May 13, 2005


As I have stated on many occasions, I believe in the American public. That might sound strange coming from a Democrat whose party lost a Presidential election to an unpopular "war president" who clearly used fear, lies and deception to win re-election. With all their shortcomings, I believe the American people can recognize a hypocrite. We ought to make sure as many people as possible read this quote:
"The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know."

- Tom DeLay, 11/16/95

As we now know, Tom DeLay, whether guilty of a crime or not, is ABSOLUTELY GUILTY of everything he railed against in the above quote. The Gingrich-DeLay lead Republican revolution in the 1990's, billed Republican Congressmen and Senators as a posse of knights on white horses, galloping into Washington to bring responsible government back to the people.

As we know now, the "revolution" was nothing more than a well-funded, well-orchestrated power grab that has not helped the lifestyles of common Americans. It has been a movement that shored up corporate power, shifted tax burden to the middle class, and provided billions in corporate welfare to industries that don't need the help.

May 12, 2005

Conservatives Gouge Poor on Medicaid

As President Bush toured the country trying to hoodwink Americans into dismantling their own Social Security system, right-wing leaders in Congress took the lead in passing the president's other priority-a $10 billion cut to Medicaid, the nation's premiere health program for low-income Americans. State legislatures and governors have now outlined the grisly details of these cuts proposing significant out-of-pocket health expenses for the poor coupled with new limitations and restrictions on health services. Why are conservatives picking on the most vulnerable Americans?

*Somebody has to pay for conservatives' gross fiscal mismanagement and massive handouts to wealthy. Right-wing leaders have cleared the way for $106 billion in new tax cuts for those at the top, massive tax breaks for oil and gas interests, and a gaping giveaway for corporations to bring off-shore profits back into the states virtually tax free. Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) summed up these priorities quite appropriately: "[T]o balance the federal budget off the backs of the poorest people in the country is simply unacceptable. You don't pull feeding tubes from people. You don't pull the wheelchair out from under the child with muscular dystrophy."

**Conservatives count on the poor not voting, hoping no one will notice if they take away basic health care from a couple hundred thousand low-income Americans. Needing someway to cover their tracks on these misplaced priorities, our nation's conservative leaders decided to target the poor-the group with the least amount of political power and lobbying clout. Now, facing mounting budget pressures, states are reacting in harsh ways: Tennessee is planning to drop more than 300,000 people from its Medicaid rolls, while Missouri is cutting off 90,000. New Hampshire yesterday became the first state in the nation to make the poorest of the poor pay for their coverage. Expect more states to follow suit in the near future.

***Progressives want to improve Medicaid the right way by lowering drug prices, expanding small business health insurance pools, and containing costs without hurting beneficiaries. Plenty of options exist to improve Medicaid's performance without cost shifting to states or reducing coverage for people in need. A report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured reveals that all fifty states and the District of Columbia enacted some form of cost-containment measures in response to the rising cost of Medicaid in the past two years. Other progressive solutions include basic drug reimportation programs, multi-state prescription purchasing pools, and small business health insurance pools.

Read more about progressive solutions to Medicaid in American Progress' issue brief, "Improving Medicaid's Performance".

May 11, 2005

Smoking Gun Memo? Iraq Bombshell Goes Mostly Unreported in US Media

Journalists typically condemn attempts to force their colleagues to disclose anonymous sources, saying that subpoenaing reporters will discourage efforts to expose government wrongdoing. But such warnings seem like mere self-congratulation when clear evidence of wrongdoing emerges, with no anonymous sources required-- and major news outlets virtually ignore it.

A leaked document that appeared in a British newspaper offered clear new evidence that U.S. intelligence was shaped to support the drive for war. Though the information rocked British Prime Minister Tony Blair's re-election campaign when it was revealed, it has received little attention in the U.S. press.

The document, first revealed by the London Times (5/1/05), was the minutes of a July 23, 2002 meeting in Blair's office with the prime minister's close advisors. The meeting was held to discuss Bush administration policy on Iraq, and the likelihood that Britain would support a U.S. invasion of Iraq. "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided," the minutes state.

The minutes also recount a visit to Washington by Richard Dearlove, the head of the British intelligence service MI6: "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

That last sentence is striking, to say the least, suggesting that the policy of invading Iraq was determining what the Bush administration was presenting as "facts" derived from intelligence. But it has provoked little media follow-up in the United States. The most widely circulated story in the mainstream press came from the Knight Ridder wire service (5/6/05), which quoted an anonymous U.S. official saying the memo was ''an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during Dearlove's meetings in Washington.

