Friday, March 29, 2013

Obama Refuses to Comment on We the People Petiton

Here is the response I received today from the Obama White House regarding 501c Non-Profits illegally participating in political campaigns.

Why We Can't Comment on Your Petition Regarding 501(c) Statuses

Thank you for signing the petition "Enforce the tax code, and strip violating religious institutions of their tax exempt 501(c) status." We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on

The We the People Terms of Participation explain that "the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government."

The Internal Revenue Service is charged with enforcing federal tax laws, and in accordance with the Terms of Participation, we cannot comment on the tax enforcement issue raised in this set of petitions. We note that the IRS administers its own procedures for receiving complaints from the public about tax-exempt organizations, and more information about how to pursue that process is available here.

This petition was put forth by a group of concerned citizens who were tired of right wing churches flouting the prohibition on using church donations to finance attack ads and political campaigns. The law says they are prohibited from endorsing a particular party or candidate.

There is however a more import but unmentioned aspect of this, 501c charities are the way both political parties launder billions in campaign contributions. PAC's are 501c's. They do this by claiming they are a public interest group, and that they are just trying to educate the voters. This is how people like the Koch brothers can get around the law and donate $100 million while you are restricted to $2,600.

So again we have another case, in an ever increasing line of people who are above the law under an Obama Presidency. America was supposed to be a land of laws, not men. This is clearly nothing but a distant memory and a cruel hoax on the average person who is ALWAYS subject to the law.

Arianna On Whether Obama Has Saved Or Betrayed Progressive Politics In America

Arianna Huffington recently was asked at the Aspen Ideas Festival about weather President has saved or betrayed Progressive Politics in America, this is her response:
Obama has the capacity to turn politics into an emotional creature -- the politics of the common good are shifting. Poll numbers back this up, but despite Obama's soaring speeches, the action hasn't followed. And all this is happening in the context of a collapsing American dream... Obama is demonstrating "the fierce urgency of later" when we need "the fierce urgency of now." We need emphasis on job creation, upward mobility (of which the U.S. is #10 globally -- behind France).
I couldn't agree more. I enthusiastically voted for President Obama in 2008, and in 2012 I held my nose and voted for the lesser evil. Don't misunderstand he has done some great things, like kick start alternative energy and change the national tone. But for every positive there is an HSBC or a Monsanto Protection Law.

Watch the video of the conference:


Thursday, March 28, 2013

List of Monsanto Lobbyists Who Held Gov Positions in 2012

Big money interests move in and out of government to screw the average person.
Political Revolving Door

In politics, the "revolving door" is the movement of personnel between roles as legislators and regulators and the industries affected by the legislation and regulation.

In some cases the roles are performed in sequence but in certain circumstances may be performed at the same time. Political analysts claim that an unhealthy relationship can develop between the private sector and government, based on the granting of reciprocated privileges to the detriment of the nation and can lead to regulatory capture.

Below is list of Monsanto Lobbyists and actual Monsanto employees who recently held high level positions in either Congress, the White House, or in the Dept of Agriculture in 2012. All information was obtained from Most of the names in the list held more than one position, for the sake of space only the most relevant positions are listed. The truly sad part about this list is that influence peddling and bribery cuts across both parties, but the DNC accounts for the majority.



Lobbying Firm

Brian Pomper International Trade Counsel for Senators Diane Finestein and Max Baucus Akin, Gump et al [Lobbyist for Monsanto]
Manus Cooney Chief Counsel Senate Judiciary Cmte. American Continental Group [Lobbyist for Monsanto]
Trista Roehl Legal advisor to  Reps Pat Toomey, Chris Cox, and John Shadegg American Continental Group [Lobbyist for Monsanto]
Karen Stone Legal Directo Rep Dina Titue American Continental Group [Lobbyist for Monsanto]
Melissa Agustin Director of Agricultural Affairs, Executive Office Monsanto
Micheal Holland Counsel, Rep. Devin Nunes (CA-21), (2009-2011) Monsanto
Scott Kuschmider Minority Professional Staff, House Committee Monsanto
Jeremy Stump Deputy Chief of Staff, USDA Monsanto
Benjamin Noble Legal Advisor to  Senators  Blanche Lincoln and Dale Bumpers Noble Strategies [Lobbyist for Monsanto]
Fitzhugh Elder Legislative Assistant - Senator Bennett Russel Group [Lobbyist for Monsanto]
Randall Russell Advisor to Joe Biden Russel Group [Lobbyist for Monsanto]
Jan Fowler Legislative Assistant - Senator Voinovich and Rep McCrey Russel Group [Lobbyist for Monsanto]
Gregory Nickerson Chief of Staff to Senator Kent Conrad Washington Tax Group [Lobbyist for Monsanto]

The Who, What, and Why of the Monsanto Protection Bill

Monsanto's best friend, Claire McCaskill

Top Candidate Recipients in 2011-2012 for Monsanto Money

Claire McCaskill (D-MO) $32,524
Barack Obama (D) $23,725
Roy Blunt (R-MO) $20,000
Ann L. Wagner (R-MO) $18,500
Mike Simpson (R-ID) $13,750

The Monsanto Protection Bill originated in the Senate so it's a pretty safe bet it was Claire McCaskill who added it to the so-called emergency spending bill. It's no accident that she was the top recipient of money from them in the 2011-2012 election period. We can't say 100% for certain because for some strange reason it was top secret. Gee, can you imagine that? But there is an old saying, "Follow the Money".

A number of President Obama's apologists in the blogosphere have said things like 'he had no choice, it was part of spending bill'. Wrong, 100% wrong.

