Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wm F. Buckley Dead

Being that I'm as far left as it gets on many things, it may be surprising to find that I'm sad to hear that Wm. F. Buckley has died. I always enjoyed his show (Firing Line). I couldn't have disagreed more on most of what he had to say, but I always enjoyed his enthusiasm and arguments. He was wrong so often (IMHO) but loved that he actually had an argument to make for his views. Something that we see precious little of these days of knee-jerk right-wingism. Evolution is bad because it is. Or Gay marriage is bad because it is. Good grief, if you have an argument against something, then make it. If you can't, maybe there's something wrong with what you're arguing for doofus!

RIP Bill.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Supporting the Troops - The Bush Version

There never seems to be an end to this or that administration official crowing about their admiration and support for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reminders time and time again from conservatives & Republicans that the rest of us want to "help the terrorists" by trying to end the war, or demand a continuation of our constitutional rights. So when non-citizen soldiers heard that the administration promised to fast track their road to citizenship, they believed them.

Well, what do you expect, they're not citizens yet, so they're not used to the Bush administration's consistent policy of screwing over any and all citizens they can. Today's NYTimes, taking a bit of a break from fist-a-cuffs with McCain, looks at the long, long, long, long, long wait for citizenship that those soldiers are experiencing.
One, Sgt. Kendell K. Frederick of the Army, who had tried three times to file for citizenship, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq as he returned from submitting fingerprints for his application.

About 7,200 service members or people who have been recently discharged have citizenship applications pending, but neither the Department of Defense nor Citizenship and Immigration Services keeps track of how long they have been waiting. Immigration lawyers and politicians say they have received a significant number of complaints about delays because of background checks, misplaced paperwork, confusion about deployments and other problems.

“I’ve pretty much given up on finding out where my paperwork is, what’s gone wrong, what happened to it,” said Abdool Habibullah, 27, a Guyanese immigrant who first applied for citizenship in 2005 upon returning from a tour in Iraq and was honorably discharged from the Marines as a sergeant. “If what I’ve done for this country isn’t enough for me to be a citizen, then I don’t know what is.” . . .

But service members and veterans are supposed to go to the head of the line. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush signed an executive order allowing noncitizens on active duty to file for citizenship right away, instead of having to first complete three years in the military. The federal government has since taken several steps to speed up the process, including training military officers to help service members fill out forms, assigning special teams to handle the paperwork, and allowing citizenship tests, interviews and ceremonies to take place overseas.

At the same time, post-9/11 security measures, including tougher guidelines for background checks that are part of the naturalization process, have slowed things down.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which checks the names of citizenship applicants against those in its more than 86 million investigative files, has been overwhelmed, handling an average of 90,000 name-check requests a week. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the F.B.I. was asked to check 4.1 million names, at least half of them for citizenship and green card applicants, a spokesman said.

“Most soldiers clear the checks within 30 to 60 days, or 60 to 90 days,” said Leslie B. Lord, the Army’s liaison to Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that processes citizenship applications. “But even the soldier with the cleanest of records, if he has a name that’s very similar to one that’s in the F.B.I. bad-boy and bad-girl list, things get delayed.”

Such explanations are why Mr. Habibullah has decided that once he does become a citizen — if he ever becomes a citizen — he will change his name.

“I figured that’s part of the reason things got delayed,” he said. “You know, that I have a Muslim name.”

Nah, that can't have anything to do with it. And I'm sure that our soldier citizens-in-waiting with Latin surnames would agree. It's just the luck of the draw. The article goes on to look at examples of soldiers who can't make appointments or file paperwork because they are IN IRAQ at the time.

Are You Damned?

Fortunately for me, the tenets of my faith (Methodist) are more lenient on my soul's future than that of other faiths. As Joe Feuerherd reminded us in todays WaPo, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has determined that Catholics voting for pro-choice candidates (such as the two finalists in the democratic race) just might endanger their souls.
It's not only lawmakers and candidates who risk damnation, 98 percent of the U.S. bishops agreed last November, but the voters who put them in office. "It is important to be clear," the bishops said in a 44-page statement titled "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," "that the political choices faced by citizens[emphasis added] not only have an impact on general peace and prosperity but also may affect the individual's salvation."

To Catholics like me who oppose liberal abortion laws but also think that other issues -- war or peace, health care, just wages, immigration, affordable housing, torture -- actually matter, the idea that abortion trumps everything, all the time, no matter what, is both bad religion and bad civics. It's not, for God's sake, as though we're in Nazi Germany and supporting Hitler.

Or is it? Amazingly, at least one influential bishop has made just that comparison publicly, and it's a good bet that many others believe it privately.

"In our country we have, for the most part, allowed the party of death and the court system it has produced to eliminate, since 1973, upwards of 40 million of our fellow citizens without allowing them to see the light of day," wrote Rockford, Ill., Bishop Thomas Doran in 2006. "No doubt, we shall soon outstrip the Nazis in doing human beings to death." He continued, "We know . . . that adherents of one political party would place us squarely on the road to suicide as a people."

That Doran forgets his history (five of the seven justices who supported Roe v. Wade were actually appointed by Republican presidents) doesn't obscure his point. He is not alone among Catholic bishops in his attempt to anathematize the Democrats, to make the party and its candidates illegitimate in the mind of the electorate. George Weigel -- papal biographer and intellectual guru to the new generation of conservative bishops -- said as much, as the wafer wars reached a fevered pitch. "The Republican Party is a more secure platform from which Catholics can work on the great issues of the day than a party in thrall to abortion 'rights,' gay activism, and a utilitarian approach to the biotech future that is disturbingly reminiscent of 'Brave New World,' " he wrote in his syndicated column.

