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Friday, September 30, 2005

Sharon Olds' Open Letter to Laura Bush

I recieved the following in an email from a friend and decided that it should be posted here.

Thank you, Pat.


For reasons spelled out below, the poet Sharon Olds has declined to attend the National Book Festival in Washington, which, coincidentally or not, takes place September 24, the day of an antiwar mobilization in the capital. Olds, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and professor of creative writing at New York University, was invited along with a number of other writers by Laura Bush to read from their works.

Laura Bush, First Lady
The White House

Dear Mrs. Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House.

In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers.

And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers. Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children. Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students--long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.

When you have witnessed someone nonspeaking and almost nonmoving spell out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new poem,you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing. When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is completely nonspeaking and nonmoving (except for the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation, self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit--and the importance of writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and song.

So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC. I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country--with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism--the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.

But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish andshame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.



Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Federal Indian Records Found Discarded

Corruption and incompetence are quickly becoming the mise en scène of the Bush Era. Today's indictment of Tom DeLay speaks to the "corruption" part of this formula; a report circulated by CNN today underscores the "incompetence" attribute. As is too often the case, it is the interests of Native Americans that are impacted by the incompetence of the federal government.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal officials are investigating how National Archives documents of interest to Indians suing the Interior Department were found discarded in a trash bin and a wastebasket.
The discovery came to light on September 1, when Archives staff noticed federal records in one of the trash bins behind the National Archives Building near the Capitol. They notified the Archives' inspector general, Paul Brachfeld, whose staff recovered the documents.

SEE full story at the following link

In Honor of Today's Indictment of Tom DeLay...

....I wish to re-publish the following from June 1, 2005 by Paul Siegel. Paul very nicely connects the dots among the points of Congressional and Party corruption to the office of Tom DeLay. In light of today's indictment of Mr. Delay, this is worth a fresh reading. Enjoy.

Paul Siegel is a take-no-prisoners member of the Liberal Blogosphere and can be found at

This post may be found in its orginal at

June 01, 2005
Republican Rings of Corruption
(One in an irregular series)
The purpose of the current Republican establishment is not conservatism. It is not interested in small government, nor fiscal discipline, nor business laissez faire, nor “moral values.” The Republican purpose is power. Absolute power. They want to achieve a one-party state: Republican, of course. To do this they have converted the old influence-peddling loops between self-interest groups and the government into solid Republican Rings of Corruption. The corruption ringmaster is none other than Republican leader of the House, Representative Tom DeLay.

The founders of our country were worried about "factions." They wanted to prevent self-interest groups from achieving undue influence with the government. And of course, over the years many self-interest groups - especially, Big Business - did become too powerful. Self-interest groups influenced legislators and executives, hired lobbyists to appropriately dispense political contributions to one party or another, and wrote bills for legislators to vote on.

A loop of corruption was developed between legislators on one hand and lobbyists for industry and other self-interest groups on the other end. Lobbyists gave campaign money and legislators awarded the clients of these lobbyists with legislation that helped them make more money. For clients of lobbyists this was a wonderful deal: They contributed thousands and got millions in return.

Both Republicans and Democrats participated in such lucrative loops. They were feedback loops between self-interest groups and government. No longer. Under the current Republican establishment, the loop consists of self-interest groups and the Republican Party. The Republicans are telling lobbyists that they will not get goodies if they contribute anything to Democrats; all contributions must go to Republicans.

Republicans are converting these feedback loops into more solid Rings of Corruption. Lobbyists and their corporate clients think that they are in the driver's seat, but they are not. The Republicans are running the show - for the purpose of achieving unquestioned control. Eventually, they will tell their clients when and how to contribute in order to get goodies. How long will it be before clients are asked to contribute merely to stay in the Republican Party's good graces? Are Republican clients ready for periodic shakedowns?

Republicans seek control. Never mind all the high-falutin' language. Republicans are building as many Rings of Corruption to gain as much control as possible. The major rings are as follows:

