Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Afghan Christian Miscalculation

The Bush Administration “came out swinging” with angst over the trial of an Afghan who converted from Islam to Christianity, and the conversion was the crime. Now the Afghan court that was to try this man has decided to release the “prisoner” stating he was “unfit to stand trial.” I must admit, of course, I am pleased the man was released. Trying a man for changing faiths is just silly in my opinion, but at the same time is a reminder of the dangerous game we are playing in the Middle East and Islamic faith based countries.

I’m not quite sure I understand why this upset and surprised the Bush Administration. What did they expect? We “freed” Afghanistan, and Afghanistan, in the spirit of “freedom is on the march” has created and ratified a constitutional democracy. However, at the heart of their constitution, the Afghans chose to include Islamic Law as the basis for their democratic constitution…which really makes the country more of a religious democracy than a “true democracy.” So, the United States allowed this to happen, it was our choice to allow them the freedom through liberation, and now the United States must live with its creation. That means that an Afghan can be tried for converting to Christianity (or any other non-Islamic religion), and can be sentenced to death for doing so, based on Islamic Law, which is the basis of their constitution, and was ratified by a majority democratic vote.

“Freedom on the march” doesn’t mean American “values.” The Bush Administration seems to think so, however, while allowing Islamic states to rise in the aftermath of our country’s interference in those nations. Don’t get me wrong, the Taliban did need to go, and Afghanistan was one of the “real” threats regarding the harboring and support of terrorism (just like the United Arab Emirites and Saudi Arabia with whom we’ve chosen to get into bed with instead of confront). However, by ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban and allowing the democratic vote, Afghanistan installed essentially what Osama bin Laden desired all along: an Islamic state. The same is happening in Iraq now, where we’ve furthered the goals of bin Laden and his supporters more than we did in Afghanistan, and once again, we’ll have to live with the consequences. The consequences will be far more severe in Iraq, because they were a secular nation before the U.S. and Britain invaded and toppled the regime. No, it was not the prettiest dictatorship in the world, but it also was not a clear and present danger to the U.S., or anyone else for that matter (with the exception of their own people). But now…now we have given bin Laden what he wanted…an Islamic state that will descend into Civil War and spread the conflict throughout the region.

And with this all happening…the miscalculations of the Bush Administration will shine brighter than the lamp of liberty they believe they’re “installing” around the world (probably with a no-bid contract). Now America is awakening to the disaster that is our foreign policy. No level-headed person can actually believe that what we are doing is right and good for the Middle East, not if they’ve been given the tools of truth. The tools of truth exist, just turn off Fox News, use BBC news, Media Matters, FactCheck.org, and other outlets that aren’t so corporately slaved. And eventually, you’ll find the truth as well. And yes, it may hurt, but only for a little while, because it will foment into pure anger, then action, to gain our nation back through the tools of democracy. Vote for your best interests, not against them, or someday you too might be tried for something that sounds utterly silly and tin-foil-hat-nut-job-ish now.

Tag: Afghanistan War Islam Politics Bush Administration Law Constitution Freedom Democracy

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Don't Let Censure Die

Current Sponsors and Co-Sponsors of the Censure Bush Resolution:
Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) 202-224-5323
Tom Harkin (D-IA) 202-224-3254
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) 202-224-3553

The following Democrats are still "cowering" regarding the Censure. An "*" next to their names indicates that they were supportive of the Censure of President Bill Clinton. Among them is one of my Senators, Mr. Kohl (D-WI), who is attempting to get re-elected this November to the Senate. I currently support Sen. Kohl, however, it is very important to me that he "gets on board" with the Censure Resolution. His issues are important ones (Medicare Rx Benefits for one), but without supporting Censure, he may face a backlash amongst Democrats and Independents in the Madison and Milwaukee areas, and he must carry both areas if he expects to win re-election.