Best of luck to my Catholic friends voting for democrats this November.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Read it and weep

There is a long, comprehensive headliner in Sunday's New York Times outlining with precision and detail how the Putin election fraud machine works in a regional Russian city. Readers unfamiliar with Putin's m.o. will learn the secrets of his "success" with voters--intimidation, coercion, media domination, violence against opponents, threats against even the mildest critics, and tons and tons of cash for youngsters willing to travel to Moscow to "spontaneously" launch demonstrations for Putin and intimidate passersby who look cross-eyed at them. It is sick, sick, sick, all of it, and true, too-- I've seen a number of these tactics up close and personal.

But then you get to the reader comment section, featuring feedback from Russian readers, and the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach gets worse, not better. Even allowing for the fact that the security services monitor these kinds of sites, this comment from "happy bro" is devastating because it has the unmistakable ring of truth:

"It is funny to read this from people who, for 10 years have invaded other countries, toppled the stable regimes that ruled and enforced their rules there. Especially funny to read it if you don’t forget about prisons and tortures in Guantanamo. And completely funny when you recall how these people hanged the former president of the country they invaded. Why am I saying this? Because Mr. Putin and his team are evil, of course. And only cattle vote for him. BUT these are OUR problems. And WE will sort them out. And you, you’d better write a couple of stories about why a person who is considered an imbecile by 80 percent of the globe’s population is elected for a second term. Also, don’t forget to write what are you still doing in Iraq (you have not found either nuclear, chemical, biological weapons there, so stop pumping oil for free and get back home)."

On the basis of this and so many other, similar assessments, I think it would be impossible to overstate how much damage President Bush has done to this country all around the world. I don't have a clue how the next President, whoever it is, will begin to repair it. I'm completely at a loss.

Was blind...and now, I see!

I'm relieved to read today that the standard-bearers for Mom, God and Apple Pie, the people who define for the country what true Americanism is, are gearing up to show us the way in this all-important Presidential contest. And I've come to my senses and realized that the true path certainly doesn't lead to Barack Obama, because he has been flunking all their tests in spectacular fashion.

First, his wife, Michele, told a crowd this week that her husband's candidacy makes her proud of her country for the first time in her adult life. In the Real Americans' view of events, America is great, a shining city on the hill, blessed by God, and anyone who doesn't think so is certainly not fit to darken the door of the White House. And that anyone includes spouses of the offending speakers.

Second, Barack Obama himself has the temerity to refuse to wear an American flag lapel pin on his suit jackets. He explained before the Iowa caucasuses that he felt the pins represented patriotism on the cheap, a gesture that absolves the wearer of any tangible efforts to help the country. Well, now, don't you be fooled by that! The flag cheerleaders at Fox News were quick to set us straight by informing us that the Senator in essence had spit on the American standard. He HATES the flag(!!!)

Actually, I thought those flag pins are for the people who tend to forget what country they live in, kind of a crib sheet that the Senator doesn't need himself, but I stand corrected.

And then he was glimpsed WITHOUT HIS HAND OVER HIS HEART during the playing of the National Anthem. It's apparently unthinkable for any American not to press his palm to his chest the minute the National Anthem sounds, anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances. I wasn't aware of this, but I guess I know now that I am no real American. I didn't pass this test either.

I know now that I've been so misguided in my support of Senator Obama. I'm grateful to the Real Americans out there for correcting the Senator and myself. I'm going to forget all about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the rise of China and India, climate change, crumbling infrastructure, global extremism and all the other issues I thought were important. The REAL test of a Presidential candidate, indeed of a Real American, is the degree to which he covers him or herself in glory...OLD GLORY!!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Get your piece of the action now!

This comes courtesy of a NFOGWB, non-friend of G.W. Bush...

The George W Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages. You'll want to be one of the first to make a contribution to this great man's legacy. The Library will include:

* The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
* The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you can't remember anything.
* The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't have to even show up.
* The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
* The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
* The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room (Which no one has been able to find).
* The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first tour, they make you to go back for second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth tours.
* The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.
* Plans also include: The K-Street Project Gift Shop - Where you can buy (or just steal) just about anything including an election.
* The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
* Last, but not least, there will be an entire floor devoted to a 7/8 scale model of the President's ego.
* To highlight the President's accomplishments, the museum will have an electron microscope to help you locate them.

Get your check ready...I'm sure you will want to fork over for this unique tribute to our 43rd President!

I Just Don't Care

I don't care what happened to Stacy Peterson, or the girl who is missing in Aruba, or the one missing in Spain. I don't care enough to remember their names. Although as I learned yesterday after spending a day at home without anything much to watch on tv, this is all the cable news people care about. And why I don't watch cable news. But I thought I'd give it a few hours in a day, just to see what's out there.

In a system that has world-wide coverage capabilities, that is looking for news to feed the 24-hour cable habit, apparently what is important are missing white women and missing white girls. No surprise to most of you I know. But one of those things that just triggered a mini outrage in my yesterday.

Do you want to know what is not important? Iraq and Afghanistan wars are not important anymore, although photographs and heartwarming stories of the troops are good pre-commercial filler. The long-lasting middle-east crisis is not important anymore (ok by me, I never know how to deal with that mess). Europe is not important, unless somebody torches a US embassy, then it gets to be all we hear about until somebody spots a little girl that looks like one missing in Spain. Darfur is definitely not important, and the entire existence of Africa seems to depend on Bush dancing while visiting there. And although Mexico and Canada share borders with us, they are not important. Although rounding up Latinos and sending them to Mexico (regardless of where they came from) does seem to be occasionally important. I am still awaiting the round up of Canadians when we finally send William Shatner back over the border. And despite the fact that many of the Latinos we're rounding up seem to come from Central America, that area is not only not important, but for all intents and purposes, invisible. Cool trick! South America is not important, although Venezuela will continue to be of occasional interest as long as they've got a leader who bashes our leader. After all, if the news doesn't reflect our view of the world, in essence, our dominance of the world, then could it really matter? And while southeast Asia was very important in the last election (or at least our last war there was), it's also managed to obtain that cloak of invisibility. South Korea used to exist only in reference to North Korea, but both of those have decided to co-exist in non-existence. Cuba managed a blimp on the screen existence when Fidel decided to officially give power to his brother, but then everyone decided that after decades of focusing on getting rid of Fidel, that wasn't what mattered at all, since Raul = Fidel now. China and India get to exist from time to time, thanks to either their increasing economic power or increasing bad environmental status. (Which is to say, how they impact us.) Russia depends on Putin doing something out of the ordinary insane or bombastic before it matters, but who can blame the news for ignoring Russia, after all, it's just a little nation with no nuclear capacity or threat whatsoever. Europe exists from time to time, but usually as a footnote about the US economy and what we can or can't afford in France this summer. As for the rest of the world (and yes, there is a rest of the world, believe it or not), we await a terrorist strike, a natural disaster, or a nice, bloody coup to attract our attention. Because unless we get that, how on earth can you expect us to tear ourselves away from the breaking news that Stacy Peterson is STILL missing!