REPUBLICAN/ARMS INDUSTRY RING - Previously we had the military-industrial complex. Now Republicans are using the arms industry in a big way to achieve control. They get contributions from arms merchants and return make sure the arms industry has arms to sell. Do you know of a better way of accomplishing the latter than by declaring war? And you thought we were in Iraq to liberate Iraqis?
REPUBLICAN/MEDICAL INDUSTRY RING - Pharmaceutical and other medical companies contribute to Republicans and Republicans respond with subsidies, tax loopholes and gifts to these corporations. And you thought the Medicare Bill was to help seniors?
REPUBLICAN/ENERGY INDUSTRY RING - Oil, gas and coal companies contribute a lot to the Republicans and these companies visit secretly with Dick Cheney and are awarded with an energy bill that throws money at them. And you thought they were going to reduce the price of gas?
REPUBLICAN/FINANCE INDUSTRY RING - Why do you suppose Bush is traveling all over the country advocating Social Security privatization? Maybe he thinks the finance industry is not thoroughly under the Republicans' thumb. So he sells privatization as a means of boosting the Republican/Finance Industry Ring. And you thought he wants to keep Social Security afloat?
REPUBLICAN/MEDIA INDUSTRY RING - The media industry pays and the Republicans allow mergers and acquisitions. Republicans also complain about the "liberal media." Why? In order to prevent the media from contributing to Democrats. And you thought they were interested in free speech?
REPUBLICAN/RELIGION RING - Up to recently, clients were in industry, and for Democrats, in labor. Republicans are expanding into religion. Republicans get the money and also the activism. What do Republicans offer? It's called "moral values," and its available as a commodity that is just as good as tax cuts, subsidies, special regulations or other commodities business groups like. And you thought they were worried about your soul?The ringmaster for all these Republican Corruption Rings is Tom DeLay. What good is a ringmaster without a super-lobbyist? The super-lobbyist working with Tom DeLay is Jack Abramoff. The two make a perfect pair. They go on trips together, pull new clients into the system and make each Corruption Ring solidly Republican.

Tom DeLay has control over K-Street, where the lobbyists hang out. He reportedly has a list of K-Street lobbyists and each list entry is labeled "friendly" or "not friendly." If a lobbyist is "not friendly" - contributes to Democrats - he is treated as an enemy. Those "friendly" to Republicans get respect. This is the way the ringmaster keeps lobbyists and their clients under control.

By building and strengthening the Republican Rings of Corruption, Republicans plan to make America a one-party state. They are on their way towards unlimited power - unless they are stopped. The only group that can destroy these Rings of Corruption and bring America back to a full-fledged democracy is the Democratic Party. Help fight Republican sleaze and help build the Democratic Party.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"I'm Not A President, But I Play One On T.V."

The Whte House made sure that there were plenty of shots of Bush on television showing him taking charge from afar, at command posts in Colorado Springs and San Antonio during Hurricane Rita...

Monday, September 26, 2005

FEMA WAS SURE READY FOR HURRICANE FRANCES... month before the election in 2004!

Read about it from FEMA's own Press Release

A reasonable person could conclude that two very important factors differentiate the Hurricane Frances preparedness from the Hurricane Katrina disaster:

1. Hurricane Frances was expected to touch down in Florida, the state governed by the president's brother.
2. The timing was 1 month before a presidential election.

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why the Right-Wing of America, who are so capable of manufacturing stunning conspiracy theories about everyone from the Illuminati to the "Murder of Vince Foster", become so child-like and innocent when it comes to the excretia of the machinery of the White House Turd Blossom.

How can one NOT look at the facts above and come to the reasonable conclusion that George W. Bush can care mightily about one place at one time but not give a damn about another place at another time?

We can now add to our list of "race, class, and political affiliation" of possible elements contributing to Katrina negligence, two new elements: the lack of a family relationship to the president and the absence of a political campaign cycle.

By the way, I heard on the radio today that the Generals who were briefing Bush at the Texas Air Base where the president was "visibly observing" Hurricane Rita, now charcterize the Katrina response as a "Train Wreck" because "... a call would go out for rescue and 5 Blackhawk helicopters would respond to rescue 1 person from a rooftop..."

I see...the problem with Katrina response was too many resources, but poorly coordinated...

By the time the White House Ministry of Propoganda completes it's makover of the events of the Storm, we will be calling this a 'friendly-fire' incident in the War on Terrorism and cease our endless carping on the poor Commander-in-Chief...

Sunday, September 25, 2005


When it comes to governing, the Bush-Era Republican Party is singularly unfit.

I find great irony in the news of the past couple of days that "fiscal conservatives" in the Republican party are wringing their hands over the "impact on the growing deficit" from the multi-billion dollar recovery package proposed by president Bush for post-Katrina recovery. We heard none of this deficit outcry when the White House was on track to making permanent the multi-trillion dollar tax cut pushed through congress a couple of years ago.

The problem for the Anti-Government Republicans, of course, is that Katrina has reminded Washington that government exists for something other than funding wars and paying for lobbyists. The unmasking of poverty in America for all the world to see is diplomatically embarrassing; the underfunding of domestic infrastructure needs that led to disaster is politically damaging . Now Washington is trying to play catch-up. But the Republican Party may not have the capacity to govern. This may become the Republican Party's version of the 1970s McGovernites internal conflict with Blue-Collar Democrats.

