Tuesday, July 31, 2007

An Immoral Philosophy
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Monday 30 July 2007

When a child is enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (Schip), the positive results can be dramatic. For example, after asthmatic children are enrolled in Schip, the frequency of their attacks declines on average by 60 percent, and their likelihood of being hospitalized for the condition declines more than 70 percent.

Regular care, in other words, makes a big difference. That's why Congressional Democrats, with support from many Republicans, are trying to expand Schip, which already provides essential medical care to millions of children, to cover millions of additional children who would otherwise lack health insurance.

But President Bush says that access to care is no problem - "After all, you just go to an emergency room" - and, with the support of the Republican Congressional leadership, he's declared that he'll veto any Schip expansion on "philosophical" grounds.

It must be about philosophy, because it surely isn't about cost. One of the plans Mr. Bush opposes, the one approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate Finance Committee, would cost less over the next five years than we'll spend in Iraq in the next four months. And it would be fully paid for by an increase in tobacco taxes.

The House plan, which would cover more children, is more expensive, but it offsets Schip costs by reducing subsidies to Medicare Advantage - a privatization scheme that pays insurance companies to provide coverage, and costs taxpayers 12 percent more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.

Strange to say, however, the administration, although determined to prevent any expansion of children's health care, is also dead set against any cut in Medicare Advantage payments.

So what kind of philosophy says that it's O.K. to subsidize insurance companies, but not to provide health care to children?

Well, here's what Mr. Bush said after explaining that emergency rooms provide all the health care you need: "They're going to increase the number of folks eligible through Schip; some want to lower the age for Medicare. And then all of a sudden, you begin to see a - I wouldn't call it a plot, just a strategy - to get more people to be a part of a federalization of health care."

Now, why should Mr. Bush fear that insuring uninsured children would lead to a further "federalization" of health care, even though nothing like that is actually in either the Senate plan or the House plan? It's not because he thinks the plans wouldn't work. It's because he's afraid that they would. That is, he fears that voters, having seen how the government can help children, would ask why it can't do the same for adults.

And there you have the core of Mr. Bush's philosophy. He wants the public to believe that government is always the problem, never the solution. But it's hard to convince people that government is always bad when they see it doing good things. So his philosophy says that the government must be prevented from solving problems, even if it can. In fact, the more good a proposed government program would do, the more fiercely it must be opposed.

This sounds like a caricature, but it isn't. The truth is that this good-is-bad philosophy has always been at the core of Republican opposition to health care reform. Thus back in 1994, William Kristol warned against passage of the Clinton health care plan "in any form," because "its success would signal the rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment that such policy is being perceived as a failure in other areas."

But it has taken the fight over children's health insurance to bring the perversity of this philosophy fully into view.

There are arguments you can make against programs, like Social Security, that provide a safety net for adults. I can respect those arguments, even though I disagree. But denying basic health care to children whose parents lack the means to pay for it, simply because you're afraid that success in insuring children might put big government in a good light, is just morally wrong.

And the public understands that. According to a recent Georgetown University poll, 9 in 10 Americans - including 83 percent of self-identified Republicans - support an expansion of the children's health insurance program.

There is, it seems, more basic decency in the hearts of Americans than is dreamt of in Mr. Bush's philosophy.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gonzales Lying: what to do?

Mr. Gonzales’s Never-Ending Story

New York Times Editorial

President Bush often insists he has to be the decider - ignoring Congress and the public when it comes to the tough matters on war, terrorism and torture, even deciding whether an ordinary man in Florida should be allowed to let his wife die with dignity. Apparently that burden does not apply to the functioning of one of the most vital government agencies, the Justice Department.

Americans have been waiting months for Mr. Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who long ago proved that he was incompetent and more recently has proved that he can’t tell the truth. Mr. Bush refused to fire him after it was clear Mr. Gonzales lied about his role in the political purge of nine federal prosecutors. And he is still refusing to do so - even after testimony by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, that suggests that Mr. Gonzales either lied to Congress about Mr. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping operation or at the very least twisted the truth so badly that it amounts to the same thing.

Mr. Gonzales has now told Congress twice that there was no dissent in the government about Mr. Bush’s decision to authorize the National Security Agency to spy on Americans’ international calls and e-mails without obtaining the legally required warrant. Mr. Mueller and James Comey, a former deputy attorney general, say that is not true. Not only was there disagreement, but they also say that they almost resigned over the dispute.

Both men say that in March 2004 - when Mr. Gonzales was still the White House counsel - the Justice Department refused to endorse a continuation of the wiretapping program because it was illegal. (Mr. Comey was running the department temporarily because Attorney General John Ashcroft had emergency surgery.) Unwilling to accept that conclusion, Vice President Dick Cheney sent Mr. Gonzales and another official to Mr. Ashcroft’s hospital room to get him to approve the wiretapping.

Mr. Comey and Mr. Mueller intercepted the White House team, and they say they watched as a groggy Mr. Ashcroft refused to sign off on the wiretapping and told the White House officials to leave. Mr. Comey said the White House later modified the eavesdropping program enough for the Justice Department to sign off.

Last week, Mr. Gonzales denied that account. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee the dispute was not about the wiretapping operation but was over “other intelligence activities.” He declined to say what those were.