Shocking News - Prepare Yourselves!

A congressional Republican is under indictment today for conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, extortion and insurance fraud. Unbelievable, isn't it!

Ok, yeah, I know, the unbelievable part of this is that we've gone for a couple of months without hearing about some sleezeball republican in the news for exposed anti-gay hypocrisy or taking money for votes and other fun influence peddling.

But here to break that mini-streak is Arizona representative Rick Renzi. Renzi of course claims he is innocent, but promises not to run for re-election, or so he says now. Thank you Sen. Craig for offering this new "out" - say you won't run, then change your mind at the last minute. So I'll believe it when I see it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Money for Nothing

The administration and Pentagon have been supporting the troops as usual. For two years part of that "support" was refusing to allocate funds for MRAPs (mine-resistant, ambush-protected) trucks.

While war funds flood to Halliburton and its subsidiaries, hundreds of US Marines have been killed or injured by roadside bombs in Iraq because they weren't protected by the latest equipment. No surprise to anyone, really. Has this administration or the Pentagon treated our troops as anything more than cannon fodder through this entire exercise in insanity? This from the AP:
Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant vehicles, an internal military study concludes. The study, written by a civilian Marine Corps official and obtained by The Associated Press, accuses the service of "gross mismanagement" that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks for more than two years. Cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down the request for the so-called MRAPs, according to the study. Stateside authorities saw the hulking vehicles, which can cost as much as a $1 million each, as a financial threat to programs aimed at developing lighter vehicles that were years from being fielded. . . .

Among the findings in the Jan. 22 study:

_ Budget and procurement managers failed to recognize the damage being done by IEDs in late 2004 and early 2005 and were convinced the best solution was adding more armor to the less-sturdy Humvees the Marines were using. Humvees, even those with extra layers of steel, proved incapable of blunting the increasingly powerful explosives planted by insurgents.

_ An urgent February 2005 request for MRAPs got lost in bureaucracy. It was signed by then-Brig. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, who asked for 1,169 of the vehicles. The Marines could not continue to take "serious and grave casualties" caused by IEDs when a solution was commercially available, wrote Hejlik, who was a commander in western Iraq from June 2004 to February 2005.

_ The Marine Corps' acquisition staff didn't give top leaders correct information. Gen. James Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, was not told of the gravity of Hejlik's MRAP request and the real reasons it was shelved, Gayl writes. That resulted in Conway giving "inaccurate and incomplete" information to Congress about why buying MRAPs was not hotly pursued.

_ The Combat Development Command, which decides what gear to buy, treated the MRAP as an expensive obstacle to long-range plans for equipment that was more mobile and fit into the Marines Corps' vision as a rapid reaction force. Those projects included a Humvee replacement called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and a new vehicle for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

_ The Combat Development Command has managers — some of whom are retired Marines — who lack adequate technical credentials. They have outdated views of what works on the battlefield and how the defense industry operates, Gayl says. Yet they are in position to ignore or overrule calls from deployed commanders.

And of course, for doing the study and sharing results, Franz Gayl was given several awards and lauded by President Bush as a hero and true American.

Ok, you got me. Of course not. Gayl ended up filing for whistle-blower protection when he was threatened with disciplinary action after meeting with congressional staff on Capitol Hill.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Now That's a Threat!

Bush is a bit peeved that Congress isn't falling in line with his warrantless surveillance program as quickly as he'd like. So he's threatened to STAY IN AMERICA, delaying his trip to Africa unless Congress acts before the program expires over the weekend.

Who wouldn't take that threat seriously? I mean, really, we have a chance to get the idiot out of the country and now we're threatened with him staying here a few more days? Yuck!

Not sure why he's threatening though. The Senate bent over and gave him what he wanted and asked for another. The House will probably do the same, although it is enjoyable watching the Republicans have a hissy fit over the House version. I predict that the bill will pass through just fine. It's not like the House Democrats are objecting to the warrantless part of the legislation, or even the surveillance part. No, they're annoyed that phone companies will get retroactive immunity for their participation.

Sure, it's annoying to think that the companies couldn't be held accountable for their actions, but let's face it, the government doesn't think it should be held accountable, so why fight over this part of the legislation? No, the House will cave and give the White House what it wants. Because that's what this Congress does. Cave in to Mr. 30% popularity at every chance they get.

Barack, Bez Buldyrabyz!

I think it's safe to say THIS will be news to you...

Alexander Osipovich of the Moscow Times has detected commonality in the campaigns of Dem Presidential hopeful Barack Obama and--are you ready for this?-- President of the Tatarstan region in Russia.

"They seem like an unlikely couple. One is a rising star of the U.S. Democratic Party, and the other is a former Soviet official who has ruled his republic of Russia since 1991. But U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama and Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev have something in common. In an apparent coincidence that has Tatar media outlets abuzz, the Obama slogan 'Yes, We Can!' has the same meaning as Shaimiyev's favorite catchphrase, which in Tatar is "Bez Buldyrabyz!"