In a column last year, Washington Post Columnist Sebastian Mallaby examined this problem for the Republican Party (Monday, June 14, 2004; Page A17)

As John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge argue in their smart new book, "The Right Nation," for every Cato Institute libertarian, the GOP harbors a moralist who wants government to regulate your private life; for every anti-tax crusader, there is a neocon who believes that government should strive to instill such virtues as patriotism, educational discipline and marital fidelity. And that's before you start counting the foreign policy hawks, who want more military spending, or the endless crony capitalists, who want government to hand out favors to their business buddies.

The policy wonks who were once employed by the government and informed congress of the administrative perspective have now been replaced by private lobbyists, think tanks and law firms--mostly filled with Republican cronies. Again, Sebastian Mallaby:

"Because it has gained control of Congress, its cronyism has blossomed; far from disdaining the lobbyists who seek to expand pork-barrel spending, the congressional Republican leadership has created its odious "K Street Project" to ensure that lobbyists hire plenty of Republicans. The Republicans, in turn, hire plenty of lobbyists. The head of the Republican National Committee is Ed Gillespie, who's made a fortune peddling influence. His predecessor is Marc Racicot, who proposed initially to work as a lobbyist even while holding the top party job..."

The unfitness of the Bush-era Republican Party to govern is based in it's fundamental hatred and distrust of government. How can a political establishment with a High Priest like Grover Norquist, anti-tax crusader and professional government-hater, possibly govern?

In a May 25, 2001 interview, Grover Norquist told National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Robert Farely points out the fundamental contradiction in Republican governance:

"The Republicans have managed a nifty trick over the last twenty-five years. They have worked ceaselessly to make government less effective, while at the same time deriving political benefit from inadequate government... That said, this is a point Democrats ought to make more forcefully: there's no reason for a party that doesn't trust government to be responsible for it. And it's their job to point out that "don't trust government" now means "don't trust the Republican Party".

Gary Kamiya, writing in Salon, brilliantly captured this dynamic of the Anti-Government Big Government of the Republicans back in 1999:

"Triangulating Democrats notwithstanding, the real home of anti-governmentalism remains the GOP -- and the more right-wing the Republican, the more extreme the rhetoric. GOP front-runner George W. Bush must play to the middle, but the True Believers who run Congress -- Dick Armey, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay -- are under no such constraints. These worthies have scarcely pulled their legs out of their pajamas before they've given the corrupt, bureaucratic, meddling elites in Washington their first whacking of the day. Since the deliverers of these speeches are themselves career politicians whose own snouts have snuffled deeply in the loamy D.C. soil, this spectacle is oddly surreal -- somewhat like the René Magritte painting of a pipe that declares, "This is not a pipe."

All of this reminds me of a comment I heard back in Alaska, a state that has been victimized by a particularly virulent form of Republican anti-governmental neanderthalism:

"Antigovernment politicians run for office claiming that government doesn't work, then they get elected and, sure enough, they prove themselves right!"

What has been true in Alaska for decades is proving true in America today.

A Collection of Headlines a run together sentence creates an interesting snapshot of this moment behind the Irony Curtain (b/t/w--it's beautiful, cool and sunny in Seattle):

Bush Told U.S. Needs Post-Disaster Plan Rick Perry Flies Over Texas Cities Hit By Rita Cheney Walks Slowly Prisoner Abuse Hurts U.S. Image Hughes Launches U.S. Image Makeover Among Muslims U.S. Diplomate on 'Mission Impossible' to Mideast Republicans Offer Spending Cuts Bush Has Active Day Monitoring Hurricane Rita Bush Takes Public Role Monitoring Rita Frist Stock Sale Draws Regulatory Scrutiny Refiners Big Winners As Gas Prices Soar...

Whew!...Looks Like Business As Usual in America!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Westlake Plaza, Seattle, September 24, 2005

This is America speaking Truth to Power...a beautiful day with beautiful people. Thanks to all for letting me take their picture!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

An Open Letter To The Citizens of Oregon: Dump The Cap--And Dick Armey!

An Open Letter To Citizens Of Oregon: Dump The Cap—And Dick Armey.

Oregon is becoming the next battleground in the spreading fight between anti-tax activists who want to cap government spending and their opponents who say that such a move would put schools and social services at risk.

It is irony, indeed, that the agent provocateur behind these many "movements" is FreedomWorks, a D.C. Conservative consulting group that, basically, lights the fire under the pot and then gets paid to stir it. The Chief "Stirrer" is none other than Dick Armey. Therein lies the irony. Armey has done as much as anyone to cause the current fiscal woes of state and local governments. By limiting federal programs and reducing the federal funding to states and local governments in favor of massive tax breaks for the rich, Dick Armey help to force local government to raise taxes to serve those federal citizens within their jurisdictions. Now Armey is getting fat by going around the country and fighting those local governments as a paid consultant to anti-tax groups upset over the burden he has saddled them with. He is like a modern day patent-medicine man. I call it Dick Armey's Fiscal Patent Medicine & Anti-Tax Campaign. Armey's Fiscal Elixir of Tax Caps really do no good, in fact may be harmful, but it sure feels good after you take it.