Do you think it is any accident that he is the number two recipient of campaign donations from Monsanto? If President Obama really had any problems with the bill, which gives Monsanto unlimited legal immunity against all lawsuits both criminal and civil, he could have called his good friend Claire McCaskill and said "Pull it". If Claire persisted, he could then said "I will veto it". So please, bloggers, stop making excuses for Obama as he sells out yet another time. It's long past time to recognize President Obama isn't the progressive he pretends to be.

One final note, I am 100% for science, and Monsanto has done some great things in improving crop yields, but there is no valid reason to give them blanket immunity. I consider myself a good person, but I would hardly expect to have blanket immunity if I got drunk and drove on a school playground and killed 20 kids. I am not saying Monsanto has done anything wrong [besides their dubious claims to gene patients], but say their latest genetically modified corn killed 10,000 people because of food allergens that were never there before? What if that gene contaminated our whole food supply? Should we just say "whoopsie"? Hell no. They need to be held to the same standard as anyone else who can't afford to bribe congress and the president.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Top Tax Rates vs Economic Growth in US

Average yearly, top-end tax rates in America, by decade:

1950s: 90.54%
1960s: 80.33%
1970s: 70.18%
1980s: 48.45%
1990s: 36.72%
2000s: 36.23%
2010s: 35.00%

Annualized, real, per-capita GDP growth in America, by decade:

1950s: 2.76%
1960s: 3.01%
1970s: 1.68%
1980s: 1.56%
1990s: 1.57%
2000s: 0.35%
2010s: 0.60%

Source: IRS, Bureau of Economic Analysis (www.bea.go­v)
*While one can't make the affirmation that higher tax rates on the wealthy would help the economy, you can certainly make the claim they didn't hurt it as regressives typically claim

Friday, March 22, 2013

Video: Is BitCoin the Currency of the Future?

Bitcoin is a currency, a protocol, and a software that enables Instant peer to peer transactions Worldwide payments Low or zero processing fees And much more! Bitcoin uses peer to peer technology to operate with no central authority; managing transactions and issuing Bitcoins are carried out collectively by the network. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment systems.

Learn more:

The True Cost of War to US in Trade-Offs

If I had a trillion dollars would I use it kill people or help them?
Empty pockets to pay for war profiteering.

Taxpayers in the USA paid $111.1 billion for Afghanistan war spending for FY2012. 

For the same amount of money, the following could be provided:

51.1 million Annual Energy Costs for a Household for One Year


56.9 million Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year


1.6 million Elementary School Teachers for One Year


10.7 million Fair Market Rent for One Bedroom Apartment for One Year


14.6 million Head Start Slots for Children for One Year


47.9 million Households Converted to All Solar Energy for One Year


100.6 million Households Converted to All Wind Energy for One Year


14.2 million Military Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care for One Year


53.1 million One Year Worth of Groceries for an Individual


22.8 million People Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year


14.1 million Scholarships for University Students for One Year


20.0 million Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Hampshire Calls for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizen's United

On March 20, 2013, by a vote of 189-139, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's democracy destroying Citizens United ruling and make clear that corporations are not people [my friend] with constitutional rights. Ten Republican legislators even joined in voting in favor of the resolution.
Free Speech For People and Public Citizen partnered together on this with our allies in New Hampshire, including many great legislators who led the floor fight for yesterday's victory.

This vote follows the passage two weeks ago in Washington State's House of Representatives of a similar resolution, which is now moving forward in the state senate there. Such resolutions are advancing in many other states, including Maine, Nevada, and West Virginia.

For more info:

Interview: Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young Explains Decision to End His Life

Transcript from Democracy Now:

Exclusive: Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young Explains Decision to End His Life

In the week marking the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we spend the hour looking at the remarkable life and imminent death of Iraq War veteran Tomas Young. Citing his overwhelming physical pain from wounds that left him paralyzed in Iraq, Young recently announced he has decided to end his life by discontinuing his medicine and nourishment, which comes in the form of liquid through a feeding tube. Young joins to explain his decision from his home in Kansas City, along with his wife Claudia Cuellar. We’re also joined by Phil Donahue, the legendary TV talk show host, whose 2007 documentary, "Body of War," follows Tomas’ rehabilitation and his political awakening to become one of the most prominent antiwar U.S. veterans speaking out against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. "I am, on one hand, sick and tired of being sick and tired," Young says. "And on the other, I don’t want to watch my body waste away." Donahue calls Tomas’ announcement "a very unusual act of moral courage. He wants people to see this, because he came home from the most sanitized war of my lifetime. We don’t see this. But less than 5 percent of us, maybe 1 percent ... have made a personal sacrifice for this war. And Tomas is one of them." [includes rush transcript]

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Today, in a Democracy Now! special on this week’s 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we spend the hour looking at the remarkable life and imminent death of one Iraq veteran: 33-year-old Tomas Young. He recently announced he’s decided to end his life by discontinuing his nourishment, which comes in the form of liquid through a feeding tube.

Tomas Young’s tragedy goes back to 2001. Just two days after the 9/11 attacks, he signed off—he signed up for the military after hearing President Bush’s Ground Zero pledge to go after those responsible. He wanted to deploy to Afghanistan, but instead he was sent to Iraq. On the fifth day into his deployment in Iraq, on April 4th, 2004, Tomas’s unit came under fire in Sadr City. He was left paralyzed, never to walk again. Released from medical care, he returned home to become an active member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

AMY GOODMAN: He was wounded on the same day that Cindy Sheehan’s son, Casey Sheehan, was killed, April 4th, 2004. Tomas Young’s story was the subject of the award-winning documentary Body of War, made by the legendary talk show host Phil Donahue and the filmmaker Ellen Spiro. The 2007 film follows Tomas’s rehabilitation, his struggles with his injuries, his political awakening to become one of the most prominent antiwar U.S. veterans of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The film includes a speech Tomas made in 2005 at the Lafayette Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, New York, about President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. His physical troubles were evident even then, as he repeatedly paused to put his head between his knees in his wheelchair.

