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Archive for January 30th, 2008

It’s Time For Progressive Bloggers To Choose A Candidate

by Bob Cesca @ 9:38 PM EST

Last night’s non-victory victory rally in Florida underscored everything that’s awful and ridiculous about the Clinton-Clinton ’08 style. They pledged not to campaign in Florida, yet they campaigned there anyway. The primary was unofficial and no delegates were counted, yet they celebrated with a televised victory rally anyway — ostensibly to trick some casual viewers and supporters into thinking it was a meaningful win.

Imagine, if you will, the Patriots showing up at U of P Stadium tonight and declaring victory even though they’ve agreed — “pledged” if you will — to play against the Giants on Sunday. It’s an easy way to declare victory, albeit equally as cheap, dishonest and artificial.

And to observe Senator Clinton’s pledge to seat the Florida delegates while, at that very moment, violating a previous pledge, was to observe a Clintonian paradox in its pristine, natural habitat.

Until today, John Edwards absolutely succeeded in moving the debate a little closer to a progressive posture. And by dropping out, John Edwards has further succeeded in condensing and clarifying the dynamic of the race. Today, this primary campaign has been distilled down to what amounts to Joe Lieberman versus Ned Lamont.

It’s now about a competition between a new and inspirational paradigm — a watershed movement inside the Democratic Party, not to mention a total redrawing the electoral map and an advancing of Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy — versus the shifty, triangulating DLC crap-on-a-stick approach to politics that has, more often than not, made us embarrassed to be Democrats.

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By Paul Rieckhoff @ 5:10 PM EST

Last year, “Walter Reed” became a rallying cry for the veterans’ movement. This year, it may be “Marion, Illinois.”

In June 2007, a combat-disabled Vietnam veteran went to the VA hospital in Marion, IL, complaining of chest and abdominal pain. Tests quickly revealed he had suffered a ruptured spleen and needed urgent surgery. After the operation, his heart blood pressure fell dangerously. He desperately needed an immediate blood transfusion. Adequate blood was prepared for this patient, but because the transfusion was administered too late, the patient died.

According to a recent VA Inspector General’s report, this is just one of the 19 deaths in the last two years that were linked to substandard care at the Marion VA. Among the IG’s conclusions:

•The surgical specialty at the Marion VA was “in disarray.” There were serious problems with the quality of care before, during and after surgery.
•Oversight at the hospital was “fragmented and inconsistent.”
•There were serious “deficiencies in the credentialing of physicians.” In multiple instances, “physicians were privileged to perform procedures without any documentation of current competence to perform those procedures.”

The VA has taken steps to resolve the scandalous treatment of veterans at this hospital. VA leadership has apologized to the families of the victims, and is assuring the public that this was an isolated incident.

I’ve heard reassurances from Administration officials before: that the VA budget is adequate, that troops with PTSD are getting screened and treated, and that the scandal at Walter Reed would be resolved. The Marion VA may be a single bad apple in a good hospital system. In fact, veterans’ organizations agree that VA care is some of the best health care available in this country. But it could also be the canary in the coal mine. Our VA system is severely stretched and under-resourced. And I’m skeptical of any official telling me veterans are going to get what they need without a fight.

As we were with the Walter Reed fiasco, IAVA will be out in front, ensuring that this latest scandal is resolved. And our commitment doesn’t flag. Long after the story fades from the headlines, IAVA follows up, tracking the results and holding politicians’ feet to the fire if they leave the job unfinished.

We’ve just released a new series of in-depth reports covering the five most urgent issues facing America’s new generation of veterans and their families, including everything from equipment shortages to treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury. These groundbreaking reports provide all Americans with comprehensive and easy-to-read overviews of the five most critical issues facing veterans in 2008. Reporters, legislators and activists should print them out and tack them to the wall above their desks right now. We hope you’ll have a look, and encourage your representatives in Washington to do so as well.

Cross posted at Huffington Post

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Write A Caption For “The Commander Guy”…

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:30 PM MST

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anthony @ 17:46 GMT

Vote fraud expert convinced chain of custody is corrupt, says “criminal enterprise” is at work

Paul Joseph Watson | Prison Planet | Updated Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fresh from her confrontations in New Hampshire during which public officials were grilled about slapdash chain of custody and ballot box tampering issues, Bev Harris told the Alex Jones Show that a “criminal enterprise” is running the primary recount and has called for Secretary of State William Gardner to resign and his assistant to be fired.

Harris was fundamental in the vetting and production of the HBO special Hacking Democracy, and has contributed towards bringing charges against vote fraudsters who cheated in Ohio in 2004.