Lawmakers who have been briefed on the administration’s activities said the dispute was about the one eavesdropping program that has been disclosed. So did Mr. Comey. And so did Mr. Mueller, most recently on Thursday in a House hearing. He said he had kept notes.

That was plain enough. It confirmed what most people long ago concluded: that Mr. Gonzales is more concerned about doing political-damage control for Mr. Bush - in this case insisting that there was never a Justice Department objection to a clearly illegal program - than in doing his duty. But the White House continued to defend him.

As far as we can tell, there are three possible explanations for Mr. Gonzales’s talk about a dispute over other - unspecified - intelligence activities. One, he lied to Congress. Two, he used a bureaucratic dodge to mislead lawmakers and the public: the spying program was modified after Mr. Ashcroft refused to endorse it, which made it “different” from the one Mr. Bush has acknowledged. The third is that there was more wiretapping than has been disclosed, perhaps even purely domestic wiretapping, and Mr. Gonzales is helping Mr. Bush cover it up.

Democratic lawmakers are asking for a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Gonzales’s words and deeds. Solicitor General Paul Clement has a last chance to show that the Justice Department is still minimally functional by fulfilling that request.

If that does not happen, Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales.

© 2007 The New York Times

Saturday, July 28, 2007

voter suppression in 5 states via White House operatives consent and coaching.

Editor's Note: A full examination of this issue will be the topic for this week's program, "Voter Caging" on "NOW" airing Friday, July 27 on PBS (Check local listings at http://www.pbs.org/now/sched.html.). TO/vh

Also see:
Truthout's interview with former US attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias

Exclusive | Emails Detail RNC Voter Suppression in Five States
By Jason Leopold and Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report

Thursday 26 July 2007

Truthot has obtaind previously undiscloseOP campaign emails from the 2004presidential race that reveal and detail strategies to disenfranchise voters in crucial swing states.
(Photo: Truthout)

Previously undisclosed documents detail how Republican operatives, with the knowledge of several White House officials, engaged in an illegal, racially-motivated effort to suppress tens of thousands of votes during the 2004 presidential campaign in a state where George W. Bush was trailing his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry.

The documents also contain details describing how Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign officials, and at least one individual who worked for White House political adviser Karl Rove, planned to stop minorities residing in Cuyahoga County from voting on election day.

The efforts to purge voters from registration rolls was spearheaded by Tim Griffin, a former Republican National Committee opposition researcher. Griffin recently resigned from his post as interim US attorney for Little Rock Arkansas. His predecessor, Bud Cummins, was forced out to make way for Griffin.

Another set of documents, 43 pages of emails, provided to Truthout by the PBS news program "NOW," contains blueprints for a massive effort undertaken by RNC operatives in 2004, to challenge the eligibility of voters expected to support Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in states such as Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Pennsylvania.

One email, dated September 30, 2004, and sent to a dozen or so staffers on the Bush-Cheney campaign and the RNC, under the subject line "voter reg fraud strategy conference call," describes how campaign staffers planned to challenge the veracity of votes in a handful of battleground states in the event of a Democratic victory.

Furthermore, the emails show the Bush-Cheney campaign and RNC staffers compiled voter-challenge lists that targeted probable Democratic voters in at least five states: New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Voting rights lawyers have made allegations of so called "vote caging," against Republicans previously. These emails provide more evidence. One Republican operative involved in the planning wrote "we can do this in NV, FL, PA and NM because we have a list to run against the Absentee Ballot requests, and should."

Vote caging is an illegal tactic to suppress minorities from voting by having their names purged from voter rolls when they fail to respond to registered mail sent to their homes. The Republican National Committee signed a consent decree in 1986 stating they would not engage in the practice after they were caught suppressing votes in 1981 and 1986.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) said "[c]aging is a reprehensible voter suppression tactic, and it may also violate federal law and the terms of applicable judicially enforceable consent decrees." Senators Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Whitehouse have called for a Justice Department probe into the practice.

One of the individuals connected to the White House who was the recipient of dozens of emails discussing the strategy to suppress votes was Coddy Johnson, the national field director of Bush's 2004 campaign and former associate director of political affairs, working under Karl Rove. Johnson's father was Bush's college roommate at Yale. Another person who was asked to participate in the so-called "voter reg fraud strategy" conference call was Jennifer Millerwise, a former deputy communications director for the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign and a former spokesperson for Vice President Cheney. Millerwise was interviewed by Patrick Fitzgerald during the federal investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.

Other participants for the conference call included Mark "Thor" Hearne. Hearne is closely aligned with Karl Rove and the RNC and has been accused of pushing for the firings of some US attorneys by at least one of the fired attorneys. Some of the attorneys believe they were fired based on their refusal to prosecute alleged cases of voter fraud.

Emails among Ohio Republican Party official Michael Magan, Coddy Johnson, then national field director of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, and Timothy Griffin, reveal the men were given documents that could be used as evidence to justify widespread voter challenges if the Bush campaign needed to contest the election results. Johnson referred to the documents as a "goldmine".

The valuable documents were lists of registered voters who did not return address confirmation forms to the Ohio Board of Elections. The Republican operatives compared this list with lists of voters who requested absentee ballots. In the opinion of one of the strategists, the fact that many names appeared on both lists was evidence of voter fraud. "A bad registration card can be an accident or fraud. A bad card AND an Absentee Ballot request is a clear case of fraud," according to former Bush-Cheney campaign staffer Robert Paduchik.

