Fly AMTRAK Until January 2009 Bush Departure

Today is October 31, 2007 and thus Halloween, a day when millions of American children will rove the neighborhoods of America in search of candy and goodies shout “Boo! Trick or Treat!!” as folks answer the knocks at their doors after sunset by children in colorful costumes, or at least in masks, some looking as scary as “War-man” Bush or “Dead-Eye” Cheney.

But today is also significant because of hearings being held in the United States Congress. Specifically, the US House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee will hold a hearing to try to determine why the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been withholding, for more than a year, the results of a nationwide survey of pilots regarding airline safety problems because of fear that the findings will undermine public confidence and hurt airline profits!!!!

Lets get this perfectly clear: A survey, conducted through an agency of the executive branch of the federal government which is run by the Bush administration, conducted over four years and paid for with tax-payer money, collecting 24,000 interviews with airline and other pilots, indicating serious safety problems in the aviation and air traffic control systems of the Untied States IS BEING WITHHELD FROM THE PUBLIC TO PROTECT AIRLINE PROFITS!!!!

You can listen to the hearing HERE (1:30pm Eastern Daylight time or Atlantic Standard time 10-31-07)

In other words, the American people do not have the right to know the unsafe events that occur in the aviation system of the United States because it just might negatively impact the profits of the big-business airline companies.

The people don’t have the right to know.

WTF.

When one considers that the Bush administration has attempted to suppress information on global warming and even now opposes medical insurance for poor children, one has to just wonder…if you have to travel…do you feel lucky today?

What time does that Amtrak train leave again??

Boo. Are you scared now?

Bush Saber-Rattling Doesn’t Save the World

Anyone paying attention to recent news outlets knows that ‘Tricky-Dick” Cheney has now made statements tantamount to a threat of military action against Iran, if that country acquires a nuclear weapon. The fact of Tricky-Dick making such a declaration should come as no surprise to anyone because the Bush Syndicate has built its entire administration on threats such as those of military action against Osama Bin Laden and Saddam’s Iraq, as well as a record number of threats of vetoes against the Congressional Democrats in the past nine months, and threats against US citizens if they disagree with Bushie “strategy”, a la Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame.

As a result, it is no shock that “Scrub W” Bush is scheduled to make a speech today (Wednesday, October 24, 2007) threatening the government of Cuba with some partially unspecified actions by the United States if the Castro government doesn’t immediately do everything Bush demands that they immediately do. This would be so ho-hum boring if it wasn’t so stupidly short-sighted and transparently political.

With Fidel Castro ill and possibly in the last year of life, executive power on the island of Cuba was transferred to Castro’s brother Raul a year ago. Raul had operated in the shadow of his more powerful brother since before the Cuban revolution of 1959. After taking over the seat of governmental power, Raul fomented relationships with many of the world’s leaders and governments, because he knew that he would permanently lead the government of Cuba.

Make no mistake that the government of Cuba under either Castro brother is a dictatorship, and one that limits personal freedoms and civil rights. Also make no mistake that the government of Cuba has not been able to provide great prosperity to its people. What they have accomplished is universal education and health care of all citizens.

Additionally, Cubans are some of the finest innovators of automobile immortality in the world, since they have been able to keep their 1957 Chevy Belairs on the road for fifty years, without a single “Genuine GM Part”. This is because the United States imposed an economic embargo on Cuba in 1960 in the hopes that it would somehow undermine the then-newly-declared-communist government of Fidel Castro.

Unfortunately for the US, it is crystal clear that the embargo never has worked to derail Castro, but it DID hurt the Cuban and American people, and continues to do so. It also has made smugglers of ordinary American citizens visiting other countries such as Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean nations as they clandestinely bring Cuban cigars (among other embargoed goods) back into the USA for their friends and businesses back home.

But the worst part of all of this is that “Scrub W Bush” will assert that Cuba must immediately release its political prisoners. The sadly laughable part of all of this is that although most will agree that imprisoning people because of their political beliefs is wrong, and holding people indefinitely without access to habeas corpus or legal counsel is wrong, it is this self-same Bush administration that has held hundreds of suspected terrorists as political prisoners without charges, habeas corpus, or access to legal counsel for years at the US Naval Station at Guantanamo, Cuba. If that isn’t the height of arrogance, hypocrisy and stupidity, what is??

Furthermore, one has to note how the credibility of the United States continues to suffer even further by Bush Syndicate statements that “We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,”, or “…the United States will not accept a political transition in Cuba in which power changes from one Castro brother to another, rather than to the Cuban people.”