TOMAS YOUNG: You’ll have to excuse me for a little bit. I get a little lightheaded every now and again, so hold on. I’d also like to—that during this speech, I may say the word "uh" a lot and stammer a little bit, so forgive me for sounding a bit presidential.

I called my recruiter on around September 13, 2001, when, if you all can remember, the president stood on the rubble with a bullhorn and said we were going to get the evil-doers that did this. And, oh, man, hold on a second; I’m starting to—thank you. Alright, let’s hope that’s a little better. But—and he led the rah-rah around the country and got everybody really excited, and I was excited. And I wanted to go to Afghanistan and get the people that did this to us. But after I joined the Army, it became clearer and clearer to me that we weren’t going to go to Afghanistan, that we were going to go to Iraq.

And more and more, it began to feel—with statements like George Bush saying that he sought the approval of a higher father than his own and things like that, it really concerned me that President Bush was trying to use Jesus Christ as an advocate for the war, but I always remembered, at least from the Bible that I read, Jesus Christ was always about peaceful things and love and "whatsoever you do unto the least, my brother, you do unto me." And it just shocks me that a man who tries to live his life by such devout Christian philosophies seems to skew so much on this one issue.

I don’t really—I have to—excuse me, again. Sorry, it’s a little hard to regulate my body temperature, and it is hot up here.

But I heard somebody once say that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. So just everybody keep together and stay strong, and one day we’ll get what we need to get done. And thank you all for waiting, and I hope I didn’t disappoint.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Tomas Young speaking in December 2005, captured in the film Body of War, a documentary by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue.

Well, in early February of this year, Tomas stunned an audience gathered to watch the film when he joined them via Skype and made this announcement. You’ll need to listen closely.

TOMAS YOUNG: In July of last year, I began to experience sharp pains in my abdomen. And I went to the VA, and they treated me like I was a second-class citizen, a junkie looking for pain medicines just to get high, even though I was genuinely in pain. I went to a private hospital, was treated much better. They suggested a colostomy, where they would remove my colon. I thought that would reduce the pain. It did for a few days, but the pain came rocketing back. And I decided to go on hospice care, where I have a pump that provides the same IV medications the hospital provided. And after my one-year anniversary with my wife, I will begin to wean myself off of food and one day go away.

AMY GOODMAN: "And one day go away." Iraq War veteran Tomas Young. At the age of 33, he has said he has decided to end his life.

This week he published his letter titled "The Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran." In it, Tomas writes, quote, "You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole," he wrote.

Well, for more, we’re going right now to Kansas City, where Tomas Young joins us from his home along with his wife Claudia Cuellar. Here in New York, we’re joined by Phil Donahue, longtime friend of Tomas. He’s co-director of Body of War, that documentary that came out in 2007. Phil Donahue is one of the best-known talk show hosts in U.S. television history, his show on the air for more than 29 years. In 2002, he returned to the airwaves, but he was fired in 2003 on the eve of the war by MSNBC because, well, coming out in a secret memo from NBC later, it said there were too many antiwar voices on the air.

We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Tomas, we thank you so much for being with us. We know this is very difficult for you. But if you could tell our audience why you have come to this decision to end your life, what has the journey been, most recently, with you and your wife Claudia?

TOMAS YOUNG: Well, since about two thousand—or, July of last year, I started experiencing sharp pain in my stomach. And we would go to the VA, and the problem would get fixed, in their eyes, and everything was fine, and they’d send me home. And one time I was there for two weeks, and they gave me what’s called a gastric lavage, which goes through your nose and down your throat into your stomach. And this alone dries your mouth out very fast. The point of this regime is to suck up any bad things in the stomach, but it also sucks up anything you drink while the tube is in there. And so, I would drink, because I had an extremely dry mouth, and the feel of something cold going down your throat is just refreshing.

And so, the next day, a doctor came in, and I asked, "The doctor from last night said I could get it taken out this morning." And they looked at the cup where the suction goes to and saw that it was pretty full, because I had drank a lot of fluid that night. And so, the doctor said, "Oh, no, we have keep it in until tomorrow night." And so, that was when I called my wife and said, "I’m going AMA, against medical advice, so come and get me." So we left the hospital.

Two days later, I experienced some chest pains, like a gas bubble in my chest. And I went to the local private hospital here, St. Luke’s North, and they not only fixed the pain in my chest problem, they also immediately found out what was going on in my stomach. And they took out my colon and gave me a colostomy bag, and I figured, great, the pain will go way now, because—but—and for a few days, that was the case. But pretty soon, it came back with a vengeance, and I had to go to the hospital again. And nobody could figure out why I was in pain. And so, I went into hospice care, and they gave me a pain pump, which delivers the IV medication to me directly. And that was about two months ago. And that, in itself, has been a good thing.

But—and back to your original question, the reason I decided to do this now is I am, on one hand, sick and tired of being sick and tired, and on the other hand, I don’t want to watch my body waste away.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Phil Donahue, the—his story is like many, many veterans who were severely injured, come back from the war, and yet our country still has not even dealt with the reality of the responsibility of those who took us to war. You’ve been a friend of Tomas now for years, since making the film. Your reaction to his decision and to the lack of accountability still in our country for what happened in Iraq?