Another Republican operative saw the value of the Ohio list from a media strategy perspective. According to the emails, Christopher McInerney, a RNC researcher said "... I have already tasked our IT [information technology] person with creating a match list between the Board of Elections return mail list and the Absentee Ballot request list. Jack [Christopher] thought this would be a good idea to have - to reference as part of the larger DenHerder press strategy." It is not known what the "DenHerder press strategy" refers to, but Dave DenHerder served as regional political director for the 2004 Bush campaign.

McInerney's email continues, "I can't speak to other states, but if they don't have flagged voter rolls, we run the risk of having GOP fingerprints."

Strategist Christopher Guith responded by saying "I would think we are less worried about "fingerprints" if we have decent evidence that fraudulent ballots are being cast. I think the intent is to take the Board of Elections' list and challenge absentee ballots? At that point, isn't it more important to stop absentee ballots that we have a high certainty of fraud than avoid the hit?"

McInerney's and Guith's emails have been previously disclosed.

Griffin responded, "I guess we have to make sure we have bodies. It seems like it always comes down to bodies. Why don't you ask your peeps in each state at issue if they have the resources to do this. Then, I might/can put some resources in the states that are lacking."

The emails seem to show the Republican operatives were preparing for a confrontation reminiscent of the Florida recount affair that followed the 2000 Presidential election. This exchange took place less than one month prior to the November 2004 election.

The list of questionable voters that was compiled by the Ohio Board of Elections was quite similar to the vote caging lists used by the Republican campaigners. The Board of Elections sent out voter confirmation letters to targeted registered voters. The letters required the voter to return a confirmation request or have their name removed from the voter rolls. Because the confirmation letter gave the voter 60 days to respond, a voter who failed to respond to the confirmation request would still be on the voter rolls for the primary election, but would be purged prior to the general election.

The list was apparently checked by two people identified only as "Ted" and "Evan who" made handwritten notes in one of the columns. According to their notes, they described certain parts of Cleveland where low-income and minority voters were targeted as containing "mixed use buildings" and "single family apartments." Another section said, "looks like a parking lot ... doesn't look residential."

In an interview with Truthout in May, David Iglesias, the former US attorney for New Mexico, said Pat Rogers, one of Hearne's colleagues, alleged there was widespread voter fraud in New Mexico and pressured Iglesias to bring criminal charges against some individuals. Iglesias said he had investigated those allegations tirelessly and found zero evidence to back it up. He added that, based on evidence that had surfaced thus far and "Karl Rove's obsession with voter fraud issues throughout the country," he now believes GOP operatives had wanted him to go after Democratic-funded organizations in an attempt to swing the 2006 midterm elections to Republicans.

Jason Leopold is a former Los Angeles bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswire. He has written over 2,000 stories on the California energy crisis and received the Dow Jones Journalist of the Year Award in 2001 for his coverage on the issue as well as a Project Censored award in 2004. Leopold also reported extensively on Enron's downfall and was the first journalist to land an interview with former Enron president Jeffrey Skilling following Enron's bankruptcy filing in December 2001. Leopold has appeared on CNBC and National Public Radio as an expert on energy policy and has also been the keynote speaker at more than two dozen energy industry conferences around the country.

Matt Renner is a reporter for Truthout.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A President who attempts to subvert the Constitution is impeachable.. comments by Barbara Jordan.

Thirty-Three Years Later: A Statement on the Articles of Impeachment

by Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

Statement on the Articles of Impeachment delivered July 25, 1974, House Judiciary Committee by Congresswoman Barbara Jordan:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I join my colleague Mr. Rangel in thanking you for giving the junior members of this committee the glorious opportunity of sharing the pain of this inquiry. Mr. Chairman, you are a strong man, and it has not been easy but we have tried as best we can to give you as much assistance as possible.

Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States: “We, the people.” It’s a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed on the seventeenth of September in 1787, I was not included in that “We, the people.” I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation, and court decision, I have finally been included in “We, the people.”

Today I am an inquisitor. An hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemnness that I feel right now. My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution.

Who can so properly be the inquisitors for the nation as the representatives of the nation themselves?” “The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men.”¹ And that’s what we’re talking about. In other words, [the jurisdiction comes] from the abuse or violation of some public trust.

It is wrong, I suggest, it is a misreading of the Constitution for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the President should be removed from office. The Constitution doesn’t say that. The powers relating to impeachment are an essential check in the hands of the body of the legislature against and upon the encroachments of the executive. The division between the two branches of the legislature, the House and the Senate, assigning to the one the right to accuse and to the other the right to judge, the framers of this Constitution were very astute. They did not make the accusers and the judgers — and the judges the same person.

We know the nature of impeachment. We’ve been talking about it awhile now. It is chiefly designed for the President and his high ministers to somehow be called into account. It is designed to “bridle” the executive if he engages in excesses. “It is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men.”² The framers confided in the Congress the power if need be, to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President swollen with power and grown tyrannical, and preservation of the independence of the executive.

The nature of impeachment: a narrowly channeled exception to the separation-of-powers maxim. The Federal Convention of 1787 said that. It limited impeachment to high crimes and misdemeanors and discounted and opposed the term “maladministration.” “It is to be used only for great misdemeanors,” so it was said in the North Carolina ratification convention. And in the Virginia ratification convention: “We do not trust our liberty to a particular branch. We need one branch to check the other.”

