Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Monday, May 22, 2006

VETERANS' GROUP THROWS SUPPORT TO COURTNEY

COLCHESTER---Retired Brig. Gen. Jim Throwe, formerly of Norwich, will head up a committee of veterans supporting Democratic congressional challenger Joseph Courtney.

Throwe and 17 other veterans threw their support behind Courtney Sunday, saying incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, a Vietnam veteran, has failed in keeping the promise to those who have served their country.

"What makes a difference is who you do for a veteran, not what you say you're going to do," Throwe said. "He's voted for a bill that cuts my TriCare health benefits and increases my co-pay. For a veteran who served for more than 20 years, and lives on a fixed income, that hurts."

"I just wish I had the general's problem of having to pay a higher co-pay," added Ken Goldsmith of Woodstock, a pilot in the Navy Reserves. "I can't get TriCare because I'm in the Reserves."

The Courtney campaign staged the event on the Colchester Town Green Sunday afternoon, just two hours before Simons was to be officially endorsed for re-election to a fourth term down the road at Bacon Academy.

"Veterans throughout the 2nd Congressional District are fed up with this administration and Congress who talk but then go down to Washington and vote for budgets that underfund veterans' programs," Courtney said.

"CLEARLY THIS ADMINISTRATION AND CONGRESS HAVE A DIFFERENT PRIORITY THAT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SERVE," HE SAID. "WE NEED TO CHANGE THAT."

Simmons disputed the claims, noting that in the last 6 years health-care benefits funding for veterans has increased 40 percent, and overall veterans funding is up by 50% since he took office in 2000.

*Here we go again. This must be on the Republican's talking points when it comes to the veterans. That's all I've heard from them. "Bush has raised funding for veterans...and so on...and so forth. THEY HAVE MISREPRESENTED THE NUMBERS. .......I've got a whole article posted on this blog about the Republican's broken promises to the veterans. Make sure you read it. They misrepresented the numbers so they could use this talking point in their stump speeches this election season, since they don't have anything else to go on!


Source: Norwich Bulletin
Story By: Ray Hackett
May 22, 2006

HOW DOES BUSH AND HIS BACKERS TREAT THEIR CRITICS?...................


DIXIE CHICKS, VALERIE PLAME & BUSH

A politician's reaction to dissent is often the true test of committment to democracy. Great leaders not only tolerate criticism, but welcome disagreement as part of a fair competition of ideas leading to the best result for society.

Certainly, no one who truly cares about democracy favors punishing critics and demonizong dissenters. But just such hostility has been the calling card of George W. Bush and his backers over the past five years as they have subjected public critics to vilification, ridicule and retaliation.

While Bush doesn't always join personally in the attack-dog operations, he has a remarkable record of never calling off the dogs, letting his surrogates inflict the damage while he winks his approval. In some cases, however, such as the punishment of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, CIA officer Valerie Plame, Bush has actually gotten his hands dirty.

The Bush-on-the-sidelines cases are illustrated by what happened to the
Dixie Chicks, a three-woman country-western band that has faced three years of boycotts because lead singer, Natalie Maines, criticized Bush as he was stampeding the nation toward war with Iraq.

During a March 10, 2003, concert in London, Maines, a Texan, remarked, "we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." Two days later---just a week before Bush launched the Iraq invasion---she added, "I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world."

With war hysteria then sweeping America, the right-wing attack machine switched into high gear, organizing rallies to drive trucks over Dixie Chicks CDs and threatening country-western stations that played Dixie Chicks music. Maines later apologized, but it was too late to stop the group's songs from falling down the country music charts.

On April 24, 2003, with the Iraq War barely a month old, NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw asked Bush about the boycott of the Dixie Chicks. The President responded that the singers "can say what they want to say," but he added that his supporters than had an equal right to punish the singers for their comments.

"They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out," Bush said. "Freedom is a two-way street."