Mark Pryor (D-AR) 202-224-2353
*Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D-AR) 202-224-4843
*Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 202-224-3841
Ken Salazar (D-CO) 202-224-5852
Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) 202-224-2823
Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) 202-224-2441
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) 202-224-5042
Bill Nelson (D-FL) 202-224-5274
*Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) 202-224-6361
*Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) 202-224-3934
Barack Obama (D-IL) 202-224-2854
*Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) 202-224-2152
*Mary Landrieu (D-LA) 202-224-5824
*John F. Kerry (D-MA) 202-224-2742
*Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) 202-224-4543
*Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) 202-224-4654
Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD) 202-224-4524
Debbie A. Stabenow (D-MI) 202-224-4822
*Carl Levin (D-MI) 202-224-6221
Mark Dayton (D-MN) 202-224-3244
*Max Baucus (D-MT) 202-224-2651
*Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) 202-224-2551
Kent Conrad (D-ND) 202-224-2043
Ben Nelson (D-NE) 202-224-6551
Robert Menendez (D-NJ) 202-224-4744
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) 202-224-3224
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) 202-224-5521
*Harry Reid (D-NV) 202-224-3542
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) 202-224-4451
*Charles Schumer (D-NY) 202-224-6542
*Ron Wyden (D-OR) 202-224-5244
*Jack Reed (D-RI) 202-224-4642
Tim Johnson (D-SD) 202-224-5842
*James M. Jeffords (I-VT) 202-224-5141
Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) 202-224-4242
Maria Cantwell (D-WA) 202-224-3441
*Patty Murray (D-WA) 202-224-2621
*Herb Kohl (D-WI) 202-224-5653
*John D. Rockefeller, IV (D-WV) 202-224-6472
Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) 202-224-3954

And now for the "Bush-Rear Kisser" Democrats. The "D" behind their name is just a fallacy, they really should consider running as Republicants.

*Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) 202-224-4041
Evan Bayh (D-IN) 202-224-5623

Censure is the first step in forcing this administration to deal with its continual denial of reality. I really honestly think that the Bush Administration is blind to what is really happening in the world, in a dangerous state of denial and their lack of understanding. They are incompetent. For the "Post 9/11 World" as described by Bush and Cheney almost daily now, what I really can't understand: Bush has borrowed more $ from foreign governments (including the UAE which has harbored terrorists and Saudi Arabia from which nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers originated) then the last 42 presidents combined.

This is unacceptable. Our nation and freedom is being sold from right under our noses. Please call your Senator today and demand action. Hey, they've only had to work 97 days in a year, so they've got some explaining to do.

List of supporters courtesy of Democrats.com.

Tagging: Censure Bush Feingold Senate Democrats Politics War Iraq Wiretapping

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Problems With the Home Health Care Industry In Wisconsin

Problems With the Home Health Care Industry In Wisconsin:

Breaking Story:

I have recently learned through a confidential source that a particular company that operates in the State of Wisconsin with headquarters in Monona, WI (just a couple of miles from where I live) may be breaking the law (state licensing agreements) and is putting developmentally disabled clients and their caregivers at risk for injuries and even death by not properly staffing a now “over filled” (because of the lack of staffing) state of Wisconsin licensed home located in Wood County, Wisconsin.

Most information I am withholding at this time…to ensure that I do not violate any confidentiality agreements or put anyone at risk of losing their employment with this company. This company has opened itself wide for a class-action lawsuit to be filed by employees, and The Truth is Out There is going to spend a little bit of time focusing on this local issue with national implications (because this doesn’t just happen here in Wisconsin).

The mentality of most people is “out of sight, out of mind”, but the developmentally disabled are never out of site, and should never be out of mind. They may be washing the dishes or helping prep food at your favorite restaurant. They may have made the pair of scissors you have on your desk or in your utility drawer. They help sort papers at your insurance company, helping you have an easier relationship with the services that you need and desire as a citizen of this country. Our treatment of the developmentally disabled has become reprehensible, and this is an issue close to my heart. I have family members working in this industry, and I myself spent just over 5 years working as a live-in for the developmentally disabled in various homes in the Madison area from 1995-2000.

They are some of the same issues that affect our elderly neighbors in nursing home facilities which have received so much attention in the past in the media. However, these issues are now virtually ignored…but I will say this…I am not going to ignore these issues, and I am going to expose these people who profiteer on the backs of the weakest, but some of the greatest, citizens of our country. This is not Nazi Germany. This is America, where freedom is supposed to be for everyone. And it is time for America to wake up to this issue, to learn about it, and to tell your representatives (local, state, and federal) that “enough is enough”. Because someday, one of your family members may be an employee or a resident in such a facility, and I’m sure you would want the highest level of care for them. So why wait until it affects you personally? By then, it just may be too late.

I welcome comments and stories about these types of facilities. Your views are important to the development of this campaign to shed the Light of Truth on these forgotten neighbors.


