Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Hacking Democracy" MUST WATCH

I saw this documentary late one night right after the 2006 Midterm Elections. The issue of electronic voting is quickly becoming an incredibly important issue for me. This video is just over half an hour. So, watch it at home one night or during your lunch hour. (We can't have you destroying American productivity!) But, PLEASE watch it. Don't just watch it, forward a link to this post to as many people as you can.

Here's the bottom line. We're giving tens of millions of dollars of contracts to Diebold without them even having to prove to people that they are safe from hackers. This documentary was earth shattering to me. If we can get a critical mass of people to care about this issue, we can do something about it!

We should start in Florida's 13th Congressional District, where Democrat Christine Jennings was screwed out of victory because Diebold's machines "lost" 18,000 votes in a race where she lost by less than 400.

Here is the video that you MUST watch:

State of the Union Thoughts

I intended to do a comprehensive analysis of the President's SOTU speech. But, yesterday was largely taken by job networking activities. So, I'm going to just give you a few of my immediate impressions.

First, this President must be spending sometime with Marion Barry (if you know what I mean) if he thinks he can balance the budget in five years, WITHOUT RAISING TAXES. This is impossible. He wants to escalate the War in Iraq as well as increasing the overall size of the military by nearly 100,000. Early analysis says that discretionary spending would have to be cut by forty percent in order to achieve a balanced budget. I would also like to point out that the Republican Congress and this Republican President have driven our Federal budget into the largest deficits in history. It is simply amazing that he could stand before the Congress and the country and propose such a ridiculous idea.

(Let's not also forget that in the same speech, he already proposed raising taxes on employees who are provided great health plans by their employers. Read: Unions)

On a related point, others have correctly pointed out that the War(s) that we are engaged in presently is the only time in history that the President has not asked the American people to make a sacrifice to fund the War. This is particularly amazing to me because when you point out the fiscal disaster created by Republicans, they point to the War on Terror as the reason. However, instead of following historic precedent and raising the funds for a War, they cut taxes. Of course nearly 90% of their taxcuts went to the wealthiest 1% of our citizens.

So, when the President presents his budget to Congress, let's be wary of how the heck he's going to achieve balance in five years without gutting spending on domestic issues like education and healthcare.

Another point that really got me was his proposal to end earmarks. Thanks, Mr. President, but Speaker Pelosi already beat you to the point. By a couple of months. By the way, has anyone remembered that the Democrats are stuck passing LAST YEAR'S appropriations bills because the Republicans don't know how to govern?

And on Iraq. Jeez. This President is seriously delusional when it comes to Iraq. I'll leave it at that.

Below, I'm posting a response from one of my new favorite Members of Congress, Rep. Louise Slaughter, Chairwoman of the Rules Committee. You've got to love that Southern Accent from a NY Congresswoman!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Real State of the Union

It's just after midnight. I've been spending time reading over the President's speech, listening to commentary, and listening to the ideas of fellow bloggers. Throughout tomorrow, I'll take different parts of the President's speech and tell you why his ideas are dumb, recycled, and generally bad for the country.

In the meantime, I'm pasting below the Democratic response to the President's version of the State of our Union. It's given by newly elected Virginia Senator Jim Webb. I understand he wrote the speech himself. It's well done. Chris Matthews said on MSNBC that it is one of the few instances in history in which the Response to the State of the Union was better than the President's speech. I mean, it's so good, that people are starting to chant 'Webb for Prez'!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pull out the Flip Flops for McCain

John McCain is all over the place on the War in Iraq. Take a moment to visit ThinkProgress, which is the blog of the Center for American Progress. They have a scoop on an article to be published tomorrow in a new Capitol Hill newspaper, in which McCain blasts Cheney over Iraq strategy.

Basically, McCain was the original supporter of escalating the war in Iraq, once proposing many more troops than the 21,500 being deployed. Now, as the popularity of the war reaches drastic new lows, McCain is changing his position quicker than Cheney returns calls to oil execs. The Arizona Senator knows there is no viable exit strategy in Iraq and is making early moves to distance himself so it doesn't doom his nascent Presidential bid.

He had a dismal performance on Meet the Press yesterday. I'm a clip of the interview below. Even in his remarks yesterday, he is praising the escalation and questioning those who don't. Yet, his comments attacking Cheney is all about his mishandling of the war. Would the real John McCain please stand up?

On a separate issue, this video clip is directly responding to an add that MoveOn is running in Iowa and NH. That ad is a part of the video clip. In his response, McCain slams 527's and claims to have tried to get rid of them. 527's did not exist until the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act became law in 2002. From the Washington Post on April 6, 2006:

The 527 committees, named for a section of the tax law, are tax-exempt rganizations that use voter mobilization and issue-based ads to influence federal elections. They grew in importance after the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law barred federal candidates and national parties from accepting unlimited donations from individuals, unions and corporations.

There was an effort to pretty much repeal the major provisions of McCain-Feingold:

The House approved campaign finance legislation last night that would benefit Republicans by placing strict caps on contributions to nonprofit committees that spent heavily in the last election while removing limits on political parties' spending coordinated with candidates.

The bill passed 218 to 209 in a virtual party-line vote.

Lifting party spending limits would aid Republican candidates because the GOP has consistently raised far more money than the Democratic Party. Similarly, barring "527" committees from accepting large unregulated contributions known as "soft money" would disadvantage Democrats, whose candidates received a disproportionate share of the $424 million spent by nonprofit committees in 2003-2004.

So, yes, they tried to get rid of 527's. But, at the same time, they tried to repeal the law banning unlimited contributions to the National Parties. What a crock.

Yet another flip flop for Senator McCain. This guy must be losing it.

FBI: We should have done more on Foley

Really? No kidding. But then again, hindsight is 20/20. And to be fair, they weren't the first folks to flub the whole thing.

Here's a link to the ABC News Blotter where they once again claim to have broken the story. But, we all know now that they didn't. In fact, they sat on the emails for months doing nothing about it. They probably would have sat on it indefinitely had they not seen Wonkette slamming the emails I posted on Stop Sex Predators.

At least the Inspector General of the FBI has acknowledged the mishandling of the emails that were submitted to them by CREW, but it's half-hearted.

While finding no official misconduct on the part of FBI officials, the inspector general said "the e-mails provided enough troubling indications on their face" to have warranted follow-up steps.

Instead, the inspector general found, the supervisory agent decided there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and "placed the e-mails in her in box and took no further action" even though she found the e-mails "odd."

What I really wonder is if the FBI agent backed off from looking further into the emails because they were from a Congressman. That is a question that should have been answered in the IG's report.

I know from my own experience that the main stream media held the bar higher because Foley was a member of Congress. They seemed to be looking for a "smoking gun." ABC News didn't cover the original emails on their nightly news, only their website. Once they got the explicit instant messages, they finally reported widely on the scandal. That is all a part of the 'Culture of Washington' that I have talked about so much. For the media, it's mostly the 'CYA' mode of operation.

It's a good thing the blogosphere is around to be the true "fourth estate" of modern media.