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Page   1 - Duke Energy Employee Advocate

Washington - Page 46

"A nation can survive its fools... but it cannot survive treason from within."
- Roman Senator Marcus Tullius Cicero - 42 B.C.
“They were right. They were right. They were right.” – William Pitt on the Iraq war protestors
"I enjoy killing Iraqis. I just feel rage, hate when I'm out there. I feel like I carry it all the
time. We talk about it. We all feel the same way." - Staff Sgt. William Deaton – L. A. Times

Cheney the Slob

Employee Advocate – – February 2, 2005

Cheney the Slob Attends Auschwitz Death Camp Ceremony

V. P. Dick Cheney has been drug through the press lately for being a slob. In January, he gathered with world leaders in Poland for a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. It was a function that could have been performed by a trained grapefruit, but Cheney blew it.

Robin Givhan wrote in the Washington Post: “The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower. Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood. It is embroidered with his name. It reminded one of the way in which children's clothes are inscribed with their names before they are sent away to camp. And indeed, the vice president looked like an awkward boy amid the well-dressed adults.”

Cheney wore a toboggan embroidered with the words "Staff 2001" and lace-up hiking boots. He really stood out, but not in a good way.

Perhaps too much was expected from Cheney, like dressing appropriately when representing the American people as a symbolic Head-of-State. But this is the same guy who cannot participate in a group picture taking session in the Senate without creating a disruption. Cheney cursed Senator Patrick Leahy for daring to say hello to him. Cheney later said on a news show that he didn't regret cursing the senator, and said he felt better after the incident. After the photo session blow-up, David Carle, spokesman for Sen. Leahy, said "It appears the vice president's previous calls for civility are now inoperative."

God, Justice Scalia, and Dick Cheney

Sleaze in the Capitol

New York Times – Editorial – January 2, 2005

One of the sorriest chapters of American history, the gulling of native Indian tribes, is continuing apace in Washington, where two Capitol insiders close to the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, are being investigated for allegedly fleecing six tribes of more than $80 million with inflated promises of V.I.P. access. The shameful dealings of Jack Abramoff, a Republican power lobbyist, and Michael Scanlon, Mr. DeLay's former spokesman, are coming to light as Senate and Justice Department investigators follow leads from nouveau-riche tribes whose casino profits spurred a new category of lucre and greed in the hyperkinetic world of Washington lobbying.

Even as the two fast-talking political brokers banked large profits for three years of minimal labor, it was found, they were exchanging gleeful private messages mocking tribal leaders as "morons," "troglodytes" and "monkeys." "I want all their MONEY!!!" Mr. Scanlon exuberantly e-mailed in the midst of one deal.

The outrageous affair includes evidence that the two sought to manipulate tribal elections to ensure their lobbying boondoggles, while dropping the names of Mr. DeLay and other leaders and urging tribal contributions to Republican political funds. In the latest high-roller abuses laid bare by The Washington Post, Mr. Abramoff was found to have prodded the tribes to pay for his luxury skyboxes at Washington sports arenas - yes, even at the home of the football Redskins - so he could impress Capitol politicians, staff members and fund-raisers with swank perches to push causes unrelated to tribal issues. A colleague pronounced Mr. Abramoff a master of schmooze, but sleaze seems a far better word.

While the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is continuing its inquiry, the Republican House leadership remains mute. The gulling of the casino tribes is a blot on Congress and the lobbying industry that cries out for a thorough public vetting. But no one is taking any bets, particularly at tribal casinos, that Capitol politicians can fully face the task.

Settle a Shameful Case

‘Freedom’ is on the Crawl

Employee Advocate – – November 20, 2004

Chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, according to The Los Angeles Times. Their assessment of the Iraq war was not very pretty and it directly contradicted the happy talk of G. W. Bush, V. P. Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael W. Hagee testified: "Make no mistake, today we are at war…the demand on the force has increased exponentially. This demand is especially telling in the strain on our Marines, their families, and on our equipment and materiel stocks."

Did the general miss G. W. Bush’s “Flight Suit Photo Op” on May 1, 2003? Standing before a gigantic “Mission Accomplished” banner, Bush declared “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Clearly, someone does not have clue about what is going on in Iraq.

Who has more credibility, the military leaders or the crowd that lied to Congress and the public to promote the illegal war? One group fights wars. The other group only promotes and profits from them.

You should not be shocked to hear that the Iraq war is going to cost more billions of dollars, the military is having recruitment problems, and the soldiers are not properly equipped.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said that armor has been manufactured for only half of the Humvees. And being manufactured does not mean that it is installed. The Army needs 373,000 more sets of body armor this year. This is even after all the body armor bought by parents and shipped the their sons and daughters in Iraq. The Army is short 131,000 sets of clothing and fighting equipment. It is also short of radios, M-4 carbines, machine guns, and repair parts.