Tatar media noticed the coincidence after seeing the 'Yes, We Can' music video made by supporters of the U.S. Democratic senator from Illinois, Kamal said. The video has gotten more than 3 million views on YouTube since being posted earlier this month.

...'Obama's borrowing of our slogan proves once again that we are fully in step with the times, and on some issues we are even ahead of the Americans," the web site wrote. "Our PR tactics are up-to-date, competitive and are even 'rented' by leading politicians."

The slogan 'Bez Buldyrabyz!' is ubiquitous in Tatarstan. Among other things, it has been the name of the official party newspaper of the Tatar branch of United Russia and the title of a 2006 essay contest for 11th-graders.
The slogan gained popularity two or three years ago after Shaimiyev began using it in his speeches, Kamal said.

A spokesman for Shaimiyev declined to comment about the similarity of the slogans, though he said he was aware of it and that, in his opinion, it was simply a coincidence. The Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

After capturing primary victories Tuesday in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., Obama for the first time overtook rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in the delegate race for the Democratic nomination. But it remains unclear whether the slogan will help Obama achieve the same stellar election results as Shaimiyev, who got more than 90 percent of the vote during his first re-election bid in 1996 -- a race in which he had no opponents -- and 79.6 percent during his last bid for re-election in 2001."

Now THAT'S a target, that 90% election success, worth achieving. Barack, Bez Buldyrabyz(?!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More on McCain...

Wait! There's more on McCain's travails in Washington state. Apparently the skipper DID eke out a win--a win declared BEFORE all the results were in and at a time when maybe a couple hundred votes separated McCain and Huckabee. McCain got an assist from the caucus chairman, a man named Esser, whom Josh Marshall has lampooned as a corpulent and corrupt southern-style "boss." The plot gets thicker when you discover Esser is a close friend of the McCain state chairman in Washington...anyway, you should go over to TPM and read all the sordid details for yourself. Needless to say, Huckabee campaign lawyers are on the scene as we speak.

Somehow, I recall that the GOP has a history of cutting off the vote total in close races when the result they want has been achieved...don't you remember reading about that someplace?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

McCain's Washington washout

By now, I should've learned to expect the unexpected in this campaign. But I admit to being stunned by John McCain's poor showing in my neighbor state of Washington last night. Washington state Republicans tend pragmatic and economic, rather than ideological/evangelical...there hasn't been anywhere near as many social-conservative initiatives here as economic/tax-limiting. Their dream state candidate is Dino Rossi, a businessman-turned-politician who just missed winning the governorship in 2004 and is challenging incumbent Chris Gregoire this coming year again, despite her relatively strong record of success and a state budget surplus.

McCain pulled down about 25% of Republican votes. Mike Huckabee, who by rights should really not be competitive here based on his social conservatism and unorthodox tax plan, was close behind at about 24%--in fact, the race between those two was too close to call late into last night. Plus, everyone seems to have forgotten about anti-war, anti-tax Ron Paul, who got another 20+% of the vote. I've seen a LOT of Ron Paul lawn signs and bumper stickers in my mid-sized eastern Washington workplace. If you do the math, only a third of pragmatic Washington Republican supported their presumptive nominee yesterday--pretty surprising for a party that supposedly falls into line when the nominee is determined.

They're just not cottoning to McCain as you would expect them to...there's a lot of unhappiness out there, and at least two vehicles for that unhappiness remaining in this race. Rough waters ahead for the skipper, if the Washington state results are the beginning of a trend.

Musical Meltdown in McCainland

Everyone says one of the best ways to get to know a person, or a candidate--are candidates people?--is to get him or her to disclose the contents of his/her IPod. So far, we haven't discovered much about the Clinton or Obama playlist, beyond the fact that HRC must have a lot of Celine Deon and Obama probably has a copy of the famous "Obama girl" vid. But we know for a fact that John Cougar Mellencamp, the bard of Bloomington, friend of beseiged workers and farmers everywhere, isn't long for John McCain's MP3. Mellencamp was indignant that his songs were on McCain's playlist and a feature of his rallies since McCain has now embraced the Bush tax cuts and war-without-end foreign policy, so he directed his publicist to send a letter to the presumptive Republican nominee and tell him to cease and desist with Mellencamp music. Read the whole story here.

There's plenty of theme music he could use to replace Mellencamp..."In the Navy," by the Village People; "the Merry Minuet," by the Kingston Trio(you remember: "But we can be thankful and tranquil and proud...that man's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud"), theme from "Top Gun," the soundtrack from the TV series "Flipper," "Barbara Ann," transformed by McCain into "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran...," "Money," by Pink Floyd, in honor of his tax cut me with this, there's gotta be more...

And what about Obama and Clinton-centric soundtracks? What should be on their Ipods and/or at their events? The possibilities appear to be endless.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Enemy of My Enemy is Not My Friend

Has another arch conservative come out against McCain yet today? They are popping up all over the place to moan and groan against McCain not being "conservative enough" - one even saying that if it were a vote between Clinton & McCain she would vote for Clinton because she's "more conservative."

So why aren't I jumping up and down at the chance to have this left wing liberal loving Republican on the ballot?