Dick Armey was House Majority Leader in 2001 when the 1.6 Trillion dollar tax cut went through Congress. Remember the $5.6 Trillion Clinton surplus? It was still intact then and Armey had his eye on it. In an interview with CNN back in 2001, the audience could almost hear Armey licking his chops: "We certainly are capable of achieving more, and there's room within the $5.6 trillion surplus to look beyond the $1.6 trillion number." But Armey didn't want to stop there; he wanted a package of tax cuts for businesses, including slashing capital gains taxes. So profligate was Armey's slashing of federal revenues, that he even got into conflict with Dennis Hastert and the White House.

The result of Armey's leadership, we all know too well: The surplus was wiped out and we are now in the throes of massive federal deficits. A major consequence of his handiwork? Cuts in federal aid to state and local governments. Cuts in federal programs are particularly hard when they constitute "unfunded mandates" such as education "reform". State supplements to medicare/medicaid are required when the feds cut their support. Thus, as the federal government withdrew during the Armey years, the states had to step in to maintain the social safety net for the working poor and the middle class. Another consequence of Armey's leadership is also that the numbers of Americans categorizes as poor and working poor have increased, making the burden upon states and local governments even greater.

For Oregon, the impact of Armey's shredding of the federal side of the federalist partnership with states is particularly dramatic: the state government has lopped $285 million from statewide school funding. Oregon schools get some money from local property taxes, but 71 percent of it comes from the state. And it's not just schools under Oregon's budget ax. The state is also slashing $200 million from its health care program for the low-income and $60 million from public safety. The governor's health advisory panel reports, of those the state has cut off, 92 percent now have no prescription drug coverage; 45 percent rely on drug companies for charity care, and most of those only get some of the medications they need. And the state cut off prescription drug coverage for 7,000 other Oregonians.

Comes now, Dick Armey, in his thousand-dollar suit and his bulbous nose sniffing the air in search of a sucker. In Oregon, he sure found 'em...thousands of them who will throw money at him to save them from the onerous and burdensome income tax increase of $81.00 a year. Oregon hasn't had an income tax increase for 75 years, but just the threat of such a thing was enough for those who object to such an increase to give that much and more to Dick Armey's fiscal Patent Medicine & Anti-Tax Campaign. By the time Dick Armey's patent medicine show rolls out of Oregon, local rubes like Russ Walker, a leader in the misnamed Citizens for a Sound Economy, will be intoxicated with the delusion that they have actually accomplished something and "Doc" Armey and his band of Anti-Tax gypsies will be hundreds of thousands of dollars richer and moving on to their next target.

So here's a question for all you Tax-Cappers in light of the Katrina disaster: Why don't you just give your money to your own state and local governments and give Dick Armey the boot? You don't need him. Caps are for the lazy citizen who doesn't want to be bothered with the daily task of citizen involvement. Tax caps are a cop-out. Individual rights and responsibilities? You bet...and that is not what Caps are.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The German Election & Hurrican Katrina

In 2002, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, facing a tough re-election resorted to a tried and true formula in the "Old Europe"--run against Bush. Throughout 2002, the Bush administration had been sticking its finger in Berlin's eye over global warming, trade, and the International Criminal Court. The result was that, according to a poll by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the German Marshall Fund of the United States at the time, 62 percent of Germans rated American foreign policy as either fair or poor. And that led Schroeder, facing a tough reelection challenge, to curry public favor by slamming the Bush administration's Iraq policy. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Schroeder faces another election and it is no secret that the Bushniks are supporting his opponent, Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Party.

In Today's editions, Deutche Welle ran an article entitled Merkel's Fans In Washington which states (in part)

After riding a wave of anti-Bush sentiment to victory in 2002, Germany's miserable economic state has forced Schröder to focus on domestic issues in his uphill battle to re-election. Opinion polls show that Merkel, candidate for the Christian Democrats, has a good chance at becoming the country's first female chancellor. But up to 30 percent of the electorate remains undecided. Merkel, 51, has said that one of her priorities if elected would be mending the poisoned relationship with the United States, while still not sending troops to Iraq. Washington is also interested in her aggressive pro-free market agenda. Although Bush officials refuse to publicly comment on the outcome of the Sunday vote, privately they say a Merkel victory would be a welcome change.
"If the administration representatives are honest they'll tell you 'Well this is a fresh start and Merkel's victory would be a good thing'," said Jackson Janes, director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.
"We got a lot of leftovers with the Schröder team and we'll probably never be able to change that, so if we get a new team in Berlin it's an opportunity." Janes and others warned, however, that if Merkel wins on Sunday, the Bush administration shouldn't rush to pop the champagne corks. "I don't think that we here in Washington should escalate our expectations that her parameters would be significantly bigger than Schröder's," Janes said.,1564,1711004,00.html