G. W. Bush had money to give the wealthy multiple tax cuts, but no money to fully equip those stuck fighting his war. Even Republicans expressed dismay to learn that the Iraq war is no cakewalk.

Republican Committee Chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter may be getting a clue. He said the war was "in danger of wearing [the military] out." He noted that the fighting is "eating up the life span of major equipment, ranging from fighter aircraft to tanks and Humvees."

Yes, and G. W. Bush’s war is eating up the life span of the people actually fighting it. Bullets and bombs tend to shorten the human life expectancy considerably. It’s not doing the Iraqi citizens a lot of good either.

“Freedom” is on the crawl in Iraq. G. W. Bush uses the word “freedom” very loosely. A puppet government, fully controlled by G. W. Bush, does not constitute freedom for Iraq.

If Saddam Hussein would have continued to be subservient to Washington, he would still be in power today. He would not be in control; he would only be in power. There is a difference. The U. S. once provide him with all the weapons he wanted. He was encouraged to kill, kill, kill. The catch was that he was supposed to kill only those approved for destruction by Washington.

Regime change was all about putting a government in Iraq that could be controlled by G. W. Bush. The Iraqi people are well aware of this. This is why Iraqi freedom fighters continue to oppose the Bush occupation of their country.

The Iraq war is costing $5.8 billion per month and the death toll is not abating.

The Greatest Photo Op on Earth

Getting What One Asks For

The Uniter?

Employee Advocate – – November 20, 2004

In 1999, G. W. Bush said “I'm a uniter, not a divider.” This may be one of the few times that he told the truth about anything. Bush is uniting the world. The problem is that his military adventures are uniting the world against the United States.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, criticized Arab and Muslim silence over the U.S. attack on Fallujah, according to Tehran radio and the Associated Press. On Thursday, he said "How can Muslim and Arabic governments accept playing the role of an indifferent observer? We can hear the voice of the needy coming from Iraqi families. Doesn't this voice deserve a protest by governments and the people against the arrogant Western powers?… Killing thousands of civilians, executing the injured, arresting the innocent and destroying houses and mosques in Fallujah makes the eyes and hearts restless."

G. W. Bush did not create all of the problems in the world today. He only created some new problems and made the existing problems much worse. The U. S. has been double-dealing and pitting one country against another for decades.

The U. S. provided weapons to Iraq for use against Iran. When Sadam Hussein no longer want to play, he had to be destroyed. Before that, Iran was on the “good boy” list. When Iran no longer wanted to play ball, Iraq was pitted against it. As director of the CIA, the senior George Bush stirred the poisonous cauldron. When he became president, he used the opportunity to teach Saddam Hussein a lesson.

G. W. Bush wanted to pick up the punishment of Iraq where his father left off. His father knew that it would have been disastrous to occupy Baghdad. G. W. Bush has never been accused of thinking things through. He just waded into the quagmire. So much for the uniter.

How to Stop an Unjust War

Employee Advocate – – November 17, 2004

Citizens always hold the power to stop senseless bloodshed. If they do not show up to do the dirty work for someone else, the slaughter ends. The government has no power over its citizens, other than what they are willing to concede.

The Iraqi people did not attack the United States. The Iraq war is based on lies told to Congress and the American people. Too many have already died for G. W. Bush’s ego trip. The person who has no desire to occupy another country and kill its citizens for no reason can just say “no.” And according to Monica Davey, in The New York Times, some are doing just that.

The Bush administration is literally looking for warm bodies for the military. It needs more warm bodies to be transformed into cold bodies with flags draped over them.

The Army recently tried to force more than 4,000 former soldiers back into service to feed the Iraq and Afghanistan meat grinders. Over 2,000 of them said “No, thank you.” They are filing legal cases, seeking exemptions, or just not showing up for the killing spree.

Major Rick Howell said "I consider myself a civilian. I've done my time. I've got a brand new baby and a wife, and I haven't touched the controls of an aircraft in seven years. I'm 47 years old. How could they be calling me? How could they even want me?…These guys like me are basically untrained civilians now."

So much for the all volunteer Army. Under Bush, it’s the backdoor draft Army. Under Bush, nothing is ever exactly what it seems to be. There is always a clause, a catch, a hidden agenda.

When Todd Parrish, of Cary, N.C., was called back into service, he thought it was a mistake. He said "I guess I feel disillusioned now. This isn't about being for or against the war. It's not about Democrats or Republicans. It's just a contract, and I don't think this is right. If they need more people, shouldn't they get them the right way? How many more like me are there?"

His wife, Colette, said "We had no idea this could happen. We hadn't been preparing for any of it because we thought it wasn't possible."

Mr. Parrish has filed a lawsuit against the Army in federal court in North Carolina.