PHIL DONAHUE: I understand his decision. So does Claudia. The people closest to him understand his position. Tomas told me—this is a couple years ago, after the embolism, which, by the way, he presented at the emergency room with a swollen arm, and it hurt, and they gave him pain pills, and the next morning he was found in a coma in bed. And now, he’s not only a paraplegic, he can’t hold silverware. Tomas has to be fed. When he and Claudia were able to go out, they would go to a restaurant, and they’d find—she would find a corner where she could feed him without being stared at.

What you see in this story is a drama that is playing itself out behind the closed doors of literally thousands of homes in this country, homes occupied by young men and women who have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with heinous injuries. We’ve had faces blown off. And as you know, modern medicine, triage, more and more of these people are surviving. And sadly, Tomas is not alone in his decision to end his life.

What’s remarkable about Tomas is that he wants—he wants his life to be a statement. He wants to make a point. And I admire him so much for—this is a very unusual act of moral courage. He wants people to see this, because he came home from the most sanitized war of my lifetime. We don’t see this. But less than 5 percent of us, maybe 1 percent—I should know—have made a personal sacrifice for this war. And Tomas is one of them. And his colleagues, who are similarly situated, are hidden. They are not seen. And we couldn’t take pictures of the coffins. And what this means is that it’s going to be easier to go into another war.

AMY GOODMAN: Claudia Cuellar, you married Tomas last year. You’ve been together for five years. You’ve been at his side. Your feelings right now about Tomas’s decision?

CLAUDIA CUELLAR: It’s really emotional, and it’s overwhelming. But it is so—it is so hard to describe in words how difficult it is to watch the person you most love in the world suffer immeasurably all day, every day. During the time we were together the first, you know, three, three-and-a-half years, we lived with a certain amount of suffering that we accepted. But last year when the medical problem started beginning and we had to be in the hospital the whole time, then we kind of crossed a threshold where he was suffering so much more than he was able to live or enjoy anything about his life, so we gave the ostomy surgery a shot. We considered hospice last fall. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Where is the VA in all of this?

CLAUDIA CUELLAR: —we thought the surgery would fix it.

TOMAS YOUNG: The VA, when I went to them and I had to have the colon removed, the GI team at the Kansas City VA, which is one of the more highly regarded in the country, said they will only—they’ve only done colon removal on cancer patients, never a spinal cord injury patient. So they transferred me to St. Louis, which is the spinal cord-based hospital. It’s the nearest spinal cord facility run by the VA. We called them. They said they couldn’t get us in for a while, right?

CLAUDIA CUELLAR: Yeah, there weren’t beds available. And since Tomas had taken himself out of the VA against medical advice because of the way he was treated, they knew him as someone that was going to leave, and they—they just were reluctant to offer a bed, quite frankly.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to a break, and then we’re going to come back and also talk about the letter you have written, Tomas, the letter that you’ve written to, well, former President Bush and Vice President Cheney. We’re speaking with Tomas Young. He says he has decided to end his life in May or early June, end the nourishment he’s taking through a tube and his medications. Claudia Cuellar is at his side, as she has been for the last five years. They’re at their home in Kansas City. And in studio with us is legendary talk show host Phil Donahue, who did a film about Tomas, oh, six years ago called Body of War, when he returned from Iraq. He was shot five days after coming to Iraq in Sadr City. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: Eddie Vedder singing "No More," which he wrote for Tomas and for the film Body of War about Tomas Young. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

The 2007 documentary Body of War, directed by Phil Donahue, who is here with us today, and the filmmaker Ellen Spiro, tells the story of Tomas Young, beginning with a shot of Tomas going about the daily ordeal of dressing himself, made extremely difficult by his paralysis caused by a gunshot to the spine in Sadr City, Iraq, April 4th, 2004. Interposed are the voices of the lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, who voted for the Iraq War in October 2002, including Senators Schumer and McCain, Ensign and Hillary Clinton. They’re followed by one of the few congressional dissenters who stood up to the Bush White House: the late Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. But the film opens with the opening bars of the song "No More" by the musician Eddie Vedder, a song he wrote for Tomas Young.

EDDIE VEDDER: [singing “No More”]
I speak for a man who gave for this land,
took a bullet in the back for his pay,
spilled his blood in the dirt and the dust,
and he’s come back to say
that what he has seen is hard to believe,
and it does no good to just pray.
He asks of us to stand,
and we must end this war today.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: Now, Mr. President, today we’re faced with the most solemn decision a lawmaker can make: whether or not to authorize the use of military force.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Voting for a course of action that will send young Americans off to fight and die for their country is the most solemn responsibility every member of this Congress will undertake.

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN: We need to approach this issue as if we are sending our very own children to war.

REP. DICK ARMEY: When he puts on that uniform, he’s my baby, and I have fear.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: This is probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

REP. TOM LANTOS: The great debate we begin today represents the opening act of a drama that promises to define the 21st century.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: My hands tremble, but my heart still throbs. I read this quote: "Naturally, the common people don’t want war. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country." Hermann Goering, president of Reichstag, Nazi Parliament, 1934.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was a clip from Body of War, the late West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. Several years ago, Tomas Young met Byrd of West Virginia, one of the lone voices in the U.S. Senate who took a stand against the decision to invade Iraq. This is a clip of Robert Byrd during that meeting. It’s from the same film, Body of War.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: This will be a blot on the Congress and the chief executive of the United States forever, for having cast a political vote to send our men and women to war and to possible death in a country that never attacked us, a country that never invaded us, a country that did not—I say did not—then and does not now constitute a threat to my country.