The Bushniks were, undoubtedly, rubbing their hands with glee mumbling "Rückzahlung ist ein bitch!" as they laundered support to the Merkel faction hoping to "pay back" Schroeder for his independence from the White House. Then Came Katrina.

Just as he leveraged the electorate's dusgust with Bush's foreign policy culminating in the saber-rattling over Iraq in 2002, Katrina provides Schroeder with an important disconnect between the German psyche and the Bushniks supporting Ms Merkel.

Images of poverty, social safety net failures, and bungled leadership suddenly soured the milk of closeness between the Christian Democrats and the American Republican party and their advisors. Striking at a pivotal issue for the Greens and the Social Democratic base, Shroeder's supporters were quick to link Katrina with the Kyoto Accord and global warming.

The Bush administration's withdrawal from Kyoto is highly unpopular in Europe. Jürgen Trittin, a Green Party member, who takes space in the Frankfurter Rundschau, a paper friendly with the Social Democrats, to bash US President George W. Bush's environmental laxity. He begins by likening the photos and videos of the hurricane stricken areas to scenes from a Roland Emmerich sci-fi film and insists that global warming and climate change are making it ever more likely that storms and floods will plague America and Europe.

"There is only one possible route of action," he writes. "Greenhouse gases have to be radically reduced and it has to happen worldwide. Until now, the US has kept its eyes shut to this emergency. (Americans) make up a mere 4 percent of the population, but are responsible for close to a quarter of emissions." He adds that the average American is responsible for double as much carbon dioxide as the average European. "The Bush government rejects international climate protection goals by insisting that imposing them would negatively impact the American economy. The American president is closing his eyes to the economic and human costs his land and the world economy are suffering under natural catastrophes like Katrina and because of neglected environmental policies."

But the impact from Katrina on the German Elections doesn't end with the environmental parry. Merkel's economic assumptions are in jeaprody.

The shockwaves from Hurricane Katrina reached the German electoral campaign yesterday as economists warned the sharp rise in oil prices could throw the next government's economic reform plans into disarray. Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, the frontrunner ahead of the September 18 election, could come under pressure to delay a planned rise in value-added tax once in power because of concerns about the damping effect of record petrol prices on consumer demand, they said. "The [petrol price] rise could make it easier for the FDP [the CDU's likely coalition partner, which opposes the VAT rise] to persuade the CDU not to raise VAT as much as it wants to or to delay the increase," said Holger Schmieding at Bank of America.
Katrina blows cold on German reform plan By Bertrand Benoit in Berlin Published: September 2 2005

The latest polls on election eve still predict a Christian Democratic victory, but Chancellor Schroeder has found new momentum as the precepts a strong public institutions gain new currency.

Will we see the same at work in the United States in 2006?

One can hope.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Parental Notification & The Establishment of Religion

The enactment of parental consent laws by States threatens the health of young women. The purpose of those laws is to create a barrier between a child and her doctor. The purported intent is to maintain the integrity of the parent-child relationship, but that is just a smokescreen.

Once Governor Blunt of Missouri signs the new parental consent law passed this week by his states' legislature, the law would immediately allow lawsuits against anyone who helps a teen obtain an abortion without parental consent.

Rep. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, who shepherded the bill to passage, said the legislation would discourage teens from traveling to the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, which under Illinois law does not require parental consent. The law recently enacted in Missouri holds the doctor liable for 'damages' if the doctor fails to notify the parents under law. Again, this is another restriction on the medical judgement of the doctor. Precedent exists in which the state intervened to save a sick child whose life was in jeaprody because the religious beliefs of the parents interfered with medical intervention.