Barry Slotnick, an attorney handling such cases, said "We might as well add another phone bank. What I can see is that there are many, many cases of people being called up that shouldn't have been. This is a backdoor draft. I also have to wonder how many are already in Iraq who shouldn't be there, who just didn't think to question it."

Not all of the backdoor draftees were to be slated to be blown to smithereens. The Army wanted to “draft” people to play the French horn, the clarinet, the euphonium, the saxophone and the electric bass! Members of Congress could not swallow that one, so the Army used volunteers to fill those slots.

Little Billy: “Daddy what did you do in the Iraq war?”

Dad: “Why son, I took full command of an euphonium.”

Little Billy: “Wow!”

Dad: “It was my duty, son.”

Bush Wanted to Attack Iraq All Along

Employee Advocate – – October 30, 2004

G. W. Bush was itching to invade Iraq two years before 9/11, according to His former ghost writer, Mickey Herskowitz, said “He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999. It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

Mr. Herskowitz spilled the beans when he said that G. W. Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. He said that the 9/11 attacks gave Bush a ticket to emerge from his father’s shadow. “Suddenly, he’s at 91 percent in the polls, and he’d barely crawled out of the bunker.”

The accusation that G. W. Bush wanted to attack Iraq for years has be lodged by others, including former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill.

Mr. Herskowitz was commissioned to ghost write an autobiography for G. W. Bush in 1999. Why didn’t G. W. Bush write his own autobiography? Look, the man does not even read a newspaper. Writing a book would have been totally out of the question!

Mr. Herskowitz was eventually replaced as G. W. Bush’s ghost writer because his work did not flatter Bush enough. Communications director Karen Hughes rewrote the book. The reviews were mostly critical because of its self-serving qualities.

G. W. Bush and his advisors believed that a political agenda could only be achieved with record-high approval numbers. These approval ratings could be obtained by successful, even if modest, wars. “Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade.”

That idea blew up in the Bush administrations’ face! The Iraq war is not modest by any means. The end is not in sight. And, it is anything but successful!

The Russ Baker site listed the following information, provided by Mr. Herskowitz:

  • In 2003, Bush’s father indicated to him that he disagreed with his son’s invasion of Iraq.

  • Bush admitted that he failed to fulfill his Vietnam-era domestic National Guard service obligation, but claimed that he had been “excused.”

  • Bush revealed that after he left his Texas National Guard unit in 1972 under murky circumstances, he never piloted a plane again. That casts doubt on the carefully-choreographed moment of Bush emerging in pilot’s garb from a jet on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 to celebrate “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. The image, instantly telegraphed around the globe, and subsequent hazy White House statements about his capacity in the cockpit, created the impression that a heroic Bush had played a role in landing the craft.

  • Bush described his own business ventures as “floundering” before campaign officials insisted on recasting them in a positive light.

Mr. Herskowitz summed up G. W. Bush with this comment: “He told me that as a leader, you can never admit to a mistake. That was one of the keys to being a leader.”

Letting Down the Troops

New York Times – by Bob Herbert – October 29, 2004

Not long ago I interviewed a soldier who was paralyzed from injuries he had suffered in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Like so many other wounded soldiers I've talked to, he expressed no anger and no bitterness about the difficult hand he's been dealt as a result of the war.

But when I asked this soldier, Eugene Simpson Jr., a 27-year-old staff sergeant from Dale City, Va., whom he had been fighting in Iraq - who, exactly, the enemy was - he looked up from his wheelchair and stared at me for a long moment. Then, in a voice much softer than he had been using for most of the interview, and with what seemed like a mixture of sorrow, regret and frustration, he said: "I don't know. That would be my answer. I don't know."

We have not done right by the troops we've sent to Iraq to fight this crazy, awful war. We haven't given them a clear mission, and we haven't protected them well. I'm reminded of the famous scene in "On the Waterfront" when Terry Malloy, the character played by Marlon Brando, tells his brother: "You shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit."

The thing to always keep in mind about our troops in Iraq is that they were sent to fight the wrong war. America's clearly defined and unmistakable enemy, Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, was in Afghanistan. So the men and women fighting and dying in Iraq were thrown into a pointless, wholly unnecessary conflict.

That tragic move was made worse by the failure of the U.S. to send enough troops to effectively wage the war that we started in Iraq. And we never fully equipped the troops we did send. The people who ordered up this war had no idea what they were doing. They were wildly overconfident, blinded by hubris and a dangerous, overarching ideology. They thought it would be a cakewalk.

In May of 2003, President Bush thought the war was over. It had barely begun. Many thousands have died in the long and bloody months since then. Even now, Dick Cheney, with a straight face, is calling Iraq "a remarkable success story."