TOMAS YOUNG: Absolutely.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: I’ve been in this Senate now—I’m in my 48th year. I have cast over 17,000 roll call votes—


SEN. ROBERT BYRD: —in this 48 years. And that was the most important vote I have ever cast. I stood, and 22 other senators stood with me: no, we will not turn this power to declare war, which the Constitution says Congress shall have the power to declare war, Article I—

TOMAS YOUNG: Absolutely.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: —Section 8. So that was no problem to me. I stood by the Constitution. I’m proud of it. And there were 23 of us. The immortal 23, I often refer to it in that way.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Robert Byrd went on to read the names of the 23 senators who voted against the war, with the help of Tomas Young.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: I’m going to read you the names of these—

TOMAS YOUNG: The immortal 23?

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: The immortal 23. Alright, here we are. H.J. Res. 114, that’s the resolution.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Senators voting in the negative.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Here are the 23: Akaka.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Akaka, no.


SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Bingaman, no.


SENATE ROLL CALL: Mrs. Boxer, no.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Byrd. B-Y-R-D, right there.


SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Chafee, Republican.

TOMAS YOUNG: He’s a good man.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Chafee, no.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: He stood with us. Conrad.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Conrad, no.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: What’s that one?

TOMAS YOUNG: Look like Jon Corzine.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Corzine, yeah.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Corzine, no.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: I don’t have my glasses on. What’s that one there?


SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Dayton, yeah. God bless him. He’s leaving us after this year.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Dayton, no.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Who’s that?

TOMAS YOUNG: That’s Senator Durbin.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Durbin. This one?

TOMAS YOUNG: Senator Feingold.


TOMAS YOUNG: That would be Bob Graham from Florida, I think, Senator.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Yes, it would be.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Durbin, no. Mr. Feingold, no. Mr. Graham of Florida, no.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: And we go all the way down here to Daniel Inouye.


SEN. ROBERT BYRD: There’s a man who has really sacrificed. He gave his arm.

TOMAS YOUNG: From Hawaii, yeah.


SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Yes, sir. He’s a real hero.

TOMAS YOUNG: Here’s another one of my heroes.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Jim Jeffords.

TOMAS YOUNG: Senator Jeffords, the one that switched sides of the aisle.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: He’s one of my heroes, too.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Jeffords, no.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Kennedy, Leahy and Levin.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Levin, no, no, no.


SENATE ROLL CALL: Ms. Mikulski, no.



SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Patty Murray.


SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Reed from Rhode Island, Sarbanes.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Reed of Rhode Island, no. Mr. Sarbanes, no.

TOMAS YOUNG: Stabenow.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Yeah, Debbie Stabenow.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Ms. Stabenow, no.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Wellstone, that’s the man who gave his life shortly thereafter.

TOMAS YOUNG: And then Wyden.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: And Wyden. He’s still here.

SENATE ROLL CALL: Mr. Wellstone, no. Mr. Wyden, no.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Twenty-three. Seventy-seven to 23. The immortal 23. Our founders would be so proud. Thank you for your service. Man, you’ve made a great sacrifice. You served your country well.

TOMAS YOUNG: As have you, sir.

SEN. ROBERT BYRD: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: The late West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd meeting with Tomas Young, as they read the list, as they said, of the immortal 23. Tomas, as you look at this film, Body of War, about you, your body of war, talk about that meeting with Senator Byrd and what it meant to you.

TOMAS YOUNG: Well, the meeting with Senator Byrd, I was quite excited about, because I had known he was the rock star on C-SPAN to speak up, downplaying all the threats that Iraq posed and saying it was a dangerous thing to give congressional powers over to this one man. And I admired him. And when I rolled into his office, he treated me like I was some sort of long-lost grandchild. And we went and sat next to his desk, and we talked for a few minutes. And then he had the copy of the bill framed. And that was when we started reading off the names. And then, the final scene of him and I is, we’re walking down the hall of—I think it was the Rayburn Building, and I say—he’s on a cane, and I say, "Well, it looks like we both got some mobility issues." And it was just truly a great experience.

And I was very sad to see him go, because we, as Democrats, lost not only Ted Kennedy, but Robert Byrd, two of the fiercest antiwar senators around. And, I mean, it was just—first of all, being a kid that was born into a level just above poverty and to being sitting in the office of a U.S. senator was mind-blowing. If you had told me when I was eight years old that some day I would be meeting a sitting senator, I wouldn’t have believed you. So it was just—it was surreal and real at the same time.

10 Years Later the US has left Iraq a Mecca for Birth Defects from Deliberate Use of Radioactive Weapons


Transcript from Democracy Now: 

Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement & Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers

In part two of our interview, Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail discusses how the U.S. invasion of Iraq has left behind a legacy of cancer and birth defects suspected of being caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus. Noting the birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, Jamail says: "They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to ... What this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II." Jamail has also reported on the refugee crisis of more than one million displaced Iraqis still inside the country, who are struggling to survive without government aid, a majority of them living in Baghdad. Click here to watch part 1 of the interview. [includes rush transcript]

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Dahr Jamail, investigative journalist who has just returned from Iraq, one of a handful of unembedded journalists who extensively covered the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, has spent a year reporting from Iraq between 2003 and the 10th anniversary of the war. His most recent stories for Al Jazeera include "Maliki’s Iraq: Rape, Executions and Torture" and "Iraq: War’s Legacy of Cancer." Nermeen?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dahr Jamail, one of the things that you mention in your recent reports is that the death penalty was reinstated in Iraq following the U.S. invasion. It was reinstated in 2005. And now Iraq has among the highest rates of death sentences in the world? Is that right?