So, instead of encouraging a full-and-free debate, Bush made clear that he saw nothing wrong with his followers hurting Americans who disagree with him.


PATTERN OF ATTACK

Other celebrities who opposed the Iraq War, such as Sean Penn, got a similar treatment. Bush's supporters even gloated when Penn lost acting work because he had criticized the rush to war.

"Sean Penn is fired from an acting job and finds out that actions bring about consequences. Whoa, dude!" chortled pro-Bush MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough.

Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, cited as justification for Penn's punishment the actor's comment during a pre-war trip to Iraq that "I cannot conceive of any reason why the American people and the world would not have shared with them the evidence that they [Bush administration officials] claim to have weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." [MSNBC transcript, May 18, 2003]

In other words, no matter how reasonable or accurate the concerns expressed by Bush's Iraq War critics, they could expect retaliation.

With Bush's quiet encouragement, his supporters also denigrated skeptical U.S. allies, such as France by pouring French wine into gutters and renaming "French Fries" as "freedom fries."

Bush's backers even mocked U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix for not finding WMD in Iraq in the weeks before the U.S. invasion. CNBC's right-wing comic Dennis Miller likened Blix's U.N. inspectors to the cartoon character Scooby Doo, racing fruitlessly around Iraq in vans.

As it turned out, of course, the Iraq War critics were right. The problem wasn't the incompetence of Blix but the fact that Bush's claims about Iraq's WMD were false, as Bush's arms inspectors David Kay and Charles Duelfer concluded after the invasion.

But the critics never got any apologies or repair to the careers. As CBS's "60 Minutes" reported in a segment on May 14, 2006, the Dixie Chicks were still haunted by the pro-Bush boycott years later.

"They have already paid a huge price for their outspokenness, and not just monetarily," said correspondent Steve Kroft. Sometimes, Iraq War supporters even turned to threats of violence.

During one tour, lead singer Maines was warned, "You will be shot dead at your show in Dallas," forcing her to perform there under tight police protection, said the group's banjo player, Emily Robison. In another incident, a shotgun was pointed at a radio station's van because it had the group's picture on the side, Robison said.

Though the Dixie Chicks are still shunned by many country-western stations, they have refused to back down. Indeed, one of their new songs---entitled "Not Ready To Make Nice"---takes on the hatred and intolerance they faced for voicing an opinion about Bush and the Iraq War.

As Kroft noted, "Not Ready To Make Nice" received favorable reviews and became one of the most downloaded country songs on the Internet, but is still "fizzled on the charts" as Bush supporters called up stations and demanded that it never be played.

Asked to explain why their tactics work, Maines said, "when you're in the corporate world, and when that's your livlihood, and when 100 people e-mail you that that they'll never listen to your station again, you get scared of losing your job. And why did they need to stand up for us? They're not our friends. They're not our family. And they cave." [CBS's "60 Minutes," May 14, 2006]


THE PLAME CASE

But what's most troubling is that this intolerance toward dissent is not simply overzealous Bush supporters acting out, but rather loyal followers who are getting their signals from the top levels of the Bush administration.

For instance, a new federal court filing by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney apparently instigated the campaign to punish former Ambassador Wilson for his criticism of the administration's claims that Iraq had sought enriched uranium from Africa. After reading Wilson's July 6, 2003, opinion article in the New York Times, Cheney scrawled questions in the space above the article, according to the court filing. Cheney's questions would soon shape the hostile talking points that White House officials and their right-wing supporters would spread against Wilson and his CIA officer wife, Valerie Plame.

"Those annotations support the proposition that publication of the Wilson Op-Ed acutely focused the attention of the Vice President and the defendant---his chief of staff [I. Lewis Libby]---on Mr. Wilson, on the assertions made in his article, and on responding to these assertions," according to a May 12, 2006, filing by Fitzgerald.

Cheney's questions addressed the reasons why the CIA sent Wilson to Niger in 2002 to check out---and ultimately discredit---suspicions about Iraq allegedly seeking "yellowcake" uranium from Africa.