In 1944, the US Supreme Court ruled in the case Prince v. Massachusetts (321 U.S. 158): “…neither rights of religion nor rights of parenthood are beyond limitation. Acting to guard the general interest in youth’s well being, the state as parens patriae may restrict the parent’s control. …Its authority is not nullified merely because the parent grounds his claim to control the child’s course of conduct on religion or conscience. Thus, he cannot claim freedom from compulsory vaccination for the child more than for himself on religious grounds. The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death. …the state has a wide range of power for limiting parental freedom and authority in things affecting the child’s welfare; and that this includes, to some extent, matters of conscience and religious conviction.” The Court added, “Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves.” These points were specifically applied to cases of parents refusing consent to medical treatment in Jehovah’s Witnesses v. King County Hospital, (390 U.S. 598 (1968); 278 F. Supp. 488 (1967). In this per curiam ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed a District Court ruling which upheld a Washington statute that placed children in state custody when parents refused lifesaving treatment. The basis for the District Court’s ruling was Prince v. Mass. [see NOTE]

It is concievable that a child might have a medical condition that would endanger her life if a pregnancy is allowed to go full term. Let us assume that this child has unprotected sex and a few days later goes to a clinic to request a D&C or similar procedure. There is no issue of fetal viability at this stage. Based upon the child's medical history, the doctor determines that the child needs medical intervention to terminate possible pregnancy. The doctor has reason to believe that the parents would not allow the procedure. The doctor understands that, if the child becomes pregnant, the difficulty of intervention increases proportionately with the viability of the fetus. Under Missouri Law, in this case, the state is in the position of interfering with medical intervention in deference to the religious belief of the parents. This is in direct conflict with the state's established role of guardian of the health of the child. Priority is given to the protection of religious belief by the state over the health of the child.

In another case, suppose a child has unprotected sex and confides as much with a faith-based counselor instead of going to a medical doctor for intervention. Suppose further that this child's parents believe in medical intervention to terminate a pregnancy to ensure the health of the mother. In addition, the parents understand that their child has a fragile medical history. Finally, in this scenario, the faith-based organization fails to notify the parents of their daughter's condition...focusing instead only on counseling. When the child becomes obviously pregnant and ill, the parents learn of the collusion between the child and the faith-based counseling organization.

There is an identical argument for the pro-choice parents against the faith-based organization who failed to notify the parents. They (the faith-based org) interferred with the integrity of the relationship between parent and child. In this case, by so doing, the Faith-based organization not only interferred with the parental relationship with the child, they also interferred with the relationship between the child's doctor and his patient.

Failure to consider potential interference by churches and other faith-based organizations under "Parental Notification" laws creates multiple constitutional problems:

* It violates the "Establishment" clause of the Constitution by favoring a faith-based interference with the parent-child relationship;

* It violates "Equal Protection" by favoring one class of parents who are subject to statuatory notice over another class of parents who have an equal interest in parental notification

* It predicates an alienation of affection and other consequences of interference between the pro-choice hoiusehold and their child, while virtually sanctifying the parent-child relationship in the faith-based household. This diminishment of the relative value of pro-choice families establishes a structural discrimination between those who are subject to state sanction and those who are not purely based upon religious belief.

The Religious Right has no franchise on family values and the love for children. It is outrageous for legislatures to establish such false claims of franchise and for the Courts to uphold them.
[Note] Many thanks to Forum: Law 17 Fall 2000 Final Legal Research Paper Date: 2003, May 17 Philip Nichols for this cite!

Monday, September 12, 2005


LONDON (AFP) - The coalition at the forefront of a British campaign to fight poverty in Africa has been banned from advertising on radio and television after the nation's media watchdog decided it was a "political" organisation.

Make Poverty History, a coalition of more than 500 charities and social groups, said Monday it was "disappointed" by the decision from OFCOM, just days before world leaders gather in New York where the plight of the world's poor is on the agenda of the World Summit at UN headquarters.

Its advertisement -- in which the likes of rock star Bono and model Claudia Schiffer snap their fingers every three seconds, symbolising how often a child dies as a result of poverty somewhere in the world -- has been on the air for several months. Despite the fact that no one lodged a complaint, OFCOM said Make Poverty History was "wholly or mainly political" in that it sought to "achieve important changes" to British and Western government policy.

For that reason, it said, the advertisement can no longer be aired.

Adrian Lovett of the development charity Oxfam, a member of the Make Poverty History coordination team, said the global poverty issue was not "party political", but seen by millions as "the great moral issue of our time".

"We're disappointed with this decision," he said. "This advertisement simply highlights the fact that a child dies every three seconds because of preventable poverty."

Make Poverty History was behind a large peaceful march in Edinburgh in July that called for robust action on aid, trade and debt from the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations to combat endemic poverty in Africa.
*************************************************************************** it logical to infer that a "PRO-poverty" message would be acceptable since that would NOT achieve important changes to British and Western Policy and, hence, would NOT be political?

No Bread? Let Them Eat Spotted Dick!

Friday, September 09, 2005

"It's Not A Racial Thing..." -Powell

"These are people who don't have credit cards; only one in 10 families at that economic level in New Orleans have a car. So it wasn't a racial thing — but poverty disproportionately affects African-Americans in this country. And it happened because they were poor," he said.

