffines family is extremely wealthy, and extremely powerful in Texas, owning not just a car dealership, but dealerships all over Texas, as well as real estate holdings all over the state. They have been politically connected for decades. But the scariest part is that they have always put their muscle behind the most extreme of candidates, such as Jon Cornyn, and George Bush. How did the Huffines donate all of this money and get away with it? Simple. They had every single member of the family, from the patriarch, to the unemployed children, from their employees, to their friends and neighbors, all donate the maximum allowable $2,300 each. The wives even donated, although they list themselves as unemployed.

But even were we to not look into this, there would still be the fact that Paul has been getting backing from some very strange places. Places and money he should be condemning, but doesn't. Such as the 9/11 Truth Movement, the hijacked by the extreme right movement that makes up stuff as it goes along. White Supremacist groups, Big Oil companies, and church groups that agree with Paul on his integrating church and state philosophy. See the June 5th, 2007 online edition of The Daily Kos and you'll see exactly who Ron Paul is and what he stands for. Also the Oct. 31st issue of Wired under 'Politics'.

I have been asking myself for the last few weeks why those who support Ron Paul refuse to even look at Dennis Kucinich. And the reasons became obvious the more I researched. Kucinich is Ron Paul with a heart. With compassion. With a sense of responsibility. He espouses virtually all of the same ideas as Ron Paul, but he also defends the down trodden and those who are disabled. In other words, he's human. Not forgetting also that he has been the only one, besides Feingold who has had the courage to stand up to this administration. Ron Paul hasn't. Ron Paul didn't introduce impeachment resolutions.

So here is the analysis. Ron Paul is another in a long line of far right wing fanatics, who will look the other way when it suits him, who will accept money and support from dubious sources, and will take this country back to the stone age. No stem cell research. No abortion. No gay rights. Let the Oil companies do as they please. Wants to repeal the Voters Rights Act of 1965. Voted FOR the Bankruptcy Bill, No to Universal Health Care, Wants to dismantle the Dept. of Education and the FDA, hates unions, and the list goes on and on. Yes. He's against the war. So? So is David Duke, Pat Buchanan, and many others. And so is Dennis Kucinich.

The difference is, Ron Paul would cause the suffering of millions of Americans as he leads us to a new Amerika. Dennis Kucinich has all of the exact same stances as Ron Paul, except he won't try the deceitful, tired old "Blame it all on the poor" game beloved by the far right. Maybe everyone on the Ron Paul bandwagon needs to actually research who these two are, what they stand for, and who has voted for what. Also, research who is actually backing each candidate, who is donating money, how it's being donated, and look for the same names to pop up again and again.

Research the issues, and see who's really wanting to lead, and who is seeking to further the Republican's most extreme agendas.

No. Ron Paul and his botnet supporters are not the ones. Dennis Kucinich is. Batmanchester

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

John Edwards Too Inconsistent

Getting to this point in researching the backgrounds of all of the candidates, and what they say and do now, this candidate was one of the ones that I secretly hoped I would find to withstand the test. Sadly, and to my chagrin, John Edwards failed, and failed big.

While it may be that Edwards would probably do the most out of all the candidates to help the poor, one can not overlook Edwards' voting record in the Senate, and the impact that those votes had on us as a nation.

For instance, he voted to authorize the Patriot Act, use of force against Iraq, didn't vote at all to condemn the torture at Abu Gharib, and those three votes only touch upon the record.

Edwards presents himself as the champion of the American worker. But this is inconsistent with his voting twice in one day back in Nov. 1999 against raising the minimum wage, and almost to the day one year later, voting to normalize trade relations with China. Also not voting in workers' interest as late as 2003, he voted no on S. 3694, a bill designed to empower people to be able to sue if an unusual delay in service resulted in death or serious harm to a patient, called for insurers to have external reviews in denial of services claims, provide access to services from specialists that are outside of a person's network, and would bar insurers from denying service due to a person's genetic predisposition to certain diseases.

Voting in favor of the Bankruptcy Reform Act in 2000, one has to wonder if Edwards even read this weird hodgepodge law before he voted on it. The bill, Big Business' wet dream come true, makes it extremely hard to file bankruptcy, forces those that are broke to pay for credit classes, and somehow ties all of this into the production of meth. Hey, I didn't write the thing, Rep. George Gekas did. It's another one of those bills that makes one wonder who actually read it before voting for it.

Voted in favor of Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, the unfunded mandate slapped in the face of every state and proven to be an unmitigated failure.

These and other votes that John Edwards took suggest that he is willing to go along with the stronger voices in the pack in order to not make waves. This point is suggested even more strongly when one considers that Edwards missed many votes that are still impacting us today. That strikes me as very lawyerly. Vote against the interests of a certain segment of society, but then come out as their champion.

I didn't even bother with the fact that his campaign tried to stop the University Of North Carolina's newspaper, The Tar Heel, from reporting on the fact that Edwards has his campaign headquarters in Chapel Hill, a glamorous, ritzy area that caters to only the rich. They demanded that the University pull the story, remove a video report that aired on it's daily news show, and take the video off of YouTube, or else face the 'punishment' of not having any more access to Edwards or his campaign staff. This disturbs me more than any vote, his making money through his investment in a company that denied Katrina claims, even as he was claiming to be doing all he could to help the victims, because it is eerily similar to the censorship that permeates the current administration.

The other argument that people are making in favor of Edwards is that he'll do something about the environment. But, wouldn't that mean he'd have to give up his Cadillac SRX, SUV, and pickup truck?

The last item that I'll include here, and there are many that I haven't, is actually in the form of a question. This champion of the little guy, this worker of wonders for the poor has to answer this one question if he is to be believed. Why didn't he do anything at all to help the victims of AIDS in his home state of North Carolina? N.C. has one of the worst records in the country in following Part 2 of the Ryan White Act, which gives funding to under insured and uninsured AIDS victims, so they can receive life saving medicine. A virtual death sentence without this medicine, Edwards, despite repeated attempts by hospice providers, AIDS advocates, and health care workers, did absolutely nothing to help his own state get more funding for the victims of this disease, and in fact, refused to even answer queries about his silence. Was this a little bit of religious pontificating from Edwards? You know, God's wrath and all that? Kind of reminds one of a Republicrat. Play to the base, while also playing to the fanatical right.

This one is a no brainer to me, and so I'll break my analysis down as this: John Edwards is a lawyer first, a politician second, and blows the same way as the prevailing political winds. He can and has been bullied into voting with the right wingers, to the detriment of his constituents. He will say one thing, make promises, do feel good photo ops, but when it comes time to deliver, he'll do whatever makes him LOOK the best, hoping, like most lawyers do, that no one actually fact checks him. Gonna sue Me now John?

Like I said, I didn't really want to write this one. I wanted to believe in the place called Hope again. But hope is fleeting when we depend on the phonies and the fakes in the political arena, and Edwards is one of them. Batmanchester