Mostly because I'm not an idiot. Rush & Co., on the other hand ... are they merely idiots, as we've always assumed? Or are they bitching about McCain in hopes of tricking people into thinking he's a moderate guy? Well the enemy of my enemy isn't always my friend. Let's take a look at John's voting and issues records, shall we?
  • Supports repealing Roe v. Wade. (May 2007)
  • Voted YES on barring HHS grants to organizations that perform abortions. (Oct 2007)
  • Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Apr 2007)
  • Voted YES on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. (Jul 2006)
  • Voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted YES on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime. (Mar 2004)
  • Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life. (Mar 2003)
  • Voted YES on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions. (Jun 2000)
  • Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions. (Oct 1999)
  • Voted YES on banning human cloning. (Feb 1998)
  • Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Don't ask, don't tell is working; don't tamper with it. (Jun 2007)
  • Confederate flag on top of capitol was wrong; in front is ok. (May 2007)
  • Ten Commandments would bring virtue to our schools. (Jan 2000)
  • Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage. (Jan 2000)
  • Allow, but not mandate, school prayer. (Jan 2000)
  • Flying Confederate flag should be left to states. (Sep 1999)
  • Hollywood should voluntarily self-censor sex and violence. (Jul 1999)
  • Supports Amendment against flag-burning. (Apr 1999)
  • Affirmative action OK for specific programs, but no quotas. (Jul 1998)
  • Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
  • Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001)
  • Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
  • Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business. (Oct 1997)
  • Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
  • Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)
  • Voted YES on Amendment to prohibit flag burning. (Dec 1995)
  • Voted YES on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds. (Jul 1995)
  • Supports anti-flag desecration amendment. (Mar 2001)
  • Limit interstate class-action lawsuits to federal courts . (May 2002)
  • Rated 0% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Rated 33% by the HRC, indicating a mixed record on gay rights. (Dec 2006)
  • Rated 7% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted YES on reforming bankruptcy to include means-testing & restrictions. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted YES on restricting rules on personal bankruptcy. (Jul 2001)
  • Judges have limited scope under the Constitution. (Nov 2006)
  • More death penalty; stricter sentencing. (Jan 2000)
  • More community policing; enough hate crime laws. (Jan 2000)
  • Pro-death penalty; more prisons; increased penalties. (Jul 1998)
  • Voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals. (Apr 1996)
  • Voted YES on limiting product liability punitive damage awards. (Mar 1996)
  • Voted NO on restricting class-action lawsuits. (Dec 1995)
  • Voted YES on rejecting racial statistics in death penalty appeals. (May 1994)
  • Rated 29% by CURE, indicating anti-rehabilitation crime votes. (Dec 2000)
  • Rated 85% by the NCJA, indicating a "tough-on-crime" stance. (Dec 2005)
  • Administration is AWOL on the war on drugs. (Mar 2000)
  • We're losing drug war - just say no. (Oct 1999)
  • $1B for detection equipment for more border interdiction. (Mar 1999)
  • Restrict methadone treatment programs. (Feb 1999)
  • Stricter penalties; stricter enforcement. (Jul 1998)
  • Voted YES on spending international development funds on drug control. (Jul 1996)
  • Teaching creationism should be decided by school districts. (Jun 2007)
  • Teach virtues in all schools. (Dec 1999)
  • Charters, homeschooling, & vouchers are key to success. (Dec 2007)
  • Unrestricted block grants--let states decide spending. (Feb 2000)
  • Voted NO on $52M for "21st century community learning centers". (Oct 2005)
  • Voted NO on $5B for grants to local educational agencies. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted NO on funding smaller classes instead of private tutors. (May 2001)
  • Voted NO on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction. (Apr 2001)
  • Voted YES on declaring memorial prayers and religious symbols OK at schools. (May 1999)
  • Voted YES on $75M for abstinence education. (Jul 1996)
  • Voted YES on requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer. (Jul 1994)
  • Voted NO on national education standards. (Feb 1994)
  • Rated 45% by the NEA, indicating a mixed record on public education. (Dec 2003)
  • FactCheck: Oil independence will take 25 years, not 5 years. (Dec 2007)
  • Reinvest oil profits in nuclear power. (Jun 2007)
  • Strength Clean Air & Water Acts; but not Kyoto. (Jan 2000)
  • Voted NO on $3.1B for emergency oil assistance for hurricane-hit areas. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted NO on reducing oil usage by 40% by 2025 (instead of 5%). (Jun 2005)
  • Voted YES on targeting 100,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2010. (Jun 2003)
  • Voted NO on terminating CAFE standards within 15 months. (Mar 2002)
  • Voted YES on defunding renewable and solar energy. (Jun 1999)
  • Voted YES on approving a nuclear waste repository. (Apr 1997)
  • Voted NO on do not require ethanol in gasoline. (Aug 1994)
  • Rated 17% by the CAF, indicating opposition to energy independence. (Dec 2006)
  • Supports immediate reductions in greenhouse gases. (Sep 1998)
  • FactCheck: Criticized $3M "bear DNA" study, but voted for it. (Nov 2007)
  • Economic & environmental interests not mutually exclusive. (Sep 2007)
  • Voted YES on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations. (Sep 2005)
  • Voted NO on continuing desert protection in California. (Oct 1994)
  • Voted YES on requiring EPA risk assessments. (May 1994)
  • End commercial whaling and illegal trade in whale meat. (Jun 2001)
  • Supports grants for brownfields remediation. (May 2002)
  • Rated 53% by the LCV, indicating a mixed record on environment. (Dec 2003)
  • Focus on results, not regulation. (Sep 1998)
  • Unfiltered Internet robs our children of their innocence. (Dec 1999)
  • Media Responsibility Act requires video & music labeling. (Jun 1999)
  • Violence in media caused Littleton shootings. (Apr 1999)