Colin Powell, Interview With Barbara Walters 9/8/05. (Emphasis added).

Whew. I feel better being able to let THAT shibboleth go! Thanks Colin...


The other night on Tavis Smiley, two photos were shown to the audience
...the photos reproduced here.

Photo no. 1 is of a white couple wading through chest deep water with some supplies they had taken from a nearby store. The caption on that photo, fed throughout the world on the newswires is: "Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.(AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythen)"
Photo No. 2 is of a black man, wading through chest deep water with some supplies he had taken from a nearby store. The caption on THAT photo on the newswires is: "A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) "

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Barbara Bush: It's Good Enough For The Poor

John Nichols
The Nation

-- Finally, we have discovered the roots of George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism."

On the heels of the president's "What, me worry?" response to the death, destruction and dislocation that followed upon Hurricane Katrina comes the news of his mother's Labor Day visit with hurricane evacuees at the Astrodome in Houston.

Commenting on the facilities that have been set up for the evacuees -- cots crammed side-by-side in a huge stadium where the lights never go out and the sound of sobbing children never completely ceases -- former First Lady Barbara Bush concluded that the poor people of New Orleans had lucked out.

"Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them," Mrs. Bush told American Public Media's "Marketplace" program, before returning to her multi-million dollar Houston home.

On the tape of the interview, Mrs. Bush chuckles audibly as she observes just how great things are going for families that are separated from loved ones, people who have been forced to abandon their homes and the only community where they have ever lived, and parents who are explaining to children that their pets, their toys and in some cases their friends may be lost forever. Perhaps the former first lady was amusing herself with the notion that evacuees without bread could eat cake.

At the very least, she was expressing a measure of empathy commensurate with that evidenced by her son during his fly-ins for disaster-zone photo opportunities.

On Friday, when even Republican lawmakers were giving the federal government an "F" for its response to the crisis, President Bush heaped praise on embattled Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown. As thousands of victims of the hurricane continued to plead for food, water, shelter, medical care and a way out of the nightmare to which federal neglect had consigned them, Brown cheerily announced that "people are getting the help they need."

Barbara Bush's son put his arm around the addled FEMA functionary and declared, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Like mother, like son. Even when a hurricane hits, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The White House Is Working 24/7 On Rescue Mission...
...To Salvage Bush's Image Damaged By The Storm.

"The way that emergency operations work, under the law, is the responsibility, the power, and the authority to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials"

"The federal government comes in and supports those officials"
-Michael Chertoff on NBC "Meet The Press", September 4, 2005

"...we wanted soldiers, helicopters, food and water" said Denise Bottcher, press secretary for Governor Blanco of Louisiana. "They wanted to negotiate an organizational Chart" -NYT, 9/5/2005: "After Failures, Officials Play Blame Game"

"[The White House]...was echoed throughout the day Republicans reflecting the White House line. 'We've picked up the ball and you can decide for yourself--you being the people in the media--who dropped it in the first place' said one Republican close to the White House."
-NYT, 9/5/2005: "White House Enacts A Plan To Ease Political Damage"

"Far from deferring to state or local officials, FEMA asserted its authority [and] made things worse, said Aaron Broussard, the president of Jefferson Parish, south of New Orleans. When Wal-Mart sent three trailer trucks loaded with water, FEMA officials turned them away, he said. Agency workers prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and on Saturday, the cut the parish's emergency communications line, leading the sheriff to restore it and post armed guards to protect it from FEMA, Mr. Broussard said. -NYT, 9/5/2005: "After Failures [ibid]"

Friday, September 02, 2005

What Does Bush Think...?

The brain is divided into , roughly, three parts: the reticular, the limbic and the frontal or cortical regions. The first rules the Wide World of Wrestling, the second rules the Desperate Housewives and the third rules PBS--on its better days. Of course there is overlap of the regions, especially when it comes to the complicated socio-cultural aspects of death, sex and syntax. Michel Foucault invented a shorthand for measuring the personality of social leadership: how they view their enemies.

I just got done watching C-SPAN for an hour of George Bush travelling the hurrican devastated Gulf Region. I only watched sporatically as I was broiling toast and cheese for dinner, but here is what I saw. George Bush first in Alabama rehearsing the talking points to be made at all the stops including Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans. There were six points he repeated:

1. This was a heckuva a storm, but not the worst in history
2. We'll rebuild better than before
3. We will do a better job than we have done up to now
4. Thanks to all the courageous people and politicians
5. Give cash to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross
6. Faith-based and Community-based organizations will lead the way

These were not bad things for people to hear. They were not particularly meaningful, either--except to reassure his base, which doubtless is a major objective in the rescue effort over the next days. There was plenty of touching and affecting footage of Bush mingling with people (I am an admitted sucker for such things and Bush does it well). Afterward I wondered: what does this guy really think about when he is alone?