“No one need be afraid” — the North Carolina ratification convention — “No one need be afraid that officers who commit oppression will pass with immunity.” “Prosecutions of impeachments will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community,” said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, number 65. “We divide into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused.”³ I do not mean political parties in that sense.

The drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment; but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term “high crime[s] and misdemeanors.” Of the impeachment process, it was Woodrow Wilson who said that “Nothing short of the grossest offenses against the plain law of the land will suffice to give them speed and effectiveness. Indignation so great as to overgrow party interest may secure a conviction; but nothing else can.”

Common sense would be revolted if we engaged upon this process for petty reasons. Congress has a lot to do: Appropriations, Tax Reform, Health Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, Housing, Environmental Protection, Energy Sufficiency, Mass Transportation. Pettiness cannot be allowed to stand in the face of such overwhelming problems. So today we are not being petty. We are trying to be big, because the task we have before us is a big one.

This morning, in a discussion of the evidence, we were told that the evidence which purports to support the allegations of misuse of the CIA by the President is thin. We’re told that that evidence is insufficient. What that recital of the evidence this morning did not include is what the President did know on June the 23rd, 1972.

The President did know that it was Republican money, that it was money from the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, which was found in the possession of one of the burglars arrested on June the 17th. What the President did know on the 23rd of June was the prior activities of E. Howard Hunt, which included his participation in the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, which included Howard Hunt’s participation in the Dita Beard ITT affair, which included Howard Hunt’s fabrication of cables designed to discredit the Kennedy Administration.

We were further cautioned today that perhaps these proceedings ought to be delayed because certainly there would be new evidence forthcoming from the President of the United States. There has not even been an obfuscated indication that this committee would receive any additional materials from the President. The committee subpoena is outstanding, and if the President wants to supply that material, the committee sits here. The fact is that on yesterday, the American people waited with great anxiety for eight hours, not knowing whether their President would obey an order of the Supreme Court of the United States.

At this point, I would like to juxtapose a few of the impeachment criteria with some of the actions the President has engaged in. Impeachment criteria: James Madison, from the Virginia ratification convention. “If the President be connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter him, he may be impeached.”

We have heard time and time again that the evidence reflects the payment to defendants money. The President had knowledge that these funds were being paid and these were funds collected for the 1972 presidential campaign. We know that the President met with Mr. Henry Petersen 27 times to discuss matters related to Watergate, and immediately thereafter met with the very persons who were implicated in the information Mr. Petersen was receiving. The words are: “If the President is connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter that person, he may be impeached.”

Justice Story: “Impeachment” is attended — “is intended for occasional and extraordinary cases where a superior power acting for the whole people is put into operation to protect their rights and rescue their liberties from violations.” We know about the Huston plan. We know about the break-in of the psychiatrist’s office. We know that there was absolute complete direction on September 3rd when the President indicated that a surreptitious entry had been made in Dr. Fielding’s office, after having met with Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Young. “Protect their rights.” “Rescue their liberties from violation.”

The Carolina ratification convention impeachment criteria: those are impeachable “who behave amiss or betray their public trust.”4 Beginning shortly after the Watergate break-in and continuing to the present time, the President has engaged in a series of public statements and actions designed to thwart the lawful investigation by government prosecutors. Moreover, the President has made public announcements and assertions bearing on the Watergate case, which the evidence will show he knew to be false. These assertions, false assertions, impeachable, those who misbehave. Those who “behave amiss or betray the public trust.”

James Madison again at the Constitutional Convention: “A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.” The Constitution charges the President with the task of taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, and yet the President has counseled his aides to commit perjury, willfully disregard the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, conceal surreptitious entry, attempt to compromise a federal judge, while publicly displaying his cooperation with the processes of criminal justice. “A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.”

If the impeachment provision in the Constitution of the United States will not reach the offenses charged here, then perhaps that 18th-century Constitution should be abandoned to a 20th-century paper shredder.

Has the President committed offenses, and planned, and directed, and acquiesced in a course of conduct which the Constitution will not tolerate? That’s the question. We know that. We know the question. We should now forthwith proceed to answer the question. It is reason, and not passion, which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision.

I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.


This historical statement was made by Barbara Jordan, Congresswoman, July 25, 1974.

Paschal: There are many, includinkg lawyers and scholars of the Constitution who are of teh opinion that this current President is impeachable, at at least five, perhaps more, accounts.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Calling Out Idiot America, by Scott Ritter. Paschal: read this if you want to understand Iraq - when we don't 1000s more die.. . .

Scott Ritter: Calling Out Idiot America


Posted on Mar 23, 2007

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion. Editor, Robert Scheer. Publisher, Zuade Kaufman.
Copyright © 2007 Truthdig, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 23, 2007

July 22, 2007
On Language


If Shakespeare were still alive, he would be 443 this year and would recognize the need to revise one of his most famous passages, the Seven Ages of Man. Infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, shrunk shank and then second childishness — these fall well short of describing our new age of age.

Some people have always lived to be very old, but never before have so many lived so much longer and stronger. The words “poor,” “sick” and “old” used to be virtually hyphenated. Many millions can now look forward to 20, 25 and more years after retirement of decent health, sustainable income, productivity and service.