Update 1: Wednesday, March 15th, 2006 (The Ides of March!): I spoke with "my source" last evening, and it appears that the client that was at risk of losing his life or sustaining more serious injury is going to be placed in a nursing home "temporarily". The guardian of this individual apparently lied to the company about the individual's health conditions. However, this is a cop-out by the company. I know from my experience that you never rely solely on what the guardian says, you investigate medical records, documentation that should have been on-going from wherever the individual is coming from (facility, group home, etc.). The company simply did not do its job in respect to properly matching up this potential client with a home. They only were concerned with the amount of money Wood County and the State of Wisconsin was going to pour in each month to the company for that individual.

I truly hope that the best interests of this client and the people he is (was) living with are kept in mine. And just to be clear, it is my understanding that concerns regarding this individual have been properly reported by employees (since all employees are considered "mandatory reporters" under State Statutes). So I am not working on this story without ensuring that the proper steps to protect life and property have been taken. There's no "real" steps I can take except to shine the light of truth on this and other situations like it, and grab the attention of our lawmakers, currently so busy with the Caucus/Campaign Scandal in the Wisconsin Legislature and their own re-elections to the House of Representatives this fall. These are the types of issues that could destroy a campaign. Not a threat, a promise. Who will step up to the plate?

-->End of Update 1. Drop on by for further updates. This is not just a Wisconsin issue.

Tag: Wisconsin Healthcare Health Disabilities Disabled Truth

Monday, March 13, 2006

Censure Bush and What We Want

Bush is starting a “PR Offensive” on Iraq, urging ‘patience’ to complete the mission. Does anyone else find it odd that the president of the United States of America actually needs to go on a Public Relations tour to raise support for a war we’re currently engaged in? The last president to try to do that, Richard M. Nixon, eventually realized (after he reportedly snuck out of the White House to watch and speak with demonstrators protesting the war in Vietnam) that the support in America was gone for what we were doing in Vietnam was virtually non-existent. At least Nixon realized that it was time to go, and followed through and completed what he promised. This was a president that had to resign from office, facing certain impeachment and removal from office. Bush, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to get it, figures he is “right” and that “God” is on his side, and therefore, as Commander In Chief, we as Americans must all be “patient” and support his war.

I believe that those who still support the actions in Iraq are misinformed and simply ignorant. Today I learned that only 11% of Americans actually read a newspaper. Well, I’ll be honest, I am one of the 89% of Americans who do not read a newspaper, but I spend time reading news on the Internet every single day, virtually ignoring the “mainstream media” because of their apparent inability to take the president to task on anything he does.

Today, (who happens to be my Senator) D-WI, introduced a motion to Censure the President for the illegal wiretapping of American citizens. This goes virtually unmentioned on the websites of the Mainstream Media, with MSNBC having it as a bottom tag on their front page (I did just notice, however, that it seems to be “moving up” on their list of “In The News”. I support the resolution to Censure Bush. It is an important first step, and every single Democrat should be on board for this. There are even several Republicans in the Senate that I believe should support a move to censure the President. Of course, (D-CT) might as well start putting a “R” behind his name, because he’s more conservative than some Republican senators currently in office.

Now, as I mentioned in a previous post, I believe it is very important to focus on what we do want…focusing on the don’t wants, and all that is wrong, is what brings us more than the same. I believe that the move to censure Bush, and the steadily growing support to at least begin an investigation into possible Impeachment in the House of Representatives, is all a result of more people beginning to focus on what they want: Freedom. Soldiers coming home alive and unharmed. An economy that is truly growing and creating jobs here instead of India or China. A tax cut that would benefit all Americans, and a tax cut that most of us can get through our brains that is not possible during a time of war. Tax cuts should NOT be made permanent in a time of war, but that is a whole other entry.

Since I’ve begun focusing on what it I want and how I feel, it seems that circumstances have begun to shift. Within hours of making that decision, new poll numbers came out showing President Bush at an all-time low approval rating, lower than that of any other president at this point during their second term with the exception of Richard Nixon. Even with Clinton facing impeachment, he had a higher job approval rating than Bush. Then I learn of resolution to start a select committee on determining whether or not impeachment is the course of action the nation should take. Then Sen. Feingold introduces his motion to censure. Frist continues to show himself as the pat boy for the Bush administration that he really is (because he knows only they can protect him from the ongoing SEC investigation). It is all becoming so obvious that I now find it amusing (although somewhat disappointed in the intelligence of our citizenry) that people still support this president and all that he stands for. Let them believe what they believe…

I’m jumping all over on this entry, but it is meant to trigger a conversation. It is meant to serve as a reminder to me as to what it is I desire to focus on, and what I will be looking at for future posts. There’s so many things I could make entries on, I could skip a few days of work and still not post everything I want to.