  • Rated 83% by the Christian Coalition: a pro-family voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • No circumstances where president can disregard treaties. (Dec 2007)
  • Maintain Cuban embargo; indict Castro. (Dec 2007)
  • Naive to exclude nukes; naive to exclude attacking Pakistan. (Aug 2007)
  • Overthrow "rogue" governments to keep Americans safe. (Feb 2000)
  • Africa: Money for AIDS would be lost to corruption. (Jan 2000)
  • Concern over Chechnya spreads to Caucasus oil reserves. (Jan 2000)
  • Russia: Sanctions until Putin exits Chechnya. (Jan 2000)
  • IMF's Russia policies bad, but agency is OK. (Oct 1999)
  • Cuba: No diplomatic and trade relations. (Jul 1998)
  • Voted NO on killing a bill for trade sanctions if China sells weapons. (Sep 2000)
  • Voted YES on cap foreign aid at only $12.7 billion. (Oct 1999)
  • Voted YES on limiting the President's power to impose economic sanctions. (Jul 1998)
  • Voted NO on limiting NATO expansion to only Poland, Hungary & Czech. (Apr 1998)
  • Voted YES on $17.9 billion to IMF. (Mar 1998)
  • Voted YES on Strengthening of the trade embargo against Cuba. (Mar 1996)
  • Voted YES on ending Vietnam embargo. (Jan 1994)
  • Consider subsidies a mistake, and oppose them. (Dec 2007)
  • Every time US went protectionist, we paid heavy price. (Oct 2007)
  • Supports ethanol, but by exporting, not by subsidies. (Oct 2007)
  • No environmental provisions in trade agreements. (Nov 2004)
  • Substitute trade treaties for protectionism. (Jan 2000)
  • Admit China to WTO based on their concessions. (Jun 1999)
  • Free trade with any country except security risks. (May 1999)
  • NAFTA has had unambiguously positive impact on US. (Mar 1999)
  • FactCheck: $35B in pork meant $484 per child, not $1000. (Jan 2008)
  • Focus on homeland safety, restoring trust, and fiscal policy. (Dec 2007)
  • Voted NO on granting the District of Columbia a seat in Congress. (Sep 2007) [BOO]
  • Voted YES on requiring photo ID to vote in federal elections. (Jul 2007)
  • Voted YES on allowing some lobbyist gifts to Congress. (Mar 2006)
  • Voted YES on require photo ID (not just signature) for voter registration. (Feb 2002)
  • Voted YES on banning campaign donations from unions & corporations. (Apr 2001)
  • Voted NO on funding for National Endowment for the Arts. (Aug 1999)
  • Voted NO on banning more types of Congressional gifts. (Jul 1995)
  • Prosecute criminals, not citizens for gun ownership. (Sep 2007)
  • Don't hold gun manufacturers liable for crimes. (Sep 2007)
  • Opposes restrictions on assault weapons and ammunition types. (Sep 2007)
  • Voted against Brady Bill & assault weapon ban. (Aug 1999)
  • Repeal existing gun restrictions; penalize criminal use. (Jul 1998)
  • Voted YES on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers. (Jul 2005)
  • Voted YES on banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence. (Mar 2004)
  • Voted NO on background checks at gun shows. (May 1999)
  • Voted YES on more penalties for gun & drug violations. (May 1999)
  • Voted YES on loosening license & background checks at gun shows. (May 1999)
  • Voted YES on maintaining current law: guns sold without trigger locks. (Jul 1998)
  • Preserve quality of health care by individual responsibility. (Dec 2007)
  • Give individuals $2500 refundable tax credits for healthcare. (Oct 2007)
  • Control health costs so manufacturers stay competitive. (Oct 2007)
  • No mandated universal system; no mandated insurance coverage. (Jun 2006)
  • Include a health savings account in healthcare reform. (Jan 2006)
  • The problem with health care in America is inflation. (Jan 2006)
  • Supports tax-free medical savings accounts & tax credits. (Nov 2004)
  • Higher taxes on cigarettes. (Jan 2000)
  • Matching funds for seniors citizens' prescription drugs. (Dec 1999)
  • Expand health insurance to 11 million uninsured children. (Dec 1999)
  • Keep health care promises to aging veterans. (Nov 1999)
  • Allow paying extra for choice of doctors & care. (Jul 1999)
  • Full doctor-patient discussion even when it costs HMO. (Jul 1999)
  • More tax-deductible health costs; limits on malpractice. (Jul 1998)
  • Surveillance of overseas communications is ok. (Dec 2007)
  • Ok to hold even US citizens as enemy combatants. (Dec 2007)
  • I support the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war. (Jan 2006)
  • Accepts gays in military under current policy. (Jan 2000)
  • Military's political leaders need military backgrounds. (Jan 2000)
  • Vietnam was a worthy cause despite losing. (Nov 1999)
  • Discard ABM Treaty and develop a missile defense. (Apr 1999)
  • Use force, with US control, only for vital interests. (Apr 1999)
  • Voted with Republican Party 87.3% of 165 votes. (Sep 2007)
  • Voted YES on confirming Samuel Alito as Supreme Court Justice. (Jan 2006)
  • Voted YES on confirming John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. (Sep 2005)
  • Member of the Republican Main Street Partnership . (Jan 2001)
  • Rated 33% by the AU, a mixed record on church-state separation. (Dec 2006)
  • Strategic bombing of Iran OK only if imminent threat. (Dec 2007)
  • Congress can only declare war; not micromanage wars. (Dec 2007)
  • Keep military option open against Iran, even if no nukes. (Dec 2007)
  • No direct talk with Iran; talk is over-rated. (Dec 2007)
  • Iran & Syria must not get nukes; they'll exterminate Israel. (Nov 2007)
  • Iran is state sponsor of terrorism; no more evidence needed. (Nov 2007)
  • Congressional consultation before attacking Iran's nukes. (Oct 2007)
  • Sanctions to prevent Iranian nukes; but don't count on UN. (Sep 2007)
  • Iran is sponsor of terrorism; US strike if they get nukes. (May 2007)
  • Congress has no authority to cut off funds for Iraqi use. (Jan 2007)
  • Voted NO on redeploying non-essential US troops out of Iraq in 9 months. (Dec 2007)
  • Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Nov 2005)
  • Voted YES on requiring on-budget funding for Iraq, not emergency funding. (Apr 2005)
  • Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Oct 2003)
  • Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. (Oct 2002)
  • Voted NO on allowing all necessary force in Kosovo. (May 1999)
  • Voted YES on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo. (Mar 1999)
  • Voted YES on ending the Bosnian arms embargo. (Jul 1995)
  • Supports $48 billion in new spending for anti-terrorism. (Jan 2002)
  • Conclusions on Iran and North Korea are all classified. (Mar 2005)
  • Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. (Nov 1995)