Few other outlets have pursued the leaked memo's key charge that the "facts were being fixed around the policy." The New York Times (5/2/05) offered a passing mention, and the Charleston (W.V.) Gazette (5/5/05) wrote an editorial about the memo and the Iraq War. A columnist for the Cox News Service (5/8/05) also mentioned the memo, as did Molly Ivins (, 5/10/05). Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler (5/8/05) noted that Post readers had complained about the lack of reporting on the memo, but offered no explanation for why the paper virtually ignored the story.

In a brief segment on hot topics in the blogosphere (5/6/05), CNN correspondent Jackie Schechner reported that the memo was receiving attention on various websites, where bloggers were "wondering why it's not getting more coverage in the U.S. media." But acknowledging the lack of coverage hasn't prompted much CNN coverage; the network mentioned the memo in two earlier stories regarding its impact on Blair's political campaign (5/1/05, 5/2/05), and on May 7, a short CNN item reported that 90 Congressional Democrats sent a letter to the White House about the memo-- but neglected to mention the possible manipulation of intelligence that was mentioned in the memo and the Democrats' letter.

Salon columnist Joe Conason posed this question about the story:
"Are Americans so jaded about the deceptions perpetrated by our own government to lead us into war in Iraq that we are no longer interested in fresh and damning evidence of those lies? Or are the editors and producers who oversee the American news industry simply too timid to report that proof on the evening broadcasts and front pages?"

As far as the media are concerned, the answer to Conason's second question would seem to be yes. A May 8 New York Times news article asserted that "critics who accused the Bush administration of improperly using political influence to shape intelligence assessments have, for the most part, failed to make the charge stick." It's hard for charges to stick when major media are determined to ignore the evidence behind them.

May 08, 2005

Don't Support Bush? Get Out Of My Church!

WAYNESVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Calling it a ''great misunderstanding,'' the pastor of a small church who led the charge to remove nine members for their political beliefs tried to welcome them back Sunday, but some insisted he must leave for the wounds to heal.

The Rev. Chan Chandler didn't directly address the controversy during the service at East Waynesville Baptist Church, but issued a statement afterward through his attorney saying the church does not care about its members' political affiliations.

''No one has ever been voted from the membership of this church due to an individual's support or lack of support for a political party or candidate,'' he said.

Nine members said they were ousted during a church gathering last week by about 40 others because they refused to support President Bush. They attended Sunday's service with their lawyer and many supporters.

Chandler noted their presence in his welcome to the congregation, saying, ''I'm glad to see you all here. ... We are here today to worship the Lord. I hope this is what you are here for.''

But Chandler's statement and his welcome didn't convince those members who were voted out that things would soon change, and some called for him to resign.

''This all started over politics and our right to vote for whoever we wanted to,'' said Thelma Lowe, who has been attending the church for 42 years. She and her husband Frank, a deacon at the church for 35 years, were among those voted out.

''Things will never be the same here until he leaves,'' she said.

Chandler, 33, has been at the church for less than three years.

The ousted members have said Chandler told them during last year's presidential campaign that anyone who planned to vote for Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry needed to leave the church in the mountain town about 125 miles northwest of Charlotte.

''He needs to leave,'' said Marlene Casey, 42, a lifelong member. ''A lot of blood, sweat and tears have been shed by the people he told to leave.''

Added Lewis Inman, a deacon at the church who said he was voted out Monday: ''He could have apologized and made everything right. He's not man enough.''

Chandler invited all church members to attend a business meeting on Tuesday. ''This should all be cleared up by the end of the week,'' he said in an interview after the service.

Chandler said he and his wife have received calls from around the nation -- some of them threatening -- since his politics in the pulpit made national news.

His actions also drew criticism from other Baptist clergymen in the town.

''This is very disturbing,'' the Rev. Robert Prince III, who leads the congregation at the nearby First Baptist Church, said Saturday. ''I've been a pastor for more than 25 years, and I have never seen church members voted out for something like this.''

Some members of his congregation, however, voiced their support for Chandler on Sunday.

''He's a wonderful, good old country boy,'' Pam Serafin said as she walked into the church. ''There are always two sides to every story.''