Oh—and one more thing before I sign off for the day—coming soon: the redesign of The Truth Is Out There. A complete revamping, including a “Sponsors” section featured at the top of the page that will give some of you a great opportunity to get your blog, product, or project out in front of the masses. I’m also open to comments on how to improve the structure and layout of this blog. The future is bright, and the darkness of the last 2 years of Bush’s “reign” is about to lift. Somehow I get the feeling we’re not going to have to wait until 2009 to have a new president…

Bush Lies Truth Impeach Cehsure Congress Senate Feingold Frist Lieberman Politics Democracy Polls

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Impeachment of George W. Bush

According to a Zogby poll conducted during the week of January 9-12, 2006, 52% of Americans currently support the impeachment of the president of the United States. 43% oppose the impeachment, with an impeachment margin of +9%. The original poll taken in June of 2005 showed 42% supported impeachment, so the “in favor” margin has grown by 10% while the “not in favor” margin has dropped by 7% and the net change for impeachment margin is +17%. The wording on the poll is as follows:
If it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war in Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment.
We know that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war in Iraq. Saddam Hussein was not a Clear And Present Danger to the United States of America or any of its allies (Israel could easily defend itself against any acts of possible aggression by the Hussein regime, as they proved with their daring strike on his nuclear facility on June 7th, 1981). Which, by the way, Iraq never, in the 22 years between the strike and the U.S. led invasion, was able to reconstitute.

Then we move to the point that Saddam had nothing (remember, absolutely nothing) to do with the 9/11 attack on the United States. Saddam and Osama bin Laden would be considered “enemies” by most, and logically so. Hussein was a secular leader in a Muslim nation, and bin Laden wanted nothing less than sectarian Muslim regimes in all Middle Eastern nations. Cheney was a near expert at insinuating that Saddam had something to do with the attacks, and the administration has done so well with the lie, that nearly 50% of our troops fighting in Iraq today believe that to be the truth. Wouldn’t you think that part of “supporting our troops” would be not to lie to them about their mission and the reasons for it?

Weapons of Mass Destruction!! “We don’t want the ‘smoking gun’ to be a mushroom cloud…” –Condoleezza Rice. Instead of questioning Dr. Rice on her misleading statements leading up to the invasion of Iraq, CNN instead does a three-part story on her fitness regimen. Now that’s hard hitting news.

It is way past time to take this administration to task for its behavior by introducing Articles of Impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. John Conyers has taken up the task in preparing H. Res. 635 (Select Committee on Impeachment). There are currently 29 co-sponsors of the Resolution. (You can see the current list here)

If your Representative is not on this list, contact them to urge them to co-sponsor this item. All 202 Democrats should be on board. Any that are not, should receive their walking papers in November of this year. Time to step up to the plate, or sit with the collective thumb up the ass while this administrations continues to go against what is in the best interest of the American people. America is waking up. We know what we want, and Bush is not it.

Impeach Impeachment Bush Cheney Rice Politics Polls Polling Censure Conyers Baldwin Law Iraq War Lies Truth

Thursday, March 09, 2006

America is Awakening

The incompetence of the government is not what we want. But yet it is exactly what we continue to focus on. And then we begin to wonder why it is that we receive more of the same (incompetent government). Well, the reason is quite obvious when you really take the time to think about it just for a few minutes. The reason is—What we focus on the most is what shows up, grows, and expands in our life. This means that by focusing on all that is “wrong” with the current Administration, I’m seeing more of the same (wrong). And that is my responsibility, nobody else’s.

I’ve been contributing to the continuation of all that is wrong by my entries in this blog. Do we really need yet another blog to sit and bitch about this and that, over and over, thinking that what is being written is actually going to make a difference? Of course, that is a rhetorical question. We do not need more “bitch blogs”. What we need is the truth. What we need is to understand. What we need is to focus on what we want, and our actions will automatically follow in an appropriate fashion. So, from now on, I’m going to attempt to have all my entries focus on what I want, and what I feel is “just right.” Readers get a different sense of the situation, maybe even reading more and contributing to the ensuing conversation instead of getting angry or upset at the government (or at me if they support the current administration). No minds are changed that way. Not one. At least not changed in the way that contributes to the well being of our society, but would only contribute to the discourse of our society and strengthen that divide that we have all allowed this administration to do so well because of where our focus has been.