We've all noticed the thousands of little ways, day after day, that the Bush administration has managed to make our lives worse - less pleasant, less free, less comfortable, less sociable, less healthy, you name it.

Live for those of us who live in the District of Columbia has been a long series of dumb ass ideas after dumb ass ideas foisted upon the people who live here by Senators or Representatives merely passing through for a few years. Trying to make names for themselves, or grab a few headlines back home, those folk have never been shy about enacting policies in the District that meet their personal agendas, regardless of what it does to us.

And when the President does it - it's just one more dumb ass move on his part. But it's our lives and our health he mucks around with. The latest idiotic move? His 2009 budget that includes a provision prohibiting DC from using city funds for any needle exchange programs. The Republican congress stopped us for ages. There are similar programs in 36 US states. When we got a Dem. congress, we finally got those funds freed up. PreventionWorks! is getting money to help get the HIV/AIDS crisis here under control. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the city has a massive AIDS problem, higher rates than in NYC or Phily! Only an idiot married to arcane and idiotic views of life styles (needles=more drugs) can't see the connection between needle exchange programs and lower HIV rates.

January 20, 2008 can NOT come fast enough!

Can You Take it With You?

A number of people have run into problems keeping their laptops and other electronic items from making trips with them. No, they didn't forget them on the plane or back at home. They were confiscated by the US government during the trip. Here are three stories from a recent WaPo story.

Nabila Mango, a therapist and a U.S. citizen who has lived in the country since 1965, had just flown in from Jordan last December when, she said, she was detained at customs and her cellphone was taken from her purse. Her daughter, waiting outside San Francisco International Airport, tried repeatedly to call her during the hour and a half she was questioned. But after her phone was returned, Mango saw that records of her daughter's calls had been erased.

A few months earlier in the same airport, a tech engineer returning from a business trip to London objected when a federal agent asked him to type his password into his laptop computer. "This laptop doesn't belong to me," he remembers protesting. "It belongs to my company." Eventually, he agreed to log on and stood by as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited, said the engineer, a U.S. citizen who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of calling attention to himself.

Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda, said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen, said the agent told her he had "a security concern" with her. "I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight," she said. . . .

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus, two civil liberties groups in San Francisco, plan to file a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policies on border searches, including which rules govern the seizing and copying of the contents of electronic devices. They also want to know the boundaries for asking travelers about their political views, religious practices and other activities potentially protected by the First Amendment. The question of whether border agents have a right to search electronic devices at all without suspicion of a crime is already under review in the federal courts.

The lawsuit was inspired by two dozen cases, 15 of which involved searches of cellphones, laptops, MP3 players and other electronics. Almost all involved travelers of Muslim, Middle Eastern or South Asian background, many of whom, including Mango and the tech engineer, said they are concerned they were singled out because of racial or religious profiling.

Some companies have asked their employees to empty out hard drives before traveling. Kind of defeats the purpose of carrying the equipment with you. But most of us, I'm sure, wonder what on earth the government is doing snooping around in our laptops, checking the sites we surf, the emails we get or send. Where does it end?

"It's one thing to say it's reasonable for government agents to open your luggage," said David D. Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University. "It's another thing to say it's reasonable for them to read your mind and everything you have thought over the last year. What a laptop records is as personal as a diary but much more extensive. It records every Web site you have searched. Every e-mail you have sent. It's as if you're crossing the border with your home in your suitcase."
Annoying as all get out - and yet not at all surprising, is it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Electoral College Map - Reference

Tsunami Tuesday Minus One

The USA Today "poll tracker" has nice graphics (no surprise from McPaper - graphics are their strength). ABC/WaPo polls showing various matchups in the general election can be found here. The latest pits our 4 main candidates against each other. McCain beats Clinton 50-45 and Obama 48-47; Romney loses to Clinton 43-51 and to Obama 36-57. Real Clear Politics does the same thing with a number of other polls here. With the results all over the place. They RCPolitics polls do include Huckabee. (No, he doesn't do well against either Dem). Finally President Polls 2008 has a number of options to choose from here (except DC. apparently nobody ever bothers polling us). ;)

The main thing to remember is - regardless of candidate, get your butt out tomorrow and vote if you are in a Tsunami Tuesday primary.

Democrats Abroad
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Dakota

If you don't know when your primary or caucus vote is being held, you can always check at the Election Guide 2008 page here.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Interpreting campaign '08

As we expected, there is a spate of articles in the papers this weekend that seek to explain the long, strange trip that is Campaign '08. Gail Collins of the New York Times entered the fray first with typical irreverence, skewering the Democrats for their attempts to play nice in last week's civility forum in California and then labeling the Republican nominating contest "GI Joe vs. Gumby." For those off the planet recently, that would be the straight-talking, ramrod-straight standing, commander-in-chiefing John McCain vs. the supremely malleable Mormon Mitt Romney.

Over in the International Herald Tribune, Michael Oreskes contends that the principal dynamic at work is orthodoxy vs. heterodoxy. In this formulation, the backers of Clinton and Romney(or anyone not named John McCain)hold fast to the fundamental principles of their party at this point in time and condemn those who seek support among the other party's voters, signaling their desire for broad agreement on what ails the country. Obama and McCain supporters, by contrast, condemn what they see is the myopia and hyper-partisanship of the "orthodox" HRC and Romney faithful. Read the entire article here.

Finally, in the WAPO, two former Gore advisers assert that we are in the midst of a biblical/generational struggle. In their formulation, the baby boomers, who fought fights and caused upheaval comparable to Moses' bringing the Israelites out of slavery, are pitted against the emerging Millenials, the generation that hearkens back to Joshua and those who helped build the Kingdom of Israel. The argument here is that the Moses/Boomers are incapable of solving post-upheaval problems in the country because they are moral and political absolutists, e.g. "don't trust anyone over 30." The Millenials have put themselves forward as those best suited for millenium politics, as they are like Joshua, pragmatic doers and builders rather than idealists.
Since this is only a skeleton summary, you owe it to yourself to read their piece in its entirety.