Hence the Shakespearean problem: What to call these millions. Harry (Rick) Moody, a scholar on the subject of aging, describes the great majority as the wellderly, distinct from the afflicted illderly. But that witty distinction doesn’t solve the larger nomenclature problem. Language has not yet caught up with life.

No variation of elderly encompasses the vast variety and abilities of people over 55 or 65. Yet we keep looking for a single generic term. Oldsters and golden agers are patronizing, targets for comics. Then there are outright coarse insults like geezers, gaffers, crocks or gomers, the acronym that some cranky doctors use to mean “get out of my emergency room.”

Still other terms fail because they are too narrow. Boomers, describing those born when the population started to bulge in 1946, are only now starting to enter their 60s. Retirees is an imperfect generalization because, for one thing, many people retire young and, for another, many older people continue to work, whether for the money or the satisfaction. Recognizing that half its members are not retired, the American Association of Retired Persons has retired its name and become simply AARP. AARP The Magazine, with some 31 million readers, sometimes uses another term, says Steven Slon, the editor, as in an annual feature titled “Movies for Grown-Ups.”

I’ve now learned from personal experience that even once-neutral terms have become troublesome. I’m involved with a new organization called ReServe that connects skilled people, near or at retirement age, with part-time jobs at nonprofit agencies in New York City. What to call them? They bridle even at inoffensive standbys like elders and older adults. An earlier generation found senior citizens acceptable, and senior as an adjective, as in senior vice president, remains so. But not as a noun, as in seniors.

Why? Not out of denial or vanity but because the experience of older people shows that any such generalization ignites unthinking discrimination — what Dr. Robert Butler, the longevity authority, has indelibly labeled ageism. Somehow, even well-intentioned potential employers casually assume that age renders these folks — lawyers, teachers, writers, doctors, accountants, social workers — suddenly incapable of tasks more demanding than reading to third graders.

In its work with 65 nonprofit agencies and New York City departments, ReServe is demonstrating how wrong it is to characterize people in this way. For them, the term ReServist answers the terminology problem. But what of the larger population of 35 million people over 65?

Marc Freedman, founder of Civic Ventures, a think tank and incubator of ideas about later years, has just published a book titled “Encore,” describing examples of satisfying second and third careers, but that term applies to jobs, not people. In a New York Times report last month on graying suburbs, Sam Roberts offered a clever coinage: suppies, playing off the ’80s acronym for young urban professionals. But even that applies only to some of the millions in this eighth age of life.

“We struggle with this in everything we write,” says William H. Frey, a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution. “We get a lot of pushback when we use ‘pre-seniors’ to describe people in their mid-50s. ‘That’s not me!’ they say.”

There is probably no single acceptable term — because no single term can embrace so vast and varied a population. The ultimate answer will most likely be a suite of functional and factual terms, like the typology scholars use to distinguish between the young old, 65 to 80; the old old, 80 to 90; the oldest old, 90 to 99; and centenarians. Terms like these, though somewhat awkward, are apt to enter common usage as society faces up to the new age of age. Necessity is the mother of locution.

Thirteen Figures

Modern life keeps adding zeroes. A seven-figure income once meant millionaire, and that meant rich. Now it describes the owner of a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. For a time, billionaire became an exclusive label, but Forbes magazine now counts almost a thousand of them around the world.

Not so long ago, trillion was a figurative exaggeration for fantastically costly. Now it’s a literal figure. In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson worried about being the first president to ask Congress for a $100 billion federal budget. Next year, President Bush’s budget request may well exceed $3 trillion. Meanwhile, Bill Gates and others have a head start toward becoming trillionaires.

How, in this 13-figure world, do you now characterize immense amounts? For the moment, zillions will probably suffice, and then, when that pales into insignificance, there’s always gazillions.

Jack Rosenthal has pinch-hit for the vacationing William Safire for 26 years. His day job is president of The New York Times Company Foundation.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Gospel in Harry Potter,

riday, July 20, 2007
Courier Journal

Harry's "Gospel"

Lots of people will be reading the final "Harry Potter" installment as fast as they can, but Connie Neal of California has an especially strong moThat's because she has a book deadline of her own: a new edition of her work, "The Gospel according to Harry Potter."

Neal's book -- published in 2002 by the Louisville-based Westminster John Knox -- was a response to Christians who wanted to boycott Harry Potter because they felt the tales of magic amounted to occult practices forbidden in the Bible. Neal wrote that readers find what they're looking for in the books. Those who search for the positive, she wrote, can find Christian-friendly themes such as the sacrificial love of Harry's mother.

The book, along with a study guide offered for church and other group discussions, together have sold nearly 100,000 copies, according to David Dobson, director of product management at Westminster John Knox.

"It's been one of our best-selling books during that period," Dobson said.

He said Neal, whose first book covered the first four Harry Potter books, is working on a revised edition that add material about the final three. It's due out in the spring.

The book is part of the publisher's series of "Gospel according to" various pop-culture phenomena, including Oprah, the Beatles and J.R.R. Tolkien. It recent put out a revised edition of one about "The Simpsons," which has its own big product roll-out later this month with the cartoon's first movie.