DAHR JAMAIL: That’s right. The U.N. special rapporteur covering this topic has called—actually over a year ago, called for the Maliki administration to cease and desist all executions that are planned, because there is no fair—no due process happening in Iraq. There’s no trials happening, basically kangaroo courts for some of those that are going to be executed and on death row. And absolutely, since the death penalty was reinstated, it’s just been a flood of executions, and the current number of known people that the government admits to on death row is 3,000 people. Sometimes we’re seeing as many as 12 to 20 executions on any given day. Non-Iraqi citizens have been executed, including people from Syria and Saudi Arabia. Women are being executed, as well as people who are under the age of 18. So, it’s clearly out of control. Human rights groups like Human Rights Watch, who I spoke with about this, have all called for a cessation of the ongoing executions that are happening, because, really, the Maliki government is just, you know, carrying these things out with impunity, so to speak.

And so, you know, I contacted someone within Iraq’s Ministry of Justice, and the spokesperson who basically said, "Look, we—if something happens in the United States, we see that there’s so much outcry. You know, like the crimes of 9/11, for example, there’s so much outcry, and people want to see people punished." And he said, "Why isn’t it the same for Iraq?" was his justification. And, in fact, he went on so far as to say, "We have a right to do this. And, in fact, I think that in order to bring more comfort to the families of the victims of crimes, we should have public hangings and public executions in Iraq."

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr, I wanted to ask you about the issue of depleted uranium. In 2004, a special investigation by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González of the New York Daily News found four of nine soldiers of the 442nd Military Police Company of the New York Army National Guard returning from Iraq tested positive for depleted uranium contamination. They were the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the Iraq conflict. One of the people affected was Sergeant Agustin Matos, who was deployed in Iraq with the 442nd Military Police. Speaking on Democracy Now!, he described his health problems.

SGT. AGUSTIN MATOS: I, myself, while I was out there, experienced a couple—a fever one night, unexplained. I was fine during the day, and then it just hit me. It just totally knocked me out. I was in bed. I couldn’t get out. I can’t remember exactly what the fevers were. But also I had—I was urinating blood while I was out there. It wasn’t good. It was just a place not to be when you were sick like that.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Sergeant Agustin Matos. What did you find as you returned to Iraq this last time, Dahr Jamail, about depleted uranium and its effect on Iraqis?

DAHR JAMAIL: Overall, the country has seen a massive increase in cancer rates from the 1991 Gulf War up to present, even according to official Iraqi government statistics. In 1991, for example, there were 40 registered cases of cancer out of 100,000 Iraqis. By 1995, four years after that war, that number had jumped to 800 out of 100,000 Iraqis. And then—by 2005, that number had doubled—

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr, I just want to say, as we show—

DAHR JAMAIL: —by 2005, that number had doubled—

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr, as we—as you speak, I just want to say we’re going to be showing images, and I want to warn our TV audience. For our radio listeners, if you want to go to the website, you’ll be able to see the kind of images that you captured, Dahr, when you were in Iraq. Go ahead. Keep saying what you were saying.

DAHR JAMAIL: The most recent statistic, I’ll end with, before I get into Fallujah. And what these images are showing is that in 2005 we saw 1,600 Iraqis with cancer out of 100,000, so a massive escalation that continues.

And going on to Fallujah, because I wrote about this a year ago, and then I returned to the city again this trip, we are seeing an absolute crisis of congenital malformations of newborn. There is one doctor, a pediatrician named Dr. Samira Alani, working on this crisis in the city. She’s the only person there registering cases. And she’s seeing horrific birth defects. I mean, these are extremely hard to look at. They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to, because of the amount of depleted uranium used by the U.S. military during both of their brutal attacks on the city of 2004, as well as other toxic munitions like white phosphorus, among other things.

And so, what this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the aftermath of—in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that were—that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II. So, Dr. Samira Alani actually visited with doctors in Japan, comparing statistics, and found that the amount of congenital malformations in Fallujah is 14 times greater than the same rate measured in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear bombings. These types of birth defects, she said—there are types of congenital malformations that she said they don’t even have medical terms for, that some of the things they’re seeing, they’ve never seen before. They’re not in any of the books or any of the scientific literature that they have access to. She said it’s common now in Fallujah for newborns to come out with massive multiple systemic defects, immune problems, massive central nervous system problems, massive heart problems, skeletal disorders, baby’s being born with two heads, babies being born with half of their internal organs outside of their bodies, cyclops babies literally with one eye—really, really, really horrific nightmarish types of birth defects. And it is ongoing.

And she—lastly, to really give you an idea of the scope of the problem, is that this is happening now at a massive rate. And she said her being the only person cataloging and registering cases, with no help from Baghdad, who is denying that there’s some sort of problem like this in Fallujah—she said that she could probably safely estimate that the number of cases, as high as the rate that she’s seeing, could probably be doubled, because so many people are having their babies at home and just taking care of it. You know, most of these babies are being born dead, and then they’re not reporting it whatsoever. So, this is an ongoing crisis. And the rate has not increased since last year, but it’s not decreased, either. It was still—when I talked to her last year, it was 14 times greater rate of malformations in newborns as compared to the aftermath areas of the nuclear bombings in Japan, and it’s the same when I spoke with her about this one week ago.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dahr Jamail, do you know, has any U.S. government official ever publicly acknowledged that the U.S. used depleted uranium in Iraq? And what does international law say about the use of depleted uranium in wartime?

