Thursday, May 17, 2007

Again We Ask, Why Does Bush Hate the Troops

This from ThinkProgress: The Bush administration today threatened to a veto a House defense spending bill over a 3.5% pay raise for U.S. soldiers and a $40/month increase in benefits for military widows, among other provisions. The legislation passed the House today 397-27.

"Troops don’t need bigger pay raises."

Troops do need involuntary extensions of deployments. Troops do need to stay in Iraq for an indefinite period of time in the middle of a civil war with no clear defintion for success. Troops do need to be sent to war without the necessary equipment and body armor. Troops do need to come home to a decrepit Walter Reed.

But what our troops most certainly do NOT need is bigger pay raises.

Now This Is What I'm Talking About! Senate To Hold No-Confidence Vote on Gonzales

As much as the U.S. Attorney firings scandal and W's refusal to remove Attorney General Alberto Gonzales from office has been bad publicity for Bush and the GOP, the fact that Gonzales remains is an affront to every American who thinks that we live in a constitutional democracy and not The Kingdom of Bush.

AG the A.G has refused to give answers to Congress when he's appeared before various committees and has ignored Congressional subpoenas. But finally, it seems we've got some real movement in the effort to actually get rid of him. At a press conference this afternoon, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer (NY) and Dianne Feinstein (CA) called on the Senate to hold a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Their announcement follows more evidence of wrongdoing by Gonzales and Bush, new criticism from Republicans, and the prediction of GOP Senator Arlen Specter that the investigation into the firings of federal prosecutors would end with the attorney general's resignation.

Thursday Links

  • Once again, the Democratic Congress is actually supporting the troops. The House passed an amendment yesterday that aims to prevent soldiers deployed to war from permanently losing custody of their children because of the absence.

  • Nearly one in four Americans receive no paid vacation or holiday time. Even worse, nearly half of all full-time private sector workers in the U.S. get no paid sick days. The U.S. is also the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have introduced the Healthy Families Act (HFA), which would guarantee that workers receive at least seven paid sick days each year. Tell Congress to support this legislation here.

  • More stonewalling from Republicans. Former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman has refused a request by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (R-NY) that she testify about the "government's failure to respond adequately to the environmental crisis in Lower Manhattan" after 9/11.

  • A little-noticed resolution to a case involving same-sex couples from New York will allow dozens of them to be considered legally married in Massachusetts, and apparently in their home state as well.

  • Households are spending about $1,000 more per year for gasoline than they were just five years ago, an 85% increase according to consumer groups’ analysis in testimony prepared for the House Judiciary Committee.

Alternative Energy Daily News - May 17, 2007

  • Sixteen cities around the world will begin cutting carbon emissions by renovating city-owned buildings with green technology under a program spearheaded by former
    President Clinton's foundation.

  • Live Green, Live Smart is remodeling a 1940s house in Minnetonka, MN, which the designers hope will be the most eco-friendly residence in the world.

  • The Pete Store, Inc. announces the delivery of the industry’s first Class 8 hybrid truck to Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The War That May Have Saved America

President Bush’s approval rating recently hit 28%, the lowest of his presidency and equal to the low point of Jimmy Carter’s. The Republicans lost the Congress in 2006. The two GOP presidential debates were contests between 10 middle-aged white men to see who could invoke Ronald Regan’s name the most and establish their right-wing bonefides the best. Both debates were devoid of any new ideas. Now a majority of American identify themselves as Democrats rather that Republicans. The party that Karl Rove had envisioned as the majority party for a generation is in peril of losing the White House in 2008 and becoming an even greater minority in Congress. What caused this turnaround from just three years ago, when Bush was re-elected and the GOP ruled Congress and, it seemed, the entire country?

Of course, one not need be a rocket scientist to know the answer. It’s the war, stupid, and all aspects of the war: the decision to go to war based on lies; the lack of post-war planning and the resulting debacle; the war profiteering by the administration friends; and the hopeless quagmire that this country is now in.

Bush came into office as a result of the disputed 2000 election with an air of illegitimacy and with no mandate. Despite his claims of being a compassionate conservative (an oxymoron), the real agenda of his administration was to dismantle the social programs of the New Deal. He was the face man, as it were, for the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform et al. These people longed for the golden age of corporate and business rule, no government (except, of course, for the Defense Department), and no taxes, the way the country was before FDR injected a bit of humanity into it. All the talk about social issues was pure bullshit. These people could have given a rats ass about morality or so-called family values. They just used Gays, Guns, and God to get the pure shcmucks on the low end of economic totem pole, those who the New Deal was enacted to help in the first place, to vote against their own economic interests.

9/11 and the fear of terrorism gave Bush, Cheney and Rove the opportunity to advance their agenda. Now, in addition to the Three G's, they could use fear to get votes. And they were well on their way to talking this country back to the 19th Century when their hubris got the best of them. They pushed it too far and invaded Iraq. The rest, as they say, is history.