Monday, July 16, 2007

$660 Million for stonewalling

Roman Catholic bishops created this sad mess by their blindness and arrogance, refusing to accept research, study and evidence that many scandals were coming, as far back as the 1980s. Father Eugene Kennedy has detailed some of this stubbornness and denial.

My priest friends in California say this went on much longer than necessary because Mahoney was so hard nosed about it.

I myself wrote four letters to the bishop of Lexington in 1993, warning him that priests were uneducated in their sexuality and scandals were coming here unless he acted. Being a psychotherapist in private practice I was too aware of what was happening and saw a number of persons abused by priests. Bishop Ken Williams never responded, (not once to four letters explaining why training was essential) even tho I had been in hjs office several times,. and had an ongoing request to be put on his schedule with the chancellor at the time. I thought we had a good relationship and he complimented me on my work, but this issue was not one he was willing to address.

Paschal Baute
Pastoral psychologist.

July 16, 2007

Judge Accepts Settlement in Los Angeles Abuse Cases

Four years of legal combat ended today when a judge in Los Angeles accepted a $660 million settlement between the city’s Roman Catholic diocese and 508 people who had filed suit over sexual abuse by priests and members of Catholic orders. The acceptance of the agreement reached late Saturday night came on the day when the trial of the abuse cases was scheduled to begin.

The settlement is the largest yet in any Catholic diocese — amounting to about $1.3 million per person involved. The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has paid more than $2 billion in settlements and legal judgments to victims of sexual abuse and their families.

Some Roman Catholic parishioners in Los Angeles said that they were eager to see the victims compensated, but that the drawn-out legal battle had soured them on Cardinal Mahony’s leadership.

“I don’t think they’re getting enough money. There’s no amount that can compensate them,” said Cheryl Ortega, 59, a parishioner at Our Mother of Good Counsel church, in Los Feliz.

Steve Mills, 52, a parishioner there for 25 years, said he was appalled that the negotiations took so long and cost the archdiocese so much money that could have been used to help the poor or build schools.

“My opinion of the cardinal has gone down because of all this,” Mr. Mills said. “And it seems with everybody I talk to this is true.”

Cardinal Mahony said that $250 million would be paid by the archdiocese, $227 million by insurers, $60 million by religious orders whose priests and brothers are accused of perpetrating some of the abuse. He said the remainder, $123 million, would come from “other sources,” including religious orders “not yet participating” in the settlement.

He said that to pay for the settlement, the archdiocese would sell some properties, liquidate some investments and borrow some money. He said the archdiocese would not need to end any “core” functions, or to sell any parish properties or schools.

The size of the settlement may reflect the archdiocese’s tremendous financial risk had it taken these cases to trial, said Carl Tobias, the Williams Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, in Virginia.

“California judges and juries are more used to big settlements, or big verdicts,” he said. “When the defendants are more concerned about their exposure, there is more willingness to pay more in a settlement.”

People in Los Angeles who contended they were sexually abused said they were eager to move on, but had some misgivings because they believe that Cardinal Mahony and other church leaders who were culpable would likely never be held personally accountable.

Tony Almeida, a Los Angeles firefighter, said he had been emotionally preparing himself to testify at the trial that was to open Monday that the Rev. Clinton Hagenbach repeatedly molested him and other altar boys, and once pinned him down and raped him. Mr. Almeida, who is 44, said he attributes his alcoholism, aggression, depression and two broken marriages, in part, to the abuse and the years of suppressing the memories.

“My life is just a mess. With therapy, I think I’m doing a little better. This settlement is not going to fix everything, I understand that,” he said, but added, “It is a compensation for what I’ve gone through. But I still feel the church needs to be held accountable for what they’ve done to me, and my life.”

He said he was relieved that he would not have to testify in court, because even the three days of giving depositions — the first time he had to recount details of the abuse in public — caused his blood pressure to spike so high he had to take a leave from work.

“I could have gone to trial and won more money. But to tell you the truth, just going through the depositions was hard enough for me,” he said. “I’m tired of the pain and I want to go on with my life.”

John Manly, a lawyer for 50 of the plaintiffs in the case, said they had been forced to use the civil courts to expose sexual predators and call church officials to account because the criminal justice system had failed.

“I think the question people need to ask themselves is how can Roger Mahony pay three-quarters of a billion for criminal acts, and essentially walk free?” Mr. Manly said. “Especially since it’s other people’s money, and he has clearly been give special treatment by law enforcement and the power structure in L.A. When is there going to be some accountability, and if not, why?”

Cardinal Mahony said at a news conference on Sunday afternoon, “Yes, I’ve made mistakes.”

“But I didn’t know,” he said, that the treatment programs where he sent some predatory priests, before returning them to ministry, were not effective.

[Catholic bishops hired a priest researcher, and then when they did not like his report, fired him. It was once again, shooting the messenger of bad news. The story of their denial and cover-up is a long and sad one. ]

He said to the victims that he wished he could restore their lives to where they were before the abuse occurred. “Your life, I wish, were like a VHS tape” that could be rewound, he said.

Michael Parrish contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Dark Side of W.