In chronological terms, I am a boomer, no doubt about it. But I'd much rather look for solutions, lure people out of their partisan corners, build some bridges, produce some poetry, than continue with prose-bound, partisan, pugnacious, bridge-burning politics as usual. So look for me among the heterodox Millenial Joshuas.

And where will we find you?

Did You Get Yours?

Now that the boom has gone bust, Barbara Ehrenreich's piece in today's WaPo Outlook section notes that "The Boom Was a Bust for Ordinary People." Not that I have to tell any of you that. The only ones who haven't said this out loud are the administration & their cronies, whose reputations are tied to the idea that Bush has given the country years of good economic news. For those who haven't run across Ehrenreich before, she authored the book "Nickeled and Dimed" in which she took a series of low wage jobs to see if any of them could actually support a person on their own. Big surprise, not hardly.

In her op-ed piece she notes that the Economic Policy Institute released a study showing that real wages fell last year. Those jobs that were paid barely survival wages when she wrote her book are now paying even less in real terms.

While the stock market soared and fortunes were being made in the time it takes to say "IPO," my $6-to-$8-an-hour co-workers lunched on hot dog buns because that was all they could afford and,in some cases, fretted about whether they could find a safe place to sleep.
She goes on to note that:

In the months ahead, we can expect the hard times to spread. Citigroup has announced plans to eliminate 21,000 jobs; investment banks in general will shed 40,000. The mortgage industry is in a meltdown; Business Wire predicts a 37 percent increase in the number of companies planning layoffs this year. This is what a stimulus package needs to address: the persistent and growing struggles of the middle class and the working class, which is increasingly conterminous with the working poor.

There are reasons for doing so other than compassion. The chronically poor and the battered middle class have become a tripwire in the American economy -- generating defaults on debts, depressed consumption and global market turmoil.

Consider how we got into the current credit crisis in the first place, through defaults on subprime mortgages. These went to plenty of affluent folks and have wreaked havoc in gated communities. But overall, subprime loans were designed for, and snapped up by, the poor. According to a recent study from United for a Fair Economy, 55 percent of subprime loans went to African Americans and 17 percent to whites. Among whites, they went far more frequently to low-income people than to the wealthy -- 39 percent compared with 24 percent. Hence the subprime industry's noble boasts about providing the opportunity for home ownership to people who might otherwise have been excluded from it.

And yet companies across the US continue to pay their workers as little as they can get away with, not realizing (or not caring?) that workers who have to choose between rent and food or heat don't have a lot of extra money to spend on the products the companies are producing.
Not that we hadn't been warned. A century ago, Henry Ford realized that his company would only prosper if his own workers earned enough to buy Fords. But, like Wal-Mart, too many of our employers today haven't figured out that their cruelly low wages would eventually curtail their own growth and profits.
And the administration & Congress are really reading the wrong tea leaves if they think giving Americans a few hundred bucks in rebates (which will add to our tax bills next year) will send us shopping. What it might do is allow people to stay in their homes a bit longer by letting them pay on the mortgage that is by this point all about interest, not principle.

Nice Guys Recognized

I wouldn't be a DC blogger if I didn't dip into stories about our beloved 'skins from time to time. And today is one of those times. Two of the city's favorite sons were voted into the Football Hall of Fame yesterday. Darrell Green and Art Monk. Both were fabulous players, and both have spent their post-football years with projects aimed at helping people who live in the city.

Darrell Green's Youth Life Foundation helps underprivileged children to improve their learning skills. Monk teamed up with another ex 'skin, Charles Mann to run the Good Samaritan Foundation, which feeds the poor and also helps children with learning. Both guys (as well as Mann and several other ex-skins) continue to make great contributions to the city, and continue to make us proud of them day after day.

Congratulations to both of them!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

How Bad is Bush?

So bad that not even George Bush can convince the Germans to go to war.

ba - boom.

Ok, so behind the bad humor is the reality of what Bush has done to US influence in the world. Germany has refused a US request to send troops to southern Afghanistan. Not even Iraq, but Afghanistan, the country the world wanted us to invade and fix. Germany has over 3000 soldiers in Afghanistan, but they're in the northern provinces, fairly secure areas. NATO (i.e., US) wants more troops in that country, but nobody's stepping up. Even worse, we're spending lots of time trying to talk countries that ARE there into staying.

To Explain a Connection From My Post Below

I mentioned that oil revenues would have been wasted in countries like Chad and Bangladesh for money and food. If you were wondering why Chad, well it was a country on my mind recently. Rebels have broken through to N'Djamena and there's scattered fighting in the capital city. There has been unrest and problems in Chad for decades, but it's gotten much worse since ... yup, lots of oil was found there.

Another nice thing about oil, not only does it bring tons of profits to people who don't need it, but it can also bring trauma, doom, and disaster to the countries exploited by the companies to get to the oil if the nation isn't strong enough to take control of the oil revenues first itself.

Don't Cry For Me, Exxon Mobile

By now you've caught the little news blurb that Exxon Mobil has set a corporate record for annual profit in 2007 at $40.6 billion. What the blurbs didn't mention is that the record Exxon Mobile beat was . . . drum roll please . . . it's own record from 2006, when it posted profits of $39.4 billion.

Two years of record breaking profits. It's a rough life over there in big oil these days, isn't it. Fortunately for those poor guys, it's not a lonely world. The four largest companies operating in the U.S. - Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips managed to bring in $100-million in combined profits last year.

So before you go railing against the oil companies again, think about how hard it is for these poor guys to survive in the global economy with profits that only make them financially larger than most nations on the planet. After all, what would a nation like Chad or Bangladesh do with all that money - probably just waste it on food and medicine for people.

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