One of the worst things about the management of this war is the way we've treated our men and women in uniform. The equipment shortages experienced by troops shoved into combat have been unconscionable. Soldiers and marines, in many cases, have been forced to face enemy fire with flak jackets from the Vietnam era that were all but useless, and sometimes without any body armor at all. Relatives back home have had to send the troops such items as radios and goggles, and even graphite to keep their weapons from jamming.

One of the most ominous signs about the war is the growing disenchantment of the troops. They've spent too much time on the most dangerous roads in the world without the proper training, without up-to-date equipment, without the proper armor for their vehicles and without the support they feel they should be getting from their Iraqi allies.

The Times's Edward Wong, after a series of interviews with marines in the Sunni-dominated city of Ramadi, wrote:

"They said the Iraqi police and National Guard are unhelpful at best and enemy agents at worst, raising doubts about President Bush's assertion that local forces would soon help relieve the policing duties of the 138,000 American troops in Iraq. The marines said they could use better equipment from the Pentagon, and they feared that the American people were ignorant of the hardships they faced in this dessicated land."

Several members of an Army Reserve unit refused a direct order to deliver fuel along a dangerous route in Iraq a couple of weeks ago. They said their trucks were not armored and were prone to breaking down. An example of the kind of catastrophe they were seeking to avoid came just a week later, when 49 unarmed and otherwise unprotected Iraqi soldiers were attacked and killed in cold blood in a remote region of eastern Iraq.

This has been a war run by amateurs and incompetents. Whatever anyone has felt about the merits of the war, there is no excuse for preparing so poorly and for failing to see, at a minimum, that the troops were properly trained and equipped.

The United States has the most powerful military in history, yet it is bogged down in a humiliating quagmire in a country that was barely functional to begin with. We've dealt ourselves the cruelest of hands in Iraq. We can't win this war and, tragically, we don't know how to end it.

Bush Charged with War Crimes

Employee Advocate – – October 28, 2004

Reuters reported that G. W. Bush has been accused of war crimes by a group in Chile. The criminal complaint was filed Tuesday. It asks that Bush and his cabinet members be arrested during the Asia Pacific leaders summit in November.

Lawyer Juan Enrique Prieto said "Under international treaties just because you are head of state does not mean you are allowed to go out and commit any type of act and not be judged."

Submitted with the lawsuit text was photographic evidence of U.S. soldiers committing sexual and physical abuse of prisoners in the Iraq prison Abu Ghraib.

Death Penalty for War Crimes

A Social Security Swindle

The Boston Globe – by Barney Frank – October 11, 2004

(September 28, 2004) SOMETIMES mixed metaphors say it best. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan's call for significant reductions in Social Security can best be described as a case of the fox in the chicken coop crying wolf. He is greatly exaggerating the dimensions of a problem that he helped create.

Greenspan recently said, "We have promised more than our economy has the ability to deliver to retirees." He argued that we have the choice either of raising payroll taxes, which are regressive and economically burdensome, or reducing cost-of-living adjustments while raising the retirement age. The assumption that leads him to pose this stark choice is that the federal government does not have enough revenue available to deliver the benefits we have promised retirees.

What he omitted to note is that if all of the payroll taxes that have been and will be paid into Social Security are made available for Social Security payments as they are supposed to be, the system is entirely solvent until 2042 at least.

When the Bush administration took office, we were on the path to accumulating the level of surpluses sufficient for the federal government to meet this legal and moral commitment to Social Security without causing severe fiscal distress. Then came the deficits of the last four years, caused in substantial part by the large tax cuts pushed through Congress by President Bush, predominately for the benefit of our wealthier citizens and with the strong support of Greenspan.

Greenspan argued in 2001 for the first Bush tax cut on the grounds that if we did not enact it, the federal government would have too much money by 2010. It is the absence of this "too much money" that now leads him to claim that we cannot afford to meet our Social Security commitments. Greenspan rests his case not just on the revenues of the federal government but on the broader economic picture. It is unlikely, he believes, that we will produce enough wealth to pay the retirement benefits the law currently calls for.

He stresses that the critical element in determining this will be the level of savings in our economy, and he notes that "critical to national saving will be the level of government, specifically federal government, saving." But he has helped lower that rate below what he says we need.

To quote the July 2004 Federal Reserve Monetary Policy Report: "As of the first quarter of 2004, national saving . . . was still equal to just about 2 1/2 percent of GDP, compared with the recent high of 6 1/2 percent in 1998." Why is national savings this year only one-third of what it was six years earlier? The cause is "the deterioration in the unified budget since 2000." Specifically, "measured net of estimated depreciation, federal savings fell from 2 percent of GDP to minus 4 percent of the GDP over this period."

Of course, a major reason we face this situation is the Bush tax-cutting that Greenspan endorsed. According to the report, "In large part, the rise in the deficit is attributable to further rapid increases in spending on defense and other programs and the loss of revenues resulting from the tax legislation enacted in recent years."