"Have they [CIA officials] done this sort of thing before?" Cheney wrote. "Send an Amb[assador] to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?"

Though Cheney did not write down Plame's name, his questions indicate that he was aware that she worked for the CIA and was in a position (dealing with WMD issues) to have a hand in her husband's assignment to check out the Niger reports.

Over the next several days, White House officials, including Libby and Bush's political adviser Karl Rove, disseminated information about Plames's CIA identity to journalists in the context of knocking down Wilson's critical article. In effect, the White House tried to cast Wilson's trip as a case of nepotism arranged by his wife.

On July 14, 2003, Plame was publicly identified as a CIA operative in a column by right-wing commentator Robert Novak, destroying her career at the CIA and forcing the spy agency to terminate the undercover operation that she had headed. A CIA complaint to the Justice Department prompted an investigation into the illegal exposure of a CIA officer.

Initially, when the investigation was still under the direct control of Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bush and other White House officials denied any knowledge about the leak. Bush pretended that he wanted to get to the bottom of the matter.

"If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush said on Sept. 30, 2003. "I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true."

Yet, even as Bush was professing his curiosity and calling for anyone with information to step forward, he was withholding the fact that he had authorized the declassification of some secrets about the Niger uranium issue and had ordered Cheney to arrange for those secrets to be given to reporters.

In other words, though Bush knew a great deal about how the anti-Wilson scheme got started---since he was involved in starting it---he uttered misleading public statements to conceal the White House role and possibly to signal to others that they should follow suit in denying knowledge.


FAILED COVER-UP

The cover-up might have worked, except in late 2003, Ashcroft recused himself because of a conflict of interest, and Fitzgerald---the U.S. Attorney in Chicago---was named as the special prosecutor. Fitzgerald pursued the investigation far more aggressively, even demanding that journalists testify about the White House leaks.

In October 2005, Fitzgerald indicted Libby on five counts of perjury, lying to investigators and obstruction of justice. In a court filing on April 5, 2006, Fitzgerald added that his investigation had uncovered government documents that "could be characterized as reflecting a plan to discredit, punish, or seek revenge against Mr. Wilson "because of his criticism of the administration's handling of the Niger evidence.

Beyond the actual Plame leak, the White House oversaw a public-relations strategy to denigrate Wilson. The Republican National Committee put out talking points ridiculing Wilson, and the Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee made misleading claims about his honesty in a WMD report.

Rather than thank Wilson for undertaking a difficult fact-finding trip to Niger for no pay---and for reporting accurately about the dubious Iraq-Niger claims---the Bush administration sought to smear the former ambassador and, in doing so, destroyed his wife's career and the effectiveness of her undercover work on WMDs. Plame has since quit the CIA.

The common thread linking the Plame case to the attacks on the Dixie Chicks and other anti-war celebrities is Bush's all-consuming intolerance of dissent.

Rather than welcome contrary opinions and use them to refine his own thinking, Bush operates from the premise that his "gut" judgements are right and all they require is that the American people get in line behind him.

Bush then views any continued criticism as evidence of disloyalty. While Bush will tolerate people voicing disagreement, he feels they should pay a steep price, exacted by Bush's loyalists inside and outside the government.

So, when Bush's supporters malign his critics as "traitors" and spit out other hate-filled expressions bordering on exhortations to violence, Bush sees no obligation to rein in the intimidating rhetoric.

Instead, Bush almost seems to relish the punishments meted out to Americans who dissent.


Source: Consortium News
Story By: Robert Parry
May 16, 2006

*Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book is: Secrecy & privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.









VA PREFERS TO TALK TO REPS "THEY" CONSIDER ACCREDITED...........................


The Veterans Administration Regional Office prefers to talk to veterans' representatives it considers accredited. Local veterans groups and some veterans say it's an example of federal inefficiency.