I am awakening. Americans are awakening. Awakening to a new sense that we can change the world in this flawed but well-planned republic in which we live. And peoples of other nations and cultures and backgrounds will find the encouragement to focus on what they want, and make the positive changes they desire in their own countries and communities. I mean, really, how well does the arguing and screaming and bitching contribute to another’s desire for democracy in their own country which is still under some sort of totalitarian rule? I think, another rhetorical question that was…

So let’s work on that change together. What do you want to see happen in your community, your country, your state? Taking out all the negativity and the don’t want…simply stating what you want… Share, and together we can strengthen, not weaken, this Republic and this planet. I look forward to your input. Negativity is a don’t want. So I will not see any of that. Your positive input is so greatly appreciated in advance.

I hope you have the day that you woke up and wanted to have!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Video Shows Bush Was Warned Before Katrina

All I can say is, yes, my critisism was founded.

Video Shows Bush Was Warned Before Katrina

WASHINGTON (AP)—In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

The footage—along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press—show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

Linked by secure video, Bush's confidence on Aug. 28 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and then-Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.

"I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.

Some of the footage and transcripts from briefings Aug. 25-31 conflicts with the defenses that federal, state and local officials have made in trying to deflect blame and minimize the political fallout from the failed Katrina response:

—Homeland Security officials have said the "fog of war" blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster. But the video and transcripts show federal and local officials discussed threats clearly, reviewed long-made plans and understood Katrina would wreak devastation of historic proportions. "I'm sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done," National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield warned the day Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast.

"I don't buy the `fog of war' defense," Brown told the AP in an interview Wednesday. "It was a fog of bureaucracy."

—Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility—and Bush was worried too.

White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Brown discussed fears of a levee breach the day the storm hit.

"I talked to the president twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One," Brown said. "He's obviously watching the television a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he's asking questions about reports of breaches."

—Louisiana officials angrily blamed the federal government for not being prepared but the transcripts shows they were still praising FEMA as the storm roared toward the Gulf Coast and even two days afterward. "I think a lot of the planning FEMA has done with us the past year has really paid off," Col. Jeff Smith, Louisiana's emergency preparedness deputy director, said during the Aug. 28 briefing.

It wasn't long before Smith and other state officials sounded overwhelmed.

"We appreciate everything that you all are doing for us, and all I would ask is that you realize that what's going on and the sense of urgency needs to be ratcheted up," Smith said Aug. 30.

Mississippi begged for more attention in that same briefing.

"We know that there are tens or hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana that need to be rescued, but we would just ask you, we desperately need to get our share of assets because we'll have people dying—not because of water coming up, but because we can't get them medical treatment in our affected counties," said a Mississippi state official whose name was not mentioned on the tape.

Video footage of the Aug. 28 briefing, the final one before Katrina struck, showed an intense Brown voicing concerns from the government's disaster operation center and imploring colleagues to do whatever was necessary to help victims.

"We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Brown warned. He called the storm "a bad one, a big one" and implored federal agencies to cut through red tape to help people, bending rules if necessary.

"Go ahead and do it," Brown said. "I'll figure out some way to justify it. ... Just let them yell at me."

Bush appeared from a narrow, windowless room at his vacation ranch in Texas, with his elbows on a table. Hagin was sitting alongside him. Neither asked questions in the Aug. 28 briefing.

"I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm," the president said.

A relaxed Chertoff, sporting a polo shirt, weighed in from Washington at Homeland Security's operations center. He would later fly to Atlanta, outside of Katrina's reach, for a bird flu event.

One snippet captures a missed opportunity on Aug. 28 for the government to have dispatched active-duty military troops to the region to augment the National Guard.

Chertoff: "Are there any DOD assets that might be available? Have we reached out to them?"

Brown: "We have DOD assets over here at EOC (emergency operations center). They are fully engaged. And we are having those discussions with them now."

Chertoff: "Good job."

In fact, active duty troops weren't dispatched until days after the storm. And many states' National Guards had yet to be deployed to the region despite offers of assistance, and it took days before the Pentagon deployed active-duty personnel to help overwhelmed Guardsmen.