We do face a problem in the financing of Medicare, but that is best seen as part of our need to overhaul the way in which we pay for medical care in general. But as to Social Security, it does not begin to need any additional resources until 2042, and maybe not then if economic growth is strong.

Even then, the choices are not simply raising the payroll tax or cutting back substantially on benefits but could include making some general revenues available for some of the expenditures now covered under Social Security.

That would, of course, be difficult by a continuation of the policy of simultaneously waging wars and enacting periodic large tax cuts, and I would be heartened if Greenspan's concern over the consequences of this pattern led him to be more supportive of our efforts to break it.

Barney Frank is a US representative from Massachusetts.

Energy Task Force Meetings Still Secret

Employee Advocate – – September 20, 2004

The Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee voted Wednesday against a "resolution of inquiry," according to The resolution would have ordered the Bush administration to release the documents on Dick Cheney's secret Energy Task Force meetings, held in 2001.

Anna Aurilio is the legislative director for U.S. PIRG. She said "The American people have a right to know what went on behind closed doors. We are extremely disappointed that the House committee voted to keep the public in the dark about the Bush administration's secret meetings with big corporations."

Rick Blum is coordinator of, a coalition of open government groups. He said "I don't think this is the last word. The court case is still going forward. I think that finding out who took part in the meetings will happen eventually."

Sharon Buccino is a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). She said "It shouldn't take an act of Congress to force the White House to share information with the public about the public's business. The White House's dirty secrets about Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force are not sensitive security information, but rather information critical to the national debate on energy policy. Citizens have a right to know about how decisions were made on policies that affect our quality of life and America's energy security."

The Cheney Trail of Tears

The Cheney Trail of Tears

Employee Advocate – – September 8, 2004

Dick Cheney’s secretly developed National Energy Policy is wreaking havoc today, according to How can this be since the energy bill was never passed? Much of the policy was implemented through “policy directives.”

When the Bush administration cannot get the laws changed to its liking, it tries to circumvent them. It tried to legalize age discrimination in cash balance pension plans through Treasury regulations. It uses regulatory changes to give corporations a free pass in complying with environmental laws. The environment suffers as corporations are encouraged to cut corners.

Preemptive Legislation?

The Cheney Trail runs up the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico to Canada. All along the way is polluted water, air pollution, contaminated soil, and land rendered nearly worthless.

In Colorado Lisa Bracken witnessed the results of Cheney’s handiwork. A cold spring was producing bubbles – bubbles that would burn. The water was apparently contaminated by seeping gas. EnCana ended up paying a $375,000 fine, but admitted no guilt.

Environmental laws protected the Rocky Mountains from gas drilling. Cheney “fixed” that little problem. On March 27, 2001, the Cheney task force invited the National Petroleum Council to make a presentation. The Council wanted regulations rolled back, quick approval for drilling, and more access to federal lands.

The Council found Cheney to be very sympathetic to its wishes. In a speech to the London Institute of Petroleum, Cheney complained that the oil and gas industry did not have enough political power. Cheney said he's “mean-spirited, short-tempered and intolerant of those who disagreed.” That is one statement made by Cheney that will never be disputed!

“Coincidentally,” large corporate campaign contributors seemed to get everything that they wanted. It’s called the “Democratic Process.”

George Yates ran a fund-raiser for Cheney and Bush In 2002. Oil-and-gas-industry executives came to the dilapidated town and paid $250 a plate to eat with Cheney. They paid $1,000 to have photos taken with him. Now Yates Petroleum has the rights to drill at the beginning of the Cheney Trail.

G. W. Bush pocketed $2.2 million in contributions at a $5,000-a-couple fund-raiser organized by Bruce Benson. Bush pledged to explore for energy in more “environmentally sensitive areas.” Benson now chairs the Benson Mineral Group.

William J. Kelly summed it up this way: “Under the Bush administration’s secret energy policy, Cheney has allowed billion-dollar energy barons to recoup instantly their small-change campaign contributions and profit like kings. For a few thousand dollars in contributions, companies like Yates Petroleum, BP, XTO and Questar have been able to stave off environmental requirements that would cost them millions of dollars a year and have instead gained billions in their rush to produce more fossil fuel instead of developing renewable-energy sources.”

Lisa Bracken, the lady who found burning bubbles in a spring, said “I voted for Bush. I’m part of the problem.”

That is a mistake that she does not intend to make a second time.

Consider Cheney's Secrecy

Pension Bailouts

Employee Advocate – – August 8, 2004

The New York Times reported that bankrupt corporations have dumped $11.2 billion in pension obligations on the government. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC ) had a $7.7 billion surplus in 2001. It now has a $9.7 billion deficit.

The PBGC is also looking at a possible $5 billion default by United Airlines. More airlines may be lining up to dump their pension responsibilities on the government.