Is George Bush like most of the other contemporary presidents, save Reagan, who were Presidents having a 'cortical dominant' nature? These presidents possessed a sense of the history of the office. So I wondered, does Bush whisper to the ghosts of Washington, Jefferson and Adams when alone? Does he converse with their portraits? Does he ponder the consequences of even his smallest word? Surely Bush has noticed that when he sneezes, noses are wiped in London, Islamabad and Tel Aviv. Does that humble him? Does it fill him with awe?

Does George Bush marvel at the machinery he commands? Does he have a childlike sense of wonder at the science, technology or the telos of the institutions under his control? There is a wonderful story of Richard Nixon sneaking out of the White House in the middle of the night to engage a group of young anti-war demonstrators in discussion. Nixon was motivated by the notion that if only he could talk to these young people they would see that he was neither the monster nor the fool that the 'liberal' media made him out to be. A friend of mine, who told me this story, remarked: "...can you imagine being with a group of buddies, lying around in sleeping bags--maybe after smoking a joint-- and all of a sudden, out of the fog comes Richard Nixon wanting to talk to you?" Even Nixon, famous for his insularity, found the White House stifling. This is a 'frontal lobe' president. In Nixon's case, there was a lot of serotonin reuptake in the mix, but he was definitely a dominant frontal lobe President. The Motto of the Frontal Lobites: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer"

Or is George Bush more like Paris Hilton? In such a 'limbic-dominant' presidency, George would be spending his down time NOT thinking. Hell, he spends almost 6 hours a day thinking, give a guy a break! At such times, he plays Yahtzee with Laura or watches a DVD. It's not likely Bush has any hobbies...certainly not reading or, the avoidance of thinking must be a challenge. When he does think, the limbic president would be contemplating who is up and who is down; who can be trusted, who can't. Limbics love gossip, drama and tend to be borderline personalities. The Limbics Motto: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend"

Or is our President really Slobogeorge Milosobush, the 'reticular-dominant' fascist eeking out reason from the brain stem? They say: "fuck the enemy"

The generous conclusion is that George W. Bush is a melange of all three personalities. But really...what DOES George Bush think about when he is all alone?

My Motto: "We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us"


ALASKANS! A Category 5 Political Storm Is Coming!

Ron Fournier, AP Political Writer posted today (September 2, 2005) this view of the politicians who failed the victims of Hurricane Katrina:

"Just last year, the Army Corps of Engineers sought $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans. The White House slashed the request to about $40 million. Congress finally approved $42.2 million, less than half of the agency's request.

Yet the lawmakers and Bush agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-laden highway bill that included more than 6,000 pet projects for lawmakers. Congress spent money on dust control for Arkansas roads, a warehouse on the Erie Canal and a $231 million bridge to a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.

How could Washington spend $231 million on a bridge to nowhere — and not find $42 million for hurricane and flood projects in New Orleans? It's a matter of power and politics.

Alaska is represented by Republican Rep. Don Young (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, and Republican Sen. Ted Stevens (news, bio, voting record), a senior member of the all-important Senate Appropriations Committee. Louisiana's delegation holds far less sway..."

The Alaskan Delegation has been low on statesmanship since our founding delegation of Gruening, Bartlett and Rivers leveraged the goodwill of the nation into massive federal funding and pro-Alaskan policies during those foundling years.

Since that time, the image of Alaska's delegation has been dominated by flakey (Gravel), goofy (Young), empty (Murkowski I) and arrogant (Stevens).

In a sense, Alaskans, like New Orleans, live in a political hole well below sea level. Stevens, Murkowski and Young are the levees holding back the natural forces of ego, avarice, and vengefulness that threatens to flood Alaska, were it not for the bulwark of committe chairmanships and a career of I.O.U's. Ted Stevens has built his political career on this very notion: he AND his arrogance are indespensible to the federal money and programs that feed Alaska's nearly taxless society.

But Ted Stevens is 86. Someday...soon... his pillar of the political levee will break and Alaska will be awash in a flood of recrimination.

The Day Ted Stevens dies, speakerphones and cell phones around the country and in Alaska's Corporate board rooms will be linking up in a collective bid to salvage any deal that is even remotely tied to Stevens' basket of intrerests.

The Day Ted Stevens dies, courtesy and professed affection will mask the dark designs of others,including some within Stevens' own party.

Soon after Ted Stevens dies, the still harbor of resentment will become turbulant with the splashing of discarded obligations and the chain mail of old threats, causing the waters to overflow.

...and when it does...

...May God Save Alaska!