More than a year late and many dollars short, the Bush Syndicate’s saber-rattling against Cuba serves only two purposes:

1. To try to make the Cuban exiles in America look favorably at the Bushies and maybe vote republican in Florida in the next election in 2008, and

2. To further damage the credibility of the US in the minds of the people of the rest of the planet.

The Bush Syndicate has never been good at viewing lessons from history and learning from them. If they were, they would know that saber-rattling only galvanizes the enemy to resist further.

On the other side of the intelligence spectrum, Israel quietly develops its strategy and silently executes it, as evidenced by its bombing of a nuclear facility in Iraq in the late eighties, and a similar attack in Syria just recently. No saber-rattling. No advanced notice. Just measured action in pursuit of its survival.

The incredibly stupid and totally failed American economic embargo of Cuba, which is now in its 47th year of uselessness, has totally ignored the fact that a major contributor to the downfall of the Soviet Union in the 80’s was the USSR’s importation of American goods and associated culture to the residents in that country. The more people know and the more prosperous they become, the more they want control of their destinies. That is a lesson lost of the “Scrub W Bush” Syndicate.

The only audience that will support the Bush anti-Raul-Castro speech will be the exile Cuban community centered in and around Miami. After all, they were the primary reason that Bush carried Florida by 635 votes in 2000 against Al Gore (remember Elian Gonzalez?) and became the American president (and American burden) for the past 6-plus years. But one would hope that after 47 years of failure, even the respectable Cuban exile community would recognize that facing the Island of Cuba and shaking fists in an emotional act of anger and revenge serves no useful purpose. A new and more effective strategy is required.

That strategy begins with the marginalizing of the Bushie incompetence for fourteen more months and working to make the Cuban people so prosperous and so globally informed that a dictatorship in Cuba cannot possibly survive.

Is Ann Coulter a Rich Fascist, or a Rich Phony?


 

Perhaps the most enlightened and dynamic document in human history is the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

Article one of the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Over the course of American History, the US Supreme Court has defined and interpreted freedom of speech to include all forms of freedom of expression, including but not limited to art, books, cartoons, clothing, movies, signs, symbolism, and so forth. As a result, anyone can write a book about anything, even if they know it is false, as long as they do not commit harmful and provable acts of libel. They can even profit from their lies if they can convince the consuming public to purchase their ravings and rantings.

Many of the public often oblige, by spending massive quantities of money on hocus-pocus diatribes by the author who constantly declares the same warning, that the sky is falling because of (whatever victim the author has selected for this ranting).

Thus, it should come as no surprise to anyone that in this country, some of the biggest yellers and screamers, alarmists, and liars are getting very rich off of the fear and gullibility of ignorant masses who wait with baited breath and hard-earned beer money for the latest revelation of impeding death and destruction from these marketing-expert pundits to appear in supermarket tabloid stands and book stores.

Enter Ann Coulter, the attractive, educated, often romantically engaged but never married mother of all neo-cons.  Ann is a prolific author, as well as a conservative talk show regular guest. She has seemingly mastered the art of selling herself without giving of herself or acknowledging truth. Coulter immediately comes across as a babe to the unfamiliar until she opens her mouth, and then one wonders if she is the great-granddaughter of a nazi death camp guard on estrogen steroids?

Coulter is prone to ultra-conservative rantings about all fashion of political subject, so one expects her to be outrageous in public when she appears on a conservative talk show. But she recently broke through the bottom of the barrel when, pushing her latest literary latrine liner, She said that Jews in America should convert to Christianity to “perfect the religion”.

It is difficult, though certainly not impossible, to believe that Coulter really believes what she is saying.  More likely is that she is simply doing what the fact-starved ultra-conservatives do best: Scream as loud as they can that “The sky is falling, the liberals are causing it, and buy my latest book to find out what YOU can do to save America from becoming sky-less!!!”

But wait!!   The ultra-conservatives hate the fundamentalist Muslims who want everyone to live by fundamentalist Muslim doctrine and dogma.  However, these self-same ultra-conservatives endorse, embrace and support the fundamentalist Christian evangelicals who want everyone to live by fundamentalist Christian doctrine and dogma.  Yet, Coulter has been engaged several time and clearly follows a very RICH life-style which the most fundamentalist Muslims and and the most fundamentalist Christians BOTH would condemn.  Not only that, but according to news sources, Coulter is dating Andrew Stein, a liberal democrat and Jewish lawyer for New York City!

This is soooo confusing.

Or is it merely the typical hypocritical conduct of the rich ultra-cons and neo-cons??