When Bush Senior was in the White House, taxpayers were forced to bail out the savings and loan industry. If the pension situation gets worse, taxpayers may be forced to bail out the PBGC.

At least the Bush administration is consistent; everything always goes from a surplus to a deficit!

Tommy Franks Talks

Employee Advocate – – August 1, 2004

General Tommy Franks retired from the military a year ago, after the invasion and occupation of Iraq. One could not help but wonder if there was a loss of confidence in the Bush administration. Gen. Franks broke his silence in an interview with PARADE magazine. Some interesting facts were revealed:

Gen. Franks never thought the US would be out of Iraq in a year. He said five years would be more realistic. He said "It takes time to solve problems when you're talking about 25 to 26 million people."

He noted that the "reason we went to war" was the purported weapons of mass destruction. He was surprised to not find any.

He expected 150,000 additional international peacekeeping troops, but did not get them.

Gen. Franks said "For years, I had told my Arab friends that I had 'no Israeli visa' in my passport. This was an unofficial way of letting them know that I understood their side of the story."

He grew tired of the micromanaging of his Afghanistan war plans. He told civilian bosses in the Pentagon that he wanted "to be left the hell alone" to run the Iraq war.

Gen. Franks was not impressed with Colin Powell’s military advice.

He said that “we don’t have enough sources on the ground” in Afghanistan.

His book, American Soldier, will be published august 3, 2004.

DeLay Ethics Violation Review Extended

Employee Advocate – – July 25, 2004

Friday, the House ethics committee decided to extend its inquiry of the misuse of office charges against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, according to the Associated Press. DeLay is accused of misusing his office to raise money for Republicans.

The complaint against the Texas Republican was filed last month by Rep. Chris Bell, also from Texas. Bell, a Democrat, lost the March primary after DeLay gerrymandered the Texas congressional districts.

The complaint alleges:

  • That DeLay illegally solicited and accepted political contributions from the Kansas-based Westar Energy Corp. in return for legislative favors. In 2002 when a major energy bill was being put together in Congress, Westar executives contributed $58,200 to various campaigns and political action committees, including $25,000 to DeLay's PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority.

  • That the same political action committee in September 2002 sent $190,000 in corporate funds to the Republican National Committee "in an apparent money-laundering scheme" to provide funds for GOP candidates to the Texas legislature. Texas law prohibits corporate contributions to candidates for state office.

  • That in 2003, DeLay misused his office by asking the Federal Aviation Administration and Justice Department to help track down Democrats in the Texas legislature who had fled the state to prevent Republicans from getting a quorum to pass the GOP redistricting plan.

TRMPAC and the Texas Association of Business is under a Texas grand jury investigation of the funneling of millions of dollars in corporate money to Republican state House candidates in 2002. DeLay has not been questioned in this investigation.

Westar Energy Scandal Ethics Complaint

Consider Cheney's Secrecy

Knight Ridder – by Rhonda Lokeman – July 22, 2004

Actions of the man a heartbeat away from presidency troublesome

Halliburton isn't even the half of Vice President Dick Cheney's credibility problems. Still, his refusal to publicly condemn the company's alleged profiteering during an unnecessary war that he helped rush America into is troublesome.

As former CEO of the oil-services company whose employees cheated U.S. taxpayers during the Bush administration -- and cheated U.S. troops in wartime -- you'd think Cheney could get rattled about wrongdoing. Instead, he's more upset about legitimate questions raised about why a defense contractor that rips off the taxpayers keeps getting government contracts.

True to form, this bad cop to President Bush's good cop has flipped off the public for daring to be curious.

Meanwhile, Kellogg, Brown and Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, has agreed to refund the government $27 million for overbilling for meals for U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. And the Defense Department is looking into whether Halliburton overcharged for fuel delivered to Iraqi civilians as part of a no-bid contract in 2003.

Senate Judiciary Committee members, notably ranking Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have questioned whether the vice president's office had a hand in arranging it.

Leahy is outraged by the lack of outrage. Cheney insists he has no further ties with Halliburton, which he ran from 1995 to 2000.

But a March 23, 2003, e-mail, first obtained by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, suggests otherwise. The e-mail, which Judicial Watch acquired through the federal Freedom of Information Act, has an Army Corps of Engineers official telling the Pentagon's undersecretary of defense for policy that the Iraqi reconstruction contract "was contingent on informing WH (White House) tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w(ith) VP's office."

Did more than 800 Americans die tearing down Saddam Hussein's vile regime in order to help defense contractors, with friends in high places, build up their war chests? Surely not.

So far Congress has found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, the Sept. 11 commission has found no evidence of corroborative ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda and so far there's no end in sight for the overseas commitment for our troops. The Army is stretched so thin, generals are speaking out. Like the civilians they've left behind, our fighting men and women are victims of the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American public by those at the highest level of our government.