This war has been their undoing. They lost Congress because of it. Hopefully, they will lose the presidency in 2008 because of it. And, hopefully, their march back to those great days of the Gilded Age, when the country was ruled by a few elite families and corporations for whom the rest of us worked, has been halted. Hence the title of this post. The Iraq war may very well be the war that saved America. Not, however, from Saddam, but from itself. And, as hard as it is to say this, maybe the Americans killed fighting this war have therefore not died in vain.

- Jeff Bloomfield

Wednesday Links

  • Not surprisingly, Americans get the poorest health care and yet pay the most compared to five other rich countries, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund. Yet another reason this country's healthcare system needs to be overhauled, and the fact that nearly every Democratic presidential candidate supports universal healthcare is a good start.

  • The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and 95% of those incarcerated will return to society. However, that reentry is incredibly difficult. Democratic Congressman Danny Davis (IL) has introduced the Second Chance Act of 2007 in the House, which would provide demonstration and mentoring grants to states and nonprofits, create a National Offender Reentry Resource Center, establish a federal reentry Task Force, and enhance many currents reentry programs.

  • In the first major investigation of Medicare marketing, the Oklahoma insurance commissioner has documented widespread misconduct by agents working for Humana and has ordered the company to take corrective action to protect consumers against high-pressure sales tactics.

  • Potential for at least moderate progress in the rollback of the War on Drugs. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has advised Congress to repeal a law that puts first-time offenders behind bars for at least five years for possessing tiny amounts of crack cocaine.

  • And finally, we mourn the loss of Yolanda King, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s eldest child. She was 51.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Alternative Energy News - May 15, 2007

  • Reported U.S. sales of light-duty hybrid vehicles rose 26% in April 2007 from the year before, reaching 27,351 units.

  • Contrary to those Republicans who can no longer dent global warming but instead cry that fighting global warming is too expensive, a new study shows that curbing global warming won't bankrupt economy.

  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that it has launched a program to test the use of solar power at some of its operations.

  • Companies see profits in green initiatives: from manufacturers to banks, environmental projects surge.

  • In a sign of congressional concern over near record-high gasoline prices and global warming, a Senate committee approved legislation calling for the most significant increase in vehicle fuel efficiency in decades.

  • Gas prices may be nudging people in Ventura County, California out of big cars and wedging them into smaller ones, new marketing and sales data show.

  • Yahoo! aims to wield its power as the biggest U.S. Internet media company to encourage millions of consumers to take basic steps to help the environment as part of its corporate push to confront global warming.

  • IBM has unveiled its "Project Big Green," a $1-billion-a-year effort to make data centers worldwide more energy-efficient, cost-effective and greener overall.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Back From Vacation: Tuesday Links

The Angry Progressives are back from vacation today with a big set of links. And we're excited that these particular news items focus on issues that have been important to us from the start, from (among others) healthcare and the phramaceutical industry's dominance over U.S. policy; stem-cell research and the potential for the creation of massive amounts of new jobs and economic development; corruption in the Bush Adminstration; and progress being made on the living wage and sustainable communities fronts.

  • Senators who raised millions of dollars in campaign donations from pharmaceutical interests secured industry-friendly changes to a landmark drug-safety bill. Republican Senators have also effectively killed a measure that would have let Americans buy prescription medicines from foreign suppliers, which sponsors said could have saved consumers billions of dollars. By a 49-40 vote, senators approved a provision requiring the government to certify that imports are safe -- a step the Bush administration is unlikely to take. The amendment, offered by Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), was seen as a major victory for the pharmaceutical industry.

  • The Kansas Board of Education repealed sex education policies enacted last year, the latest move by the moderate majority to undo efforts by conservatives when they dominated the board.

  • Four officials who helped oversee a federal reading program for young students have pocketed significant sums of money from textbook publishers that profited from the $1 billion-a-year initiative, a Democratic congressional report disclosed yesterday.

  • The Pentagon has placed unprecedented restrictions on who can testify before Congress, reserving the right to bar lower-ranking officers, enlisted soldiers, and career bureaucrats from appearing before oversight committees or having their remarks transcribed.

  • A legislative committee endorsed a bill that would require retailers to pay for an economic impact study before they can build big stores in Maine communities.

  • Former President Bill Clinton announced agreements with drug companies to lower the price of so-called "second-line" AIDS drugs for people in the developing world and to make a once-a-day AIDS pill available for less than $1 a day.

  • A slice of this year's surplus oil revenues in Alaska would go to communities around the state under legislation that moved out of the Senate Finance Committee.

  • Native Hawaiian bills, one dealing with self-government and another with housing, moved a step closer yesterday to a debate before the full Senate.

  • And finally, there's comedy, there's high comedy, and then there's Tom Delay giving a political seminar in which ethics are discussed.