DAHR JAMAIL: The Pentagon has admitted to using several hundred tons during the '91 Gulf War. It's hard to get official figures from them from this current—the most recent war, where certainly they’ve admitted that it was used, but we—you know, figures range anywhere from another couple of hundred tons upwards to 800 tons. There’s been no official statement, that I’ve seen anyway, from the Pentagon talking about the effects of these weapons either on the Iraqi civilian population or members of the U.S. military who use them, like the person in the clip that you played earlier.

International law is very clear about these types of weapons: Any weapon that is known to have a lasting negative impact on the civilian population in the general area where it is used is technically a banned or a highly restricted weapon. And in this case, these types of weapons should not be allowed to be used. As I reported back in 2004, when it came out that white phosphorus was indeed being used in Fallujah, that’s another restricted weapon where the Geneva Conventions state very clearly that if there are any—a possibility of any civilians in the area where it is going to be used, it is not allowed to be used. So there—the Geneva Conventions are very, very clear about these.

And this brings up a broader point about the war. As we heard in an earlier clip from Michael Moore talking about the illegality of the war, it’s good to hear this brought back into the discourse. Another individual, Robert Jensen, wrote an extremely poignant piece about the illegality of the war for Truthout just yesterday. And I think it’s important that we all remember on the anniversary that this was a war that violated the Geneva Convention. It is a crime against peace, according to the Nuremberg Principles. And all those responsible—Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz—all the architects of the war, if the U.S. was indeed a member of the International Criminal Court, should be handled accordingly. And I think it’s important that we remember the illegality of this and that this continues and that these crimes, started 10 years ago, that were perpetuated against the Iraqi people, that we see now most blatantly in these birth defects of these people in Fallujah, should never have even happened.

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr, finally, the issue of internally displaced people in Iraq. You have the Iraqi refugees. How many left the country? How many remain inside? And where are they inside Iraq?

DAHR JAMAIL: Well, at the height of the sectarian bloodletting in 2006, 2007, there were over four million refugees, roughly half of them in the country, half of them who had fled the country, largely to Syria and to Jordan. To this day, according to official Iraqi government statistics, there’s 1.1 million internally displaced persons in Iraq. The majority of those are in Baghdad. Most of them have fled from sectarian cleansings of the aforementioned years and from the mixed neighborhoods where they had used to live or the mixed villages, and into oftentimes primarily Sunni areas, seeking refuge.

So, they’re not getting really any help whatsoever from the government. They’re living in horrible situations. And it was really a poignant thing to witness, Amy, because despite these people living in really difficult conditions, oftentimes living amongst giant piles of garbage, you walk in, and as per Iraqi Arab custom, you’re offered a drink, although even in so many of these cases people only had literally a glass of water that they could—they could offer you, despite the fact that they’re living with no government assistance and help, and basically no hope for a future, of "Where are we going to go from here? How is the situation in any way going to improve for us?" when things look so bleak, with a government in gridlock, and it looking like we’re poised for another massive increase in sectarian violence.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Dahr, you were just in Iraq. Repeatedly on television, the corporate networks in the United States: "But the U.S. got rid of Saddam Hussein, who was a tyrant." What is the feeling of people on the ground in Iraq?

DAHR JAMAIL: Stunningly, as bad as things were under Saddam—and we have to keep in mind this perspective of Saddam in the wake of a brutal eight-year war with Iran and then the genocidal sanctions for 13 years, from 1991 up until the beginning of this invasion in March 2003—as bad as it was under Saddam, with the repression and the detentions and the torture and the killings, the overall feeling of Iraqis today, in Baghdad and other places in Iraq where I went this trip, was that things are much worse now. There’s less—far less security. You don’t really know where you can go and what you can do and know that you’re going to have any kind of safety. "Any time that we send our kids out to school now," is what I was told, "we don’t know for sure on any given day that they’re going to come back." And so, the prevailing sentiment is that, yes, it was good initially to have Saddam removed, but people are still concerned with basic things like security, an economy stable enough to be able to have a job to work, to have food and provide something for your family. And these things just no longer exist today in Iraq. So the prevailing sentiment is that it’s far worse now even than it was under Saddam Hussein.

AMY GOODMAN: Dahr, we want to thank you very much for joining us from the headquarters of Al Jazeera in Doha, Qatar. Dahr Jamail, an investigative journalist, unembedded reporter, extensively covered the war in Iraq. You can see his reports through the 10 years on our website, on our Iraq War timeline.

See the Victims of America's Immoral War Crimes in Iraq

Warning the pictures at the bottom of this post may cause you to cry.

I recently ran across a true Internet treasure, a blog called "Dispatches from the Underclass" run by Rania Khalek, whose work has also appeared in sites like The Nation, Truthout, Salon, AlterNet, Extra, and Citizen Radio. But what really grabbed me, or should I say shocked the living day lights out of me was her article 'Iraqi Birth Defects Worse than Hiroshima'. She hoped that people like George Bush and Dick Cheney would be forced to look at them the rest of their days.

I think every American also needs to see what this gang of monsters has done to the people of Iraq. Let me remind you President Bush and Dick Cheney said Saddam was an imminent threat to America and that he would give his weapons of mass destruction to Bin Laden. The truth 10 years later is:
  1. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Hans Blix and the UN inspectors had destroyed Saddam's poison gas bombs years ago. And there was never ever any nuclear weapons.
  2. Saddam hated Al Qaeda even more than we did.
  3. Al Qaeda in Iraq's only connection to Bin Laden is they both hated America. One is a terror group, the other just a bunch of people trying to kick out foreign invaders.
  4. [Secular] Iraq under Saddam while not perfect but was far better than the current sectarian theocracy we helped put in place.
  5. Despite wasting hundreds of billions in US taxpayer money, Iraq remains a largely broken and highly polluted country. Cancer and birth defects rates have soared from rare to 1 out 5 babies are born deformed in some areas.
The enormous rates of birth defects are no accident, it was a conscious decision by the US military to use things like Depleted Uranium bullets which spread radioactive dust all over areas like Fallujah. It is in fact against International law, which is why President Bush pulled the US out of the International Criminal Court agreements.