The National Hurricane Center's Mayfield told the final briefing before Katrina struck that storm models predicted minimal flooding inside New Orleans during the hurricane but he expressed concerns that counterclockwise winds and storm surges afterward could cause the levees at Lake Pontchartrain to be overrun.

"I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a very, very grave concern," Mayfield told the briefing.

Other officials expressed concerns about the large number of New Orleans residents who had not evacuated.

"They're not taking patients out of hospitals, taking prisoners out of prisons and they're leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans. So I'm very concerned about that," Brown said.

Despite the concerns, it ultimately took days for search and rescue teams to reach some hospitals and nursing homes.

Brown also told colleagues one of his top concerns was whether evacuees who went to the New Orleans Superdome—which became a symbol of the failed Katrina response—would be safe and have adequate medical care.

"The Superdome is about 12 feet below sea level.... I don't know whether the roof is designed to stand, withstand a Category Five hurricane," he said.

Brown also wanted to know whether there were enough federal medical teams in place to treat evacuees and the dead in the Superdome.

"Not to be (missing) kind of gross here," Brown interjected, "but I'm concerned" about the medical and mortuary resources "and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Dubai Deal: American Security at Risk

Some call it an overreaction that people think that the Dubai Ports World deal taking over control of ports in the United States "dangerous". I do not think it is an overreaction in any sense of the word, neither is it an issue of discrimination against the Muslim world. To think that is simplification of the issue by people with simple minds, wanting only to line their pockets and continue their blind faith in the fearless leadership of George W. Bush.

But let’s have a reality check, shall we?

Security Risks:
The Coast Guard and Homeland Security claim that “100%” of containers entering the United States are screened. Well, I guess that is true based on your definition of screened. There definition of screened is scrutinizing the manifests and documentation of all incoming ships (which must be submitted before they leave the port they are originating from). However, ACTUAL screening, hands on like at all of our airports, is more like 1% of all containers entering the United States.

Now we would be allowing a company owned by a non-democratic state to operate these port terminals. There’s the point: The company is STATE-OWNED. This means that the government, which has been in many ways extraordinarily uncooperative in the so-called “War on Terror”, will be, essentially, in control of these ports.

The United Arab Emirates was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban regime as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. The UAE prevented an assault (according to testimony given in Congress by both Richard Clarke and former CIA chief George Tenant) on Osama Bin Laden when we knew where he was, because “we’d have taken out half the royal family (of the UAE)” in the strike. That’s right; half the royal family of the UAE was at a hunting camp in Afghanistan with Osama that day.

Dubai Ports World, in the deal worked out, were allowed to get through without some of the standard restrictions placed on most other foreign countries. They will also be privy to Homeland Security Department briefings on Port Security in the United States. Yes, they will have more security clearance than you or I. They will be able to choose whether or not former involvement in a terrorist organization will prevent someone from being hired. They will decide whether or not to even begin or complete security clearance checks on all employees. They will not have to keep business records on US soil as most foreign businesses doing business within the US are required to do. This prevents those records from being subpoenaed by US courts.

Dubai Ports World also appears that their desire is to control the ports after they have control of the reporters. Their threat to CNN yesterday (refusing interviews, refusing filming of operations in UAE or Hong Kong, if they would be aired on Lou Dobb’s show) just goes to show that their used to state-owned media, and desire the same thing here.

Don’t you think there’s enough of a security risk already? Don’t you think that we should be mindful of the fact that the Coast Guard was unable to make a determination on whether or not Dubai Ports World would be a safe company to do business with? Don’t you think we should be mindful of the fact that it appears that the only people benefiting from this deal in the United States are the Bush Administration, George Bush Sr., Neil Bush, Jeb Bush, and the Carlyle Group?

Is America going to wake up? Or is America going to wake up when it’s too late, and a dirty bomb goes off in Baltimore, in the White House’s backyard, because port security had so severely been eroded? Remember, as citizens in a democracy, we are ultimately responsible for the actions of our government. Including torture, violating the Geneva Conventions, and our total disregard for human rights in the “war on terror”. I do not want the torture of human beings being my responsibility. That is why I say strongly: Not in my name. Not in my country’s name.

Mr. Bush: Ditch the Port Deal. Or Resign.
I, personally, would prefer the latter.