Harris traveled to New Hampshire personally to discover for herself the disgraceful lapses in chain of custody for the memory cards and ballot boxes used in the recent primary.

Harris is featured in the video below [no longer available] asking public officials about slits in ballot boxes as they bizarrely deny that the slits are big enough to allow tampering, amongst a myriad of other disturbing questions about chain of custody. Follow-up questions are frowned upon and one official calls security to have Harris removed. (more…)

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Lobbying Going Up In Smoke?

By- Suzie-Q @ 9:00 AM MST

Abramoff fallout has lobbying industry close to crisis


With President Bush’s promise to veto earmark-laden legislation that emerges from Congress this year, lobbyists who built their businesses around securing targeted federal dollars for their clients worry they may not survive.”There is a constant drumbeat that people need to start listening to, and it doesn’t seem to be going away,” former Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas), an Appropriations Committee veteran who is now a lobbyist, told Roll Call. “People are wondering what kind of future is out there for firms that are focused entirely on appropriations.”

The subscription-only Capitol Hill newspaper reports that firms up and down K Street are reevaluating their business models now that Bush said in his State of the Union address that he would enforce a 50 percent cut in earmarks with his veto pen. House Republicans also have adopted stricter standards over the spending.

Trouble has been building for earmark lobbyists for years since separate scandals involving earmark improprieties sent lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) to jail.

The crackdown on targeted spending projects secreted into appropriations bills seems to be reaching a head, and one lobbyist told Roll Call the industry is “pretty close” to a crisis.

“There’s so much uncertainty across the board,” the unnamed lobbyist told the paper’s Tory Newmyer. “Last year was tough, and the threat still continues.”

While the reforms are seen as thinning the herd of appropriations lobbyists, the industry is hardly in danger of complete collapse.

“Ironically, the more they raise the bar, the more folks like us who are really good are valued,” lobbyist Rich Gold told Newmyer. Gold heads the lobbying practice at Holland & Knight, where he said business has grown at least 10 percent for the last two years.

Democrats made earmark reform a primary focus after taking over Congress last year, and their focus on increased transparency has resulted in slightly fewer lobbying contracts on budge/appropriations issues — 1,157 last year compared to 1,259 in 2005, according to a CQ Moneyline analysis Newmyer cites.

As long as lawmakers continue to rely on voters who like to see federal dollars funded to their hometowns, though, earmarks won’t disappear completely. But the new focus has thinned the herd of lobbyists seeking those dollars and has sent them looking for “the next big thing,” Steve Ellis of earmark critic Taxpayers for Common Sense told The Hill last month.

“The earmark market,” he said, “has popped.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly characterized the findings of a CQ Moneyline analysis. It measured lobbying contracts on budget or appropriations issues, not earmarks

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Sudhan @16:55 CET

Protesters who re-enacted one of Blackwater’s worst civilian massacres in Iraq got jail time, while the real killers remain free.
Last week in Currituck County, N.C., Superior Court Judge Russell Duke presided over the final step in securing the first criminal conviction stemming from the deadly actions of Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration’s favorite mercenary company. Lest you think you missed some earth-shifting, breaking news, hold on a moment. The “criminals” in question were not the armed thugs who gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 20 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square last September. They were seven nonviolent activists who had the audacity to stage a demonstration at the gates of Blackwater’s 7,000-acre private military base in North Carolina to protest the actions of mercenaries acting with impunity — and apparent immunity — in their names and those of every American.

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Another Bush Lie: Reverses on Troop Draw Down!

GEF @ 8:08 AM MST

US Troops Reductions in Iraq May Slow

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is sending strong signals that U.S. troop reductions in Iraq will slow or stop altogether this summer, a move that would jeopardize hopes of relieving strain on the Army and Marine Corps and revive debate over an open-ended U.S. commitment in Iraq.

The indications of a likely slowdown reflect concern by U.S. commanders that the improvement in security in Iraq since June _ to a degree few had predicted when President Bush ordered five more Army brigades to Iraq a year ago _ is tenuous and could be reversed if the extra troops come out too soon.

One of those extra brigades left in December and the other four are due to come out by July, leaving 15 brigades, or roughly 130,000 to 135,000 troops _ the same number as before Bush sent the reinforcements.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is scheduled to report to the president and to Congress in April on possible additional cutbacks and any recommended changes in strategy. Petraeus recently said it would be prudent to “let things settle a bit” after the current round of troop cuts is completed in July before deciding whether and when to reduce further.

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