Thursday, November 17, 2005

Burlington Area Progressives

Bu$h et al think it's irresponsible for Americans to want to know how they used the intelligence leading up to the war on Iraq, as was promised. Me thinks they doth protest too much.

People forget that there were WMD inspectors on the ground in Iraq for several months before the invasion and they weren't find anything (despite bu$h's later statement that Saddam wouldn't let the inspectors in and so we had to invade, which is a lie). If Rumsfeldt knew exactly where the WMDS were as he stated presumably he would have directed the inspectors to those locations. But since they were cooking the intelligence to get the war they wanted from day one of this administration and before, they couldn't do that because the inspectors would have found nothing, harming their hidden agenda.

Similarly, when Powell went to the UN, two of his most compelling points were the aerial photographs of the mobile chemical weapons trailers and the terrorist training camp in northeastern Iraq. The WMD trailers were described as being in central Iraq. Everybody knows we had total aerial dominance. So why would these photographed trailers not be traced and why weren't the weapons inspectors directed to their locations? The answer is obvious. The trailers turned out to be producing hydrogen for weather balloons despite the artist renderings that Powell produced at the time. Hardly cause to justify their war.

Furthermore the location of the terrorist training camp in northeastern Iraq was beyond Saddam's control in the independent Kurdish north. So the administration's use of this camp to link Saddam to his Al Qiada enemies is another obvious cooked intel lie. By the way, since the Kurds were our allies and we had aerial dominance of the entire country, it begs the question of why was this terrorist camp allowed to remain operating unmolested when we could have easily taken it out.

And these are just small pieces of a string of lies and misinformation that betrayed the trust of the American people and violated the democratic principle of informed consent. Their lies are coming home to roost. Reality can be denied only so long. They're starting to get a little of what they deserve. It's such a same that so many others have paid so high a cost for their crimes.

It's a shame. If people and the press would only have been paying better attention at that time and engaging their skepticism and critical thinking skills, we might have avoided this cooked up disaster, instead of waiting until now to wake up see the truth. Unfortunately, ignorance/apathy, which are two sides of the same coin, is by far the greatest problem facing our democracy and the root cause of most, if not all of the other problems we're facing.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Getting to the bottom of torture

One more thought to those GOP senators who want to get to the bottom of leaks:

It is vastly more important to put an end to torture in the name of the United States (and find out who's at the bottom/top of that policy) than it is to be concerned with who leaked the existence of the CIA's European hostile-hostels.

Save your rage for those who deserve it--the ones who've undermined what America's stood for far longer than the Republican Revolution.....

Steven Schend

On the elections this week

Listening to the morning natter on the radio driving in today and I came to this conclusion: It was not a victory for the Democrats so much as a failure by the Republicans.

If the Democratic Party lauds itself on the governors' wins in NJ and VA, they're kidding themselves. They were not an organized concern that helped defeat the GOP contenders. What happened on Thursday was two things: A) the voters are fed up with business as usual under the GOP, and B) The GOP failed to do its usual fear tactics to scare people into voting for them.

Me, I'm just glad that Kilgore in Virginia didn't get in, after sending out bogus Democratic/Progressive voting packets (paid for directly by his campaign committee) that urged voters to vote for the independent candidate, not Tim Kaine. Sigh....

If the Dems start thinking they're going to have an easy time taking back the Congress at mid-terms, they're only fooling themselves. They can take advantage of the weakening of the GOP bulwarks, as dissension among the ranks has started to show the GOP as three true parties--the fiscal, social, and religious conservatives--none of whom really agree with the others but have lock-stepped together for years in their mutual hatred of the Clintons.

Me, I just wish the Democrats could find a way to A) produce a consistent message, as opposed to the poll-driven mush-mouthed pablum they've spouted in hopes of never offending or challenging anyone; B) be the opposition party they should've been the past 5 years (and only Harry Reid, Russ Feingold, and scarce others really step up to the plate there); and C) realize they're not going to take the White House in 2008 unless they nominate a governor or someone who never had to vote on going to war in Iraq.

Anyone who gets up now in opposition to the war because it's now popular to be so is doomed by hypocrisy, and I don't care to hear the rationalizations. If you voted for it, you can't claim to have always been against it. And you undermine yourself even more if you whine about how the administration deceived you with bad intel; YOU are responsible for putting such power in their hands because YOU didn't do your job and investigate or even question the rightness of the actions. You ate up the trough of fear they fixed for you, and we're all paying for that.

If the Congress is starting to rethink the fixing of intel and how we got into Iraq, when's anyone other than Feingold really going to start asking the same questions on whether or not we were rooked into other bad decisions like the hypocritically named Patriot Act?

Steven Schend

Friday, September 16, 2005

Vos On Concealed Carry

I sent this letter to Robin Vos yesterday, urging him to reconsider his stand on Concealed Carry. I'd emailed him previously about the issue, not realizing he was a sponsor. He left a message on my answering machine, stating his position and some reasons. This was my response.


Dear Robin –

When we met at the Racine county fair, you indicated to me that you were more a moderate than a “party line” Republican in your opinions and voting habits. Yet, every issue I’ve contacted you on seems to indicate the reverse. Take the issue I recently contacted you on, the “Concealed Carry” proposal.

You are for the Concealed Carry bill. You even indicated that you are one of the sponsors of it.

This is not a moderate position. This is not something that a majority of Wisconsinites, or even the people in your own district, want. This is a position championed by a set of special interests that do not represent the majority of the people.

Additionally, this bill does not meet the “Where’s the need?” criteria. We need more affordable health care. We need a better environment. We need to make sure that people can earn a living for their families. Where’s the need for carrying concealed weapons?

On the whole, Wisconsin is a very safe state to live in. There are no unbiased studies that suggest that adding concealed handguns will make Wisconsin safer.

In your call to me, you cited some statistics. If I remember correctly, the point of them seemed to be that of the 45 (!) states that allow concealed carry permits, some or perhaps all of them have a lesser “gun violence” (or perhaps it was “crime”) rate than Milwaukee or Racine.

Robin, from what I’ve seen, you’re a fairly smart man. Clearly smart enough to know that this