*It's an example of federal inefficiency and arrogance!

When the American Legion invited several official groups to an April 19 meeting about problems processing medical claims, regional office Director Sam Jarvis left a phone message declining. One reason he cited, "You guys aren't accredited."

*This American Legion probably isn't supporting this Republican administration. How did they pick them out? Probably through the President's wiretapping program!

Jim Smith, a veterans and service officer with American Legion Post 15, said he was once accredited with five organizations, and the accreditation is simply a certificate granted by the VA's general counsel. Smith said the issue of who is officially accredited isn't central to the discussion of getting veterans' medical claims handled in a timely manner.

*The VA is putting on a front. Trying to make it look as if they are there for all the veterans when it is quite obvious that they are not. Someone at this Post probably went to the Veterans March or spoke out against the VA. The VA is turning their backs on any veterans organizations who doesn't agree with this Republican administration! That's the bottom line!

In March 2005, the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson told Congress he expected processing times to drop to 145 days for the fiscal year, a target that had been changed from a prior goal of 100 or fewer days. According to media reports, a Sept. 22, 2005, VA report showed that the department's average time to process disability claims was 167 days for the first 11 months of the 2005 fiscal, which ended Sept. 30. In the case of disability compensation, which pays veterans for injuries sustained while serving in the military, the report said 4,300 cases from August had taken longer than a year to decide.

Specialist Jason Bowerman, 33, a mechanic and convoy security officer with the National Guard, suffered back injuries during a mortar attack in late 2004. He can't understand why the VA has been so slow in providing medical treatment that may let him return to work.

*Because the VA is not prepared for the returning troops who served in our most recent wars. James Nicholson "claims" that they are, but they aren't. The VA misrepresented the numbers of our returning injured, so it looks better to the public, and they didn't request enough money for the budget to be able to attend to the needs of our new veterans. All to make the wars in the Middle East look like they aren't as bad as their opposition is claiming it to be!

"I came back in February 2005," he said. "They've only done three tests on me. Doctors' appointments have been few and far between."

Bowerman said he kept asking for an explanation, and finally an administrator at the VA Medical Center told him they were understaffed.

"The battle wasn't over once I got back," he said.

Bowerman and his wife were successful in getting a CT scan scheduled, but only after they were interviewed about their dilemna by a Tulsa television station.

*Is this what it takes? Television publicity? Now you veterans know how to get things done. Go to your local television stations! Not the national corporate stations because they work for Bush!

Jason McClellan, assistant director at the VA's Muskogee regional office, said his department has met with Jim Smith to discuss general veteran's issues but considers Smith a private citizen.

"The VA established coalitions with veterans groups who can legally petition for benefits," he said. "Private citizens cannot legally represent them."

*Yeah, right!

McClellan said service organizations located in the federal building have "full access" to regional VA staff.

"We have met with Mr. Smith and some of his peers as a gesture of goodwill," he said.

McClellan said veterans service organizations located in the building include American Legion, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

*Didn't this all start out just because an American Legion Post wanted some questions answered? The VA isn't anything like it used to be! If you want results, call your local news stations or papers!



POWER SHUT OFF AFTER WOMAN OWES A PENNY..................................................


It was just a penny, but to Consumers Energy it was enough to cut power in a local home. Jacqueline Williams, 41, of Flint had an electricity bill of $1,662.08 and paid all of it, except for one cent. That wasn't enough for the power company, which blacked her out for seven hours Wednesday.

The CMS Energy Corp. subsidiary told Williams the power would not be turned on until the penny was received.

"I went down there, paid my penny and got a receipt," Williams told the Flint Journal.

Shortly after, the electricity was turned back on.

"All of this for one penny," said Williams, who went to the state Department of Human Services for help in April and was told the agency would pay most of the bill.

But she was still short more than $500.

Williams, a Social Security recipient, went to the Salvation Army, where she received $430.67, and Consumers agreed to match $430.66 toward this bill.

However, she was still one cent short.

A Consumers Energy spokesman said that the utility had no choice in the matter, though he was not aware of any similar incidents where service was stopped for one cent.

"This was the first time I've heard about it," said Terry DeDoes. He said the company has many programs to help people who fall behind in their utility bills.

Williams said she doesn't want to find herself in the same situation again.

"I'm praying to God I stay on top of my bills," she said.

Source: The Flint Journal (Michigan)
Story By: The Associated Press
CBS NEWS
May 16, 2006

*This was all made possible by this Republican administration and his Energy Task Force. There are many more stories out there like this and if the Republicans stay in office, you are going to her many more just like it!
BUSH USES FDA TO SHIELD BIG PHARMA FROM LAWSUITS---PART III................


This is Part III and the conclusion to this OpEd article.


....To put the number of injuries into perspective, Dr. Graham told members of the committee that instead of side-effects from a drug, to think of it as if they were talking about jetliners.

"If there were an average of 150 to 200 people on an aircraft," he said, "this range of 88,000 to 138,000 would be the rough equivalent of 500 to 900 aircraft dropping from the sky."

"This translates to 2-4 aircraft every week," he advised, "week in and week out, for the past five years."

"If you were confronted by this situation," Dr. Graham asked the panel, "what would be your reaction, what would you want to know and what would you do about it?"He noted the problems with the FDA's reliance on a 95% paradigm. In other words, he said, a drug is considered safe "until you can show with 95% or greater certainty that it is not safe."

The scientist condemned the FDA's failure to acknowledge the Vioxx risks sooner. "I strongly believe that this should have been, and largely could have been, avoided," Dr. Graham told the committee.

Ms. Menziess often cites his testimony to demonstrate that the FDA's position on preemption is wrong and states: "Dr. Graham's testimony illustrates why FDA approval and subsequent post-marketing acquiescence should have no preemptive effect."

The Vioxx matter caught the attention of the Senate Finance Committee basically because of the drug's cost to government programs like Medicaid and Medicare. The committe is responsible for oversight of the two programs.

At the November 18, 2004 hearing, Senator Max Baucus discussed the high-costs related to the drug: "In the 5 years that Vioxx was on the market, Medicaid spent more than $1B on the drug," he said.

In addition to the prescription costs, government programs are now paying for the damage caused by Vioxx. "Medicaid bears the cost of an additional medical care necessary when drugs cause injury," Senator Baucus pointed out.

By far, the Vioxx debacle is the most serious public health failre to occur since the FDA took on the authority for safe oversight of medical products in 1938.

On September 3, 2005, Shane Ellison, a former pharmaceutical chemist turned whistleblower and author of the book, "Health Myths Exposed," gave an interview to Crusador Magazine and discussed Vioxx and the problems within the FDA.

According to Mr. Ellison, the FDA and Merck knew about the dangers of Vioxx for at least 4 years before it was pulled off the market. "Instead of removing the drug immediately," he said, "they kept it on the drug market for matters of wealth not health."

Mr. Ellison says compliant politicians have "democratized" the industry. "This means that drug approval is a matter of 51% telling the other 49% that deadly drugs are safe and necessary," he reports. "Science and choice no longer prevail at the FDA or at pharmaceutical companies," he added.

"To go against the 51% means losing your career," Mr. Ellsion explains. "Therefore, the majority of scientists choose to please drug companies, not the general public."

To substantiate this allegation, Dr. Ellsion points to Dr. Curt Furberg, a member of the FDA's drug safety advisory committee. Dr. Furberg went public with findings that Bextra also caused heart attacks and strokes and said studies "showed that Bextra is no different than Vioxx, and Pfizer is trying to suppress that information," in the British National Journal.

"Immediately thereafter," Mr. Ellison said, "Dr. Furberg was barred from serving on the panel that was responsible for considering the safety of cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX 2) inhibitors."