It is worth recalling what journalist Ron Suskind wrote in his book, "The Price of Loyalty," former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's insider account of the Bush administration leading up to the war in Iraq. Wrote Suskind: "Documents were being prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency, (Donald) Rumsfeld's intelligence arm, mapping Iraq's oil fields and exploration areas and listing companies that might be interested in leveraging the precious asset."

Suskind, citing O'Neill as his source, wrote of high-level plans "for how the world's second largest oil reserve might be divided among the world's contractors."

Our vice president continues to assert that there are WMD in Iraq, there are terror ties between Hussein and Osama bin Laden and much more that seems based on bad -- if not manipulated -- intelligence.

Cheney contradicts the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by the trustworthy Sen. Pat Roberts. The committee reported that we went to war mostly on faulty intelligence. Even Roberts, a loyal Republican, is miffed at the mess.

Voters would do well to contemplate the man a heartbeat away from the presidency, something the Bush-Cheney campaign keeps telling us in its public attacks on Sen. John Edwards, the presumptive Democratic vice-presidential nominee. What we know about the current officeholder, however, is that he is a man who gets annoyed at anyone who questions his statements or activities especially when they are indeed questionable.

He's so secretive that he even went to the Supreme Court to avoid disclosing to the public the identities of people on his energy task force. And he has such a commanding presence that the president would not testify to the Sept. 11 commission without him.

Members of the Sept. 11 commission, which interviewed 1,100 people including Bush and Cheney privately, have said they found "no operational link" between Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Yet Cheney insists the commission is wrong and even news reports about the commission are wrong. The panel, of which Republican Thomas Kean is chairman, found "no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."

It did not rule out the possibility, but based on what it knew, no link was found.

Kean and committee vice chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, welcome another chance to hear more from Cheney. But Cheney is too busy campaigning for a second term to talk to them.

Bull in a China Shop

Proof of Bogus War

Employee Advocate – – July 11, 2004

Not everyone was duped by the lies told by G. W. Bush to promote the illegal Iraq war. Worldwide, millions of people protested attacking Iraq, well before the war started. Bush was so bloodthirsty that he refused to listen to any calls for a diplomatic solution. His mind was set on war and he was not going to be confused by facts.

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice wanted war and, by George, they were going to get it!

Untold thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens were slaughtered. Over 1,000 American-led coalition soldiers have been killed. Thousands more have been wounded. The Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal is a new low in American history. Billions of dollars have been squandered. After all of this, a Senate Intelligence Committee report provides the proof that there was no reason to go to war. The CIA blew it.

Of course all knew that G. W. Bush and Dick Cheney wanted only reasons to start a war. The CIA gave them what they wanted. The rest is history.

Knight Ridder reported Sen. John "Jay" Rockefeller’s comments at a news conference. He said "Tragically, the intelligence failure set forth in this report will affect our national security for generations to come. Our credibility is diminished. Our standing in the world has never been lower. We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before."

47 percent of Americans have caught on that Bush misled them on the need for war, according to a poll by NBC News/Wall Street Journal.

A Senator Spills the Beans

4,000 Scientists Oppose Bush

Employee Advocate – – July 9, 2004

In February, 62 scientists opposed the Bush administration’s manipulation of scientific data. That was a noteworthy event. But now, over 4,000 scientists have signed the statement, including 48 Nobel laureates and 61 National Medal of Science winners.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reported that there has been no improvement in the distortion of scientific analysis by the Bush administration. In fact, new ground is being broken in document manipulation. The UCS charges:

  • Studies by five federal and state agencies on the environmental damage from mining in Appalachia were purposely disregarded.

  • The director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used flawed data to make environmental decisions.

  • Members of the Scientific advisory panel still prefer to base decisions on politics rather that scientific data.

Administration Altered Health Report

The Patriot Act

Los Angeles Times – by Michael Moore – July 5, 2004

What's more American than asking questions?

(Sunday 04 July 2004) - New York - As a young boy, I loved the American flag. I'd lead my younger sisters in patriotic parades up and down the sidewalk, waving the flag, blowing a whistle and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance over and over until my sisters begged me to let them go back to their Easy-Bake Oven.

I loved singing the national anthem. I won an essay contest on "What the Flag Means to Me." I decorated my bicycle with little American flags for a Fourth of July parade and won a prize for that too. I became an Eagle Scout and proudly promised to do my duty to God and country. And every year I asked to be the one who planted the flag on the grave of my uncle, a paratrooper who was killed in World War II. I was taught to admire his sacrifice, and I hoped to grow up and do my part, as he had, to keep us free.