THE DARK SIDE OF BUSH; Understanding his Ego Dynamics

By Teilhard

The Bush Doctrine of exporting "democracy" at gunpoint is being tested in the laboratory of the Middle East. The results, so far, are similar to those experienced by one Dr. Frankenstein, who also – out of hubris – tried to create life out of death, and instead birthed a monster: Justin Raimondo

The monster that George W Bush is creating in the Middle East is a reflection of his own drift to the Dark Side ~ where his God is an old testament externalized god of wrath and judgement and his mentor and chief executor of this dark doctrine is Darth Vader himself ~ Dick ' the natural state of man is war ' Cheney.

To fully understand Bush's slide to the dark side you must understand ego inflation ( How the ego will externalize or hold onto anything versus facing its original birthing from aloneness, unworthiness and despair ) and how Bush has externalized himself into the role of the ' Divine Warrior ' as predicted in The Apocalypse of St John the Apostle ~ rather than face his dreaded fear of failure.

It's all in Bush's earmarked Bible and also, for that matter, yours. Read THE APOCALYPSE , Chapter 19 VII The Consumation ~ The Divine Warrior; And I saw heaven standing open; and behold, a white horse, and he who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and with justice he judges and wages war. And his eyes are as a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; he has a name written which no man knows except himself. And he is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood, and his name is called the Word of God. And the armies of heaven,clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

King of kings and lord of lords

And from his mouth goes forth a sharp sword with which to smite the nations. And he will rule them with a rod of iron, and he treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God almighty. And he has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, " King of Kings and Lord of Lords ."

So there you have it ~ Bush see's himself as the ultimate decider because, according to his interpretation of scripture, he is not only the self-appointed decider in domestic politics but the divine warrior as predicted in The Apocalypse of St John the Apostle ~ and nothing, including Congress, will keep him from his preordained destiny. His far right born-again followers also see him as not only the Divine Warrior ~ but ready to fulfill his biblical mission.

As a psychotherapist I will share that Bush has the classic symptoms of a person in serious denial of reality as well as the barely suppressed anger of a dry drunk . This thinly disguised anger masks deep childhood wounding and insecurities which I am sure he has never revisited or understood. One of the classic symptoms of denial is the need to be in control and when that control begins to break down, as it is now, emotional instability is a common result.

There is only one way to end Bush's self delusion and that is Impeachment ~ for both Bush and Cheney must be held accountable for not protecting and supporting the Constitution which they both swore to do when they took office. A point well taken in Bill Moyer's special last night.

Impeachment proceedings must begin immediately or the Iranian war card will be played and we will soon be facing a quagmire of biblical proportions in the Persian gulf.

Allen L Roland http://blogs.salon.com/0002255/2007/07/14.html

Freelance columnist Allen L Roland is available for comments , interviews and speaking engagements ( allen@allenroland.com )

Authors Website: www.allenroland.com

Authors Bio: Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog and website allenroland.com He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on Conscious talk radio www.conscioustalk.net


Monday, July 09, 2007

Bush Justice is a Disgrace. DOJ insider.of 25 years

As a longtime attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, I can honestly say that I have never been as ashamed of the department and government that I serve as I am at this time.

The public record now plainly demonstrates that both the DOJ and the government as a whole have been thoroughly politicized in a manner that is inappropriate, unethical and indeed unlawful. The unconscionable commutation of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence, the misuse of warrantless investigative powers under the Patriot Act and the deplorable treatment of U.S. attorneys all point to an unmistakable pattern of abuse.

In the course of its tenure since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has turned the entire government (and the DOJ in particular) into a veritable Augean stable on issues such as civil rights, civil liberties, international law and basic human rights, as well as criminal prosecution and federal employment and contracting practices. It has systematically undermined the rule of law in the name of fighting terrorism, and it has sought to insulate its actions from legislative or judicial scrutiny and accountability by invoking national security at every turn, engaging in persistent fearmongering, routinely impugning the integrity and/or patriotism of its critics, and protecting its own lawbreakers. This is neither normal government conduct nor "politics as usual," but a national disgrace of a magnitude unseen since the days of Watergate - which, in fact, I believe it eclipses.

In more than a quarter of a century at the DOJ, I have never before seen such consistent and marked disrespect on the part of the highest ranking government policymakers for both law and ethics. It is especially unheard of for U.S. attorneys to be targeted and removed on the basis of pressure and complaints from political figures dissatisfied with their handling of politically sensitive investigations and their unwillingness to "play ball." Enough information has already been disclosed to support the conclusion that this is exactly what happened here, at least in the case of former U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico (and quite possibly in several others as well). Law enforcement is not supposed to be a political team sport, and prosecutorial independence and integrity are not "performance problems."

In his long-awaited but uninformative testimony concerning the extraordinary firings of U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales did not allay these concerns. Indeed, he faced a no-win situation. If he testified falsely regarding his alleged lack of recollection and lack of involvement, he perjured himself and lied to both Congress and the American people. On the other hand, if he told the truth, he clearly has been derelict in the performance of his duties and is not up to the job. Either way, his fitness to serve is now in doubt.

Tellingly, in his congressional testimony, D. Kyle Sampson (the junior aide to whom the attorney general delegated vast authority) expressed the view that the distinction between "performance" considerations and "political" considerations was "largely artificial." This attitude, however, is precisely the problem. The administration that Sampson served has elided the distinction between government performance and politics to an unparalleled extent (just as it has blurred the boundaries between the White House counsel's office and the attorney general's office). And it is no answer to say that U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president. The point that is lost on those who make this argument is that U.S. attorneys must not serve partisan purposes or advance a partisan agenda - which has nothing to do with requiring them to promote an administration's legitimate policy priorities.