"The end result being more votes in favor of COX 2 inhibitors, the drug company wins by votes---not science," he told Crusador.

Another relevant, but little-mentioned fact, is that many FDA officials end up working for Big Pharma. "The old joke is that the FDA is sort of like a showcase for a future job in the drug industry," Robert Whitaker, author of Mad In America, said in an August 2005 interview with Street Spirit.

"You go there, you work awhile, then you go off into the drug industry," he said, "the progression that people make, in essence they're making good old boy network connections, so they're not going to be harsh on the drug companies."

In addition, when leaving office many federal employees and members of Congress go to work for Big Pharma in one area or another. For instance, of the 1,274 people registered to lobby in Washington for drug companies in 2003, according to an April 2005 report by the Center for Public Integrity, 476 are former federal officials, including 40 members of Congress.

Critics say the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, is in large part to blame, for the current problems with the FDA. The Act allows the agency to collect a fee from a drug company seeking approval for a new drug. In return, the FDA is expected to complete the review process within 12 months.

User fees now account for about 40% of the approval process, which means the FDA is dependent on drug companies for nearly half of its funding. This situation creates a major conflict of interest according to Dr. Graham: "This culture views the pharmaceutical industry it is supposed to regulate as it s client. It overvalues the benefits of the drugs it approves, and seriously undervalues, disregards and disrespects drug safety," he told members of Congress.

Another problem he said is that even when the FDA does try to take measures to limit harm, the agency lacks the authority to force drug companies to comply. For example with Vioxx, he said, it took more than 2 years to get Merck to add the increased risk of heart attacks and stroke on the label.

Then there is the matter of the conflicts of interests involving the FDA panels that advise the agency on which drugs should be approved, what their warning labels should say, and how studies should be conducted.

The approximately 300 experts on the 18 committees make decisions that affect billions of dollars in sales and with very few exceptions the FDA follows their advice.

Members of the panels are supposed to be free of conflicts of interest relating to products they consider but they rarely are. For example, in February 2005, when the hearings were held to determine whether the COX-2 inhibitors should be allowed to remain on the market, a panel mired with conflicts was exposed. Out of the 32 voting members, ten had served as consultants to Merck and Pfizer in recent years.

This revelation prompted Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, along with Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), to ask the General Accounting Office to look into the FDA's practice of letting scientists serve on panels when they have conflicts of interest.

"We are concerned about the process that supports FDA's decisions to waive conflicts of interest rules for scientisits with financial ties to the manufacturers of the products under consideration, or their competitors," said their letter to the GAO in September 2005.

"These practices appear to have undermined the public's faith in the objectivity and fairness of FDA's advisory committees," they wrote. The Senators specifically referred to the conflicts among the panels that studied the Cox-2 inhibitors like Vioxx.

According to Ms. Menzeiss, "The FDA's preemption argument, if successful, would take away the sole means by which American consumers may obtain compensation for drug-induced injuries caused by a drug company's failure to warn."

"Civil lawsuits uncover internal company documents to which not even the FDA has access," she explains.

"The tort system provides an important check on the regulatory process and on drug companies' compliance with law."

"Preemption," Ms. Menzeiss warns, "would close off one of the few avenues by which we learn of safety and efficacy information that pharmaceutical companies do not publish or hide from FDA."


Source: OpEd News
Story By: Evelyn Pringle
May 13, 2006

*Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

THE "REAL" SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA)---PART II.......................................


...These are the kinds of hearings Specter holds. They are not designed to provide oversight, protect the Constitution, or protect civil liberties. Instead, Specter's so-called hearings serve but one purpose: to justify whatever illegal behavior Dear Leader may have been caught doing, or to approve Dear Leader's choice for a judicial appointment---no matter how radical. Specter's "hearings" are designed to be nothing more than political propaganda productions whose only purpose is either to protect Dear Leader, ensure that Dear Leader's appointees succeed, or guarantee that his controversial plans move on to the full Senate.

Nobody but Arlen Specter could pull this off. Bill Frist, Pat Roberts, or even Lindsey Graham's maneuvering would be too obvious, their loyalty to Bush is too evident, but a so-called certifiable moderate like Specter lends immediate legitimacy to the entire stage production.

That is why Bush, Rove, Santorum and the GOP machine came to Specter's rescue. Toomey wouldn't have had the opportunity to head the all-important Judiciary Committee, and even if he had somehow been able to grab this position, or if a bona fide Kool-Aid drinker had been appointed, it wouldn't have worked: they needed Specter. First, however, they had to have his soul. And through Toomey, they were able to force Specter to surrender it to him.

There could be no better cover than Specter the "moderate," who can defend the administration while appearing to oppose it.

How many times has Specter appeared on camera, especially after the revelation of one of Bush's unconstitutional acts, such as the NSA's monitoring of phone calls? How many times has Specter howled indignantly about a situation and declared that a serious investigation was in the offing? How many times has all this turned out to be nothing more than pure theater?

When USA Today revealed Bush's illegal domestic spy program, which recruited AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon to track the phone calls of 200 million Americans, Specter, on cue, appeared before the press to assure the people that hearings were on the way. He was going to provide "some oversight" of this illegal, un-Constitutional spy program and the President.

The media quickly trumpeted the "moderate" Specter's act of heroism and his willingness to stand up to the rogue and criminal President. And to the press, Arlen "The Great GOP Moderate" Specter really is a hero, a "media darling." They are always swift to carry the message that this time moderate Republican Specter is really going to make the President answer for his transgressions.

The results, however, are invariably quite different. The promise to hold Bush accountable for his illegal domestic spy program, for instance, came to naught. The great "moderate" Specter "mollified" Conservatives on the Judicial Committee by doing away entirely with a provision that would require judicial overview of the spy program. That omission allowed the bill to move forward. In the end the hearings only prupose will have been to create for the people the illusion that their rights are being protected and defended, while allowing other Bush puppets to proclaim the wisdom of Dear Leader's domestic spy program. As the bill now stands, it will make it impossible for anyone to take Bush to task for his criminal actions.

More recently still, Specter moved the proceedings for the GOP's Gay Hate Constitutional Amendment behind closed doors. Yes, that is how one defends democracy from tyranny: meet in secret where the people cannot hear what their supposed representatives are saying. When America's "real" defender of the people, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, objected to Specter's dirty deed, the great "moderate" had a fit and Feingold walked out.

Specter did his part as Bush's GOP front man. The Gay Hate Amendment doesn't have the votes to pass, but it is an election year and what crime is it in America for the GOP Majority to lord it over a despised minority like Americas's homosexual commuity? Specter willingly, gleefully did his part to appease the Republican Party's most extreme and radical base---he helped impose tyranny on fellow Americans just because they happen to be sexually "different" and easy targets. Of course, he really did this because, as Bush's front man, that is his job. Yes, that is how one defends the Constitution and demonstrates "moderate" political tendencies!

The Bush-GOP front man was quick to claim that he was "totally opposed" to the measure that he said he made sure would move quickly forward only because it deserved to be debated in the Senate. The obvious question, of course, that the media won't dare ask, is how does writing limitations on freedom and civil liberties into the Constitution merit a debate in the Senate of the United States of America? How can such an act be viewed in any way as "moderate?"

Arlen Specter's cultivated image as a "moderate" provides great cover for Bush's many assaults on the Constitution and the people's civil liberties. Bush and the GOP made sure Specter would be beholden to them, and that is precisely who the real Arlen Specter is---the Bush-GOP front man who sold his soul to the devil in order to win re-election.

The so-called moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee is next. You've been warned Rhode Island, Chafee will be Bush's next bought and paid for front man. His feigned "moderate" label makes for the perfect Bush cover.


Source: The Progressive Daily Beacon
Commentary By: A. Alexander
May 21, 2006