But, in high school, things changed. Nine boys from my school came back home from Vietnam in boxes. Draped over each coffin was the American flag. I knew that they also had made a sacrifice. But their sacrifice wasn't for their country: They were sent to die by men who lied to them. Those men - presidents, senators, government officials - wrapped themselves in the flag too, hoping that their lies would never be questioned, never be discovered. They wrapped themselves in the very flag that was placed on the coffins of my friends and neighbors. I stopped singing the national anthem at football games, and I stopped putting out the flag. I realize now I never should have stopped.

For too long now we have abandoned our flag to those who see it as a symbol of war and dominance, as a way to crush dissent at home. Flags are flying from the back of SUVs, rising high above car dealerships, plastering the windows of businesses and adorning paper bags from fast-food restaurants. But these flags are intended to send a message: "You're either with us or you're against us," "Bring it on!" or "Watch what you say, watch what you do."

Those who absconded with our flag now use it as a weapon against those who question America's course. They remind me of that famous 1976 photo of an anti-busing demonstrator in Boston thrusting a large American flag on a pole into the stomach of the first black man he encountered. These so-called patriots hold the flag tightly in their grip and, in a threatening pose, demand that no one ask questions. Those who speak out find themselves shunned at work, harassed at school, booed off Oscar stages. The flag has become a muzzle, a piece of cloth stuffed into the mouths of those who dare to ask questions.

I think it's time for those of us who love this country - and everything it should stand for - to reclaim our flag from those who would use it to crush rights and freedoms, both here at home and overseas. We need to redefine what it means to be a proud American.

If you are one of those who love what President Bush has done for this country and believe you must blindly follow the president to deserve to fly the flag, you should ask yourself some difficult questions about just how proud you are of the America we now inhabit:

Are you proud that one in six children lives in poverty in America?

Are you proud that 40 million adult Americans are functional illiterates?

Are you proud that the bulk of the jobs being created these days are low- and minimum-wage jobs?

Are you proud of asking your fellow Americans to live on $5.15 an hour?

Are you proud that, according to a National Geographic Society survey, 85% of young adult Americans cannot find Iraq on the map (and 11% cannot find the United States!) ?

Are you proud that the rest of the world, which poured out its heart to us after Sept. 11, now looks at us with disdain and disgust?

Are you proud that nearly 3 billion people on this planet do not have access to clean drinking water when we have the resources and technology to remedy this immediately?

Are you proud of the fact that our president sent our soldiers off to a war that had nothing to do with the self-defense of this country?

If these things represent what it means to be an American these days - and I am an American - should I hang my head in shame? No. Instead, I intend to perform what I believe is my patriotic duty. I can't think of a more American thing to do than raise questions - and demand truthful answers - when our leader wants to send our sons and daughters off to die in a war.

If we don't do that - the bare minimum - for those who offer to defend our country, then we have failed them and ourselves. They offer to die for us, if necessary, so that we can be free. All they ask in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. And with this war, we have broken faith with our troops by sending them off to be killed and maimed for wrong and immoral reasons.

This is the true state of disgrace we are living in. I hope we can make it up someday to these brave kids (and older men and women in our reserves and National Guard) . They deserve an apology, they deserve our thanks - and a raise - and they deserve a big parade with lots of flags.

I would like to lead that parade, carrying the largest flag. And I would like the country to proclaim that never again will a war be fought unless it is our last resort.

Let's create a world in which, when people see the Stars and Stripes, they will think of us as the people who brought peace to the world, who brought good-paying jobs to all citizens and clean water for the world to drink.

In anticipation of that day, I am putting my flag out today, with hope and with pride.

William Pitt Thanks Michael Moore

EPA Challenged on Mercury Rule

Employee Advocate – – July 2, 2004

Under the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has catered to the energy industry, at the expense of the citizens. The EPA proposed drastically weakening the mercury emission limits at coal fired power plants.

The Bush administration’s game is to effectively rewrite law through regulatory interpretations. It tried to make age discrimination legal in cash balance plans, through Treasury regulations. That was a major flop!

The EPA tried the same ploy with mercury emission regulations, according to the Associated Press. Just as the cash balance plan regulations were challenged, the EPA regulations are facing a formal challenge.

New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey filed a complaint with the EPA Monday, on behalf eleven states. He said ''An issue that is so critical to the health of our citizens in general and children in particular should not turn in each instance on the financial self-interest of the power company… EPA's plan would allow power plants to choose to purchase emissions credits rather than reducing their own mercury emissions.''

New Hampshire Acting Attorney General Kelly Ayotte said mercury emissions ''accumulate in our lakes and streams, forcing health advisories and threatening our children's health… EPA's lax proposal, which ignores good science and federal clean air laws, can only be characterized as 'too little, too late.' ''

EPA administrator Mike Leavitt has requested further analysis of the controversial proposal.

‘Mr. Mercury’

Washington - Page 45