Article 35 of Protocol I, a 1977 amendment of the Geneva Conventions, prohibits any means or methods of warfare that cause superfluous injuries or unnecessary suffering. Article 35 also prohibits those nations from resorting to means of war that could inflict extensive and long-term damage on human health and the environment.

The impacts of Depleted Uranium in Iraq suggest that these weapons fall under Article 35 as being prohibited, by the very nature of their suspected long-lasting effects on human health and the environment.

These pictures speak for themselves about the long term damage.

Depressing American Fact

Source: Wikipedia
The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CISPA is BACK ! Your Urgent Action is Needed Now!

Worse than SOPA!
Worse than SOPA and PIPA put together!

Send Congress a message: our rights are not negotiable.

UPDATE! IDL launches Cat Signal today, over 30K sites participate. Press Release.

We need to send a message right now that voters will not tolerate an attack on our right to privacy.

If you live in one of the states below, can you pick up the phone right now and call the House Intelligence Committee? CISPA will be introduced on Wednesday. Call them now and leave a message so that when they get to work on Monday they know that voters don’t support this bill.

If you’re not sure what to say, use this script:

“I just learned that CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) has been reintroduced in the House. This bill would have given federal agencies unlimited access to virtually any of my personal data and online communication-- without a warrant. Our rights online are not negotiable. Please oppose any bill that would let companies share my personal information with the government.”

Devin Nunes - (202) 225-2523
Mike Thompson - (202) 225-3311
Adam Schiff - (202) 225-4176

Jeff Miller - (202) 225-4136
Thomas J Rooney - (202) 225-5792

Lynn Westmoreland - (202) 225-5901

Jan Schakowsky - (202) 225-2111
Luis Gutierrez - (202) 225-8203

Mike Pompeo - (202) 225-6216

Dutch Ruppersberger - 202-225-3061

Mike Rogers - (202) 225-4872

Michele Bachmann - (202) 225-2331

Joe Heck - (202) 225-3252

Frank LoBiondo - (202) 225-6572

Peter King - 202-225-7896

Jim Langevin - (202) 225-2735

Mac Thornberry - (202) 225-3706
Mike Conaway - (202) 225-3605

Additional Information

Want more information about CISPA? Want to do more to fight it? Check out these sites, made by our allies:
EFF - CISPA is Back: FAQ on What it is and Why it's Still Dangerous
CDT - CISPA Still Fundamentally Flawed
Avaaz - Save the Internet from the US
Free Press - Meet the New CISPA. Same as the Old CISPA.

Infographic: 10 Years Later - Cost of Iraq War

The Iraq war cost twice as much as the war in Afghanistan, and more than 16 times as much as the Bush administration predicted. But what did we pay for?
Economists expect the final tally to exceed $3 trillion.

The Iraq War began 10 years ago today - and has cost 16 times what the Bush administration predicted.

Learn more:

True Cost of Iraq War to America

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

George Orwell on What Journalism "Is" and "Isn't"

Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed, everything else is public relations.
America is sorely lacking in journalism.

Journalism: Wikileaks, The Guardian, ProPublica, Democracy Now, McClatchy Press

Not Journalism: Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, Most Local News, CNBC, Meet the Press

Monday, March 18, 2013

CNN Takes Side of Convicted Rape Gang over Victim

CNN once again proves why American mass media is such a pathetic joke and unworthy of even 1 viewer. In this video, the members of the Steubenville Rape Gang get a minor slap on the wrist and get charged as minors. The sentences ranged from 1 to 3 years in juvenile detention despite the fact most are 16 or 17 years old. In most large American cities it is very common for defendants as young as 12 years old to be charged as adults for similar offenses, so these rapists got off very easily. Despite the slap on the wrist charges CNN's heart bleeds for the rape gang members. Candy Crowley asked Paul Callan, a legal expert, to expound on the future of the leaders of the rape gang [my words not her's], stressing their youth and emotional vulnerability.

16 year olds just sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16 year olds...what's the lasting effect, though, on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape, essentially?

The most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law...That will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Employers, when looking up their background, will see that they're registered sex offenders. When they move into a new neighborhood and somebody goes on the Internet, where these things are posted, neighbors will know that they are registered sex offenders.

Not a word about the rape victim, nothing about how her life is forever scarred by being ganged raped and then being held up to ridicule on Facebook and Twitter for the world to see. Nope, CNN's concern is for the future of these rapists.  There are some legit concerns about the sex offender list, for example where an 18 year old boy is charged with statutory rape for having consensual sex with his 17 year old girl friend or someone being charged as a sex offender for getting caught taking a leak on the side of a building, but this isn't such a case.

This kind of reporting is more at home in the 1950's or in some Middle Eastern backwater than a modern democracy. If you would like to see an example of actual journalism done right, one need not look any further than Democracy Now. Not only did they have an interview with the Anonymous hacker [ X ] who made the damming videos public, they also interviewed the blogger [Andrea Goddard] who kept pushing as the local corrupt sheriff tried to sweep it under the rug. CNN talked to neither of these people. Instead their coverage was limited to courtroom video and a slew of celebrity Nancy Grace type legal analysts.

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