Other RICH ultra-conservative national talk show hosts could have a field day with this fact, don’t you think?  So…why don’t they?

Because they are as hypocritical as Coulter is.  These supposed “leaders” of the “koolaid-intoxicated”, “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” extreme right are laughing all the way to the bank as they push the shopping cart full of money up to the ATM in-slot.  These folks have got to be admired for what they do: they are living the American dream, which says that anyone in this country can get rich off the stupidly gullible.

So to Ann Coulter and all the others out there doing so, they are owed congratulations as they use the rights granted them in the US Constitution to market themselves.

But, do they have to continuously trample all over that self-same Constitution by congratulating the Bush Syndicate’s constitutional violations in order to profit?

Torturing America

Any student of recent American and World history knows that after the atrocities of World War Two became commonly known, there was a great out cry on the part of everyday Americans and others to eliminate torture and human rights violations from the face of the earth. Those growing up in the post-war era will remember being very proud to be citizens of the country that consistently and proactively demanded that other countries cease violating human rights: The United States of America.

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 culminated in declarations, proudly signed by the United States and other nations, providing for humanitarian treatment of detainees. In particular, Geneva Convention Common Article III provides for prohibition of treatment including “Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;” and “Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment”.

YourDictionary.com defines torture as the inflicting of severe pain to force information or confession, get revenge, etc; any method by which such pain is inflicted; any severe physical or mental pain; agony; anguish; a cause of such pain or agony; Rare, a violent twisting, distortion, perversion, etc.

So, if one is repeatedly slapped in the head by an interrogator, or forced to endure ‘waterboarding”, where the subject is restrained inverted on a board, face covered with a towel while water is endlessly poured on the towel to prevent breathing air similar to drowning, or forced to endure extremes in temperatures, such as being restrained in a freezer without proper clothing, where the temperature is dropped below 0 degrees F/-18 degrees C, or even a combination of these treatments…is that torture? Is the subject’s dignity outraged, is he humiliated as he screams for mercy?

And, of course, these are only the procedures we know about. It is certainly reasonable to believe that we do not know them all.

Last week the New York Times revealed that the US Justice Department had approved, in secret memos kept from the American people, Congress and the rest of the world, the above-outlined treatments of slapping, waterboarding, and freezing as acceptable treatment of detainees. Despite the pasting the US had endured over the Abu Graib torturing and humiliating of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, the American Justice Department, under the direction of the now-gone US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, had, in 2005, endorsed a complete departure from the decades of American criticism of others who would employ such heinous treatment of humans.

What did it say about the new America? What damage was being caused to our already tarnished image in the rest of the world? How could the US now criticize any country that tortured American captives if we, ourselves, were employing such practices?

Or…could it be that the Justice-Department-Run-Amok was stopped in its tracks by the commander-in-chief of the executive branch of the US Government, George W. Bush?

Well, inquisitive minds sought to find out. The answer from none other than George W. Bush himself can only be classified as bizarre…and painfully disappointing.

On October 6, 2007, in response to questions from the press, Bush never denied that the US is employing these awful practices. Instead, he defended then, claiming that they are not torture. You can read about it HERE.

The fact that Bush would arrogantly attempt to single-handedly change the definition of torture to suit his personal needs is laughable when one considers how poorly he speaks the American language. But worse is the fact that he thinks everyone else in the world is stupid.

No reasonably educated person would contest the spirit and the letter of the Geneva Conventions, but the Bush Syndicate would have the rest of the world, including proud Americans, redefine torture the way the Gonzales Justice Department did…as equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” And for “mental torture, the Justice Department argued, the psychological harm must last “months or even years.

On October 7, 2007, the New York Times printed an editorial that really sums up the disgrace of this Bush Syndicate debacle. You are urged to read it HERE.

For many, many Americans, the shame of what this president and his stooges have done to the prestige of being an American begs the question:

Who has been tortured more in the past six years?

Commander-In-Chief of the Peter Principle

According to Wikipedia, the “Peter Principle” states that in a hierarchal organization, such as a company, agency, or government, people tend to rise to their level of incompetence.

Many of us have quoted this principle in our professional lives to explain how someone totally undeserving has risen in the ranks to a high level of authority. We all know, for instance, someone who became a supervisor or manager within a company or agency where we worked, based upon questionable qualifications at best, and then proceeded to dismantle a previously installed good working system within the organization that promoted him or her.

Of course, the higher a position of authority and power the incompetent rises to, the more damage the incompetent can and inevitably will do. And nowhere is this more evident that the within the present executive branch of the government of the United States.

Consider the following facts: The executive branch includes and encompasses the president, vice-president, cabinet, all of the government agencies, and the military. Those agencies, which include CIA, FBI, Departments of State, Defense, Transportation, Homeland Security, Justice, Health and Human Services, FDA, EPA, Treasury, just to name a few, are all headed by folks whom are politically appointed by the president.

We have all witnessed (and cringed at) the incompetence of Bush-appointee Michael Brown as Director of FEMA after Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans.

We have all witnessed (and cringed at) the incompetence of the various agencies, including Homeland Security, to ascertain the location of Osama Bin Laden, the tallest Arab in the world, traveling with a dialysis machine strapped to his back….on foot.

We have all witnessed (and cringed at) the debacle of Bush-appointee US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez at the Justice Department

We have all witnessed (and cringed) as one by one, the nations of the world turned their backs on our policies, while the State Department repeatedly demonstrated an total inability to negotiate any agreement of substance with anyone, anywhere, over anything.

And then there’s a government agency whose sole reason for existence is insuring that the entirety of the aviation industry in the US is safe, orderly, expeditious, healthy, and economically viable. That is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an federal agency under the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The FAA, as much as any other agency and perhaps even more so, has now demonstrated the utter damage that can be done when “deciders” rise to the ultimate level of their incompetence, and then assign other incompetents to positions of authority, making incompetent practices the order of the day.

On January 20, 2001, when the Bush administration came into office, there were 15,505 air traffic controllers in the FAA, working 24/7/365 to ensure that each commercial flight in the US and surrounding oceanic airspace was kept safe from collision with other airplanes, as well as from terrestrial features such as mountains and other obstacles. The FAA administrator at the time, Jane Garvey, understood that employees were the linchpin of any organization, and treated the controllers, whom hold the lives of perhaps a million people in their hands every day, with respect.

In 2002, when Garvey’s five-year term was up, Bush appointed Marion Blakey as FAA administrator and the horror show began. Marion’s marching orders were simple: Run the FAA like a profit-oriented business (as opposed to the safety-oriented non-profit agency it was), and make sure that the bottom line ($$) is the primary concern. In the course of doing that, render the air traffic control workforce totally subservient to that almighty dollar profit. After all, the money saved at the expense of safety is needed for Iraq.

Blakey’s five-year term was up last month (thank goodness) after decimating the air traffic system. She imposed working conditions so heinous that almost every veteran controller reaching retirement age now leaves immediately, as opposed to staying on for perhaps six or more additional years, as was the case under Administrator Garvey. Blakey reduced salaries for new hires by thirty percent, which resulted in salaries so low that qualified young folks either don’t accept job offers from the FAA, or, having given it a shot, resign within the first year for better-paying jobs and better treatment from their employers. Those remaining controllers trapped in the system endure draconian, jailhouse-like work rules and pay reduction imposed by Marion and her thugs at the direction of the Bush Syndicate.

The net result is that the controller workforce has been reduced by ten percent while the volume of air traffic has increased back above pre-911 levels. This means fewer controllers to work more airplanes, with less absolutely-necessary mind-resting breaks. How safe do you feel knowing that a fatigued controller who can no long think straight because of an excessively long, exhausting session at the radar scope is working the jet you’re flying in?

Furthermore, the FAA, in another burst of utter incompetence, has adopted an insane policy of “fix upon failure, eliminating the previously successful planned periodic maintenance of the electronic equipment that provides the tools for controllers and pilots to do their jobs! So, knowing that, if you are on a jet in bad weather near mountains and all the radar and/or radios on the ground fail as they did last week in the thousands of square miles of airspace controlled by the Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center, how safe do you feel as the lightening is flashing and crackling all around you?

The immediate visible result of this FAA mismanaged, Bush-directed incompetence is the record flight delays that America has experienced this summer. The delays aren’t over yet, either. Last week during Congressional hearings called by the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Aviation to find the truth behind these monstrous delays, Rep. Mike Capuano (D) Massachusetts, had a very heated exchange with Acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell which I urge you to listen to at this link.

Rep. Capuano demanded explanations and relief. That demand has evidently fallen on deaf ears, because the decimation of what had been the safest air traffic system in the world isn’t showing any signs of stopping. And remember, FAA is under DOT, which is directly under the White House and the president.

But then, why should we have expected anything different? After all, as President Ronald Reagan has been (falsely) purported to have written in his now-published diaries on May 17, 1986:

“A moment I’ve been dreading: George [Bush Sr.] brought his ne’er-do -well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I’ll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they’ll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.”

Reagan didn’t actually write this in his diary. But he could have. The Peter Principle at work. Great, huh?