As usual, the administration has attempted to minimize the significance of its malfeasance and misfeasance, reciting its now-customary "mistakes were made" mantra, accepting purely abstract responsibility without consequences for its actions, and making hollow vows to do better. However, the DOJ Inspector General's Patriot Act report (which would not even have existed if the administration had not been forced to grudgingly accept a very modest legislative reporting requirement, instead of being allowed to operate in its preferred secrecy), the White House-DOJ e-mails, and now the Libby commutation merely highlight yet again the lawlessness, incompetence and dishonesty of the present executive branch leadership.

They also underscore Congress' lack of wisdom in blindly trusting the administration, largely rubber-stamping its legislative proposals, and essentially abandoning the congressional oversight function for most of the last six years. These are, after all, the same leaders who brought us the WMD fiasco, the unnecessary and disastrous Iraq war, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, warrantless domestic NSA surveillance, the Valerie Wilson leak, the arrest of Brandon Mayfield, and the Katrina response failure. The last thing they deserve is trust.

The sweeping, judicially unchecked powers granted under the Patriot Act should neither have been created in the first place nor permanently renewed thereafter, and the Act - which also contributed to the ongoing contretemps regarding the replacement of U.S. attorneys, by changing the appointment process to invite political abuse - should be substantially modified, if not scrapped outright. And real, rather than symbolic, responsibility should be assigned for the manifold abuses. The public trust has been flagrantly violated, and meaningful accountability is long overdue. Officials who have brought into disrepute both the Department of Justice and the administration of justice as a whole should finally have to answer for it - and the misdeeds at issue involve not merely garden-variety misconduct, but multiple "high crimes and misdemeanors," including war crimes and crimes against humanity.

I realize that this constitutionally protected statement subjects me to a substantial risk of unlawful reprisal from extremely ruthless people who have repeatedly taken such action in the past. But I am confident that I am speaking on behalf of countless thousands of honorable public servants, at Justice and elsewhere, who take their responsibilities seriously and share these views. And some things must be said, whatever the risk.

The views presented in this essay are not representative of the Department of Justice or its employees but are instead the personal views of its author.

John S. Koppel has been a civil appellate attorney with the Department of Justice since 1981.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

High Court Takes Giant Step Backward. opinion by Helen Thomas.

High Court Takes Giant Steps Backward

by Helen Thomas

WASHINGTON — The new Supreme Court is more conservative than it has been in decades. It’s also meaner.

It is a dream come true for Republican presidencies dating back to the “strict constructionist” court aspirations of President Nixon and now made possible by the conservative George W. Bush.

Before closing down for the summer last month, the high court tossed out a flurry of decisions that overturned or reinterpreted long-standing liberal precedents.

The court under Chief Justice John Roberts seems intent on rolling back advances in race and gender relations that have helped America achieve a more equal and humane society.

The 5-4 decisions of the conservative court dealt with race, abortion, free speech, church-state relations and a host of other issues. They also showed a pro-business and anti-consumer slant.

The majority justices are running counter to the current trend against right-wing ideologues and a power-grabbing unilateral presidency.

On race, the court apparently has decided to return to the “good old days” when separate was considered equal when it came to racial segregation, a concept that the high court discarded in the 1954 landmark decision of Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., which desegregated the nation’s schools.

Last week, the Supreme Court junked the Brown rule when it struck down the use of race in school admissions in Seattle and Louisville. Officials had used race as a factor in school assignments in order to build diversity.

The historic Brown ruling paved the way for the banning of segregated public facilities, hotels, restaurants and theaters.

The Roberts court also upheld an unconditional ban on the procedure that opponents dub “partial birth abortion.” Supporters of abortion rights see this decision as a harbinger of doom for the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.

The court also ruled that public school principals and teachers can discipline students who display signs or wear T-shirts that carry messages counter to the schools’ anti-drug policies. The decision overturned a 1969 ruling that students do not shed their rights “at the schoolhouse door.”

And the justices threw out a 1911 ruling that barred manufacturers from setting minimum retail prices on goods.

In a blow to the principlf separation of church and state, the court rejected a challenge by the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" against a White House program that helps church charities competing with government programs obtain federal grants.

The ruling is a bow to the president who for the first time in history set up a White House office to promote faith-based entities.

(Paschal's note: Key persons connected with this WH initiative left in disgust when they discovered how political it was; also it has been show to be biased toward conservative Christian faith based groups and to exclude all other applications)

The conservative jurists who have won the day in most cases included the usual suspects — Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy. So much for the hope that Kennedy would be as moderate as former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in pivotal cases.

The liberal justices — who were outraged at the court’s far-right swing — were John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Breyer summed it up when he said: “It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much.”

And yet, it seems the old cliche that the Supreme Court reads the newspapers has hit home — at least when it comes to the shameful treatment and torture of detainees from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a surprise ruling, the court agreed to review whether Guantanamo Bay detainees can use federal courts to challenge their imprisonment, reversing a decision in April not to hear arguments in the case.

With the Roberts court in command apparently for a long time, all I can say is: “Cry the beloved country.”

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com

Copyright 2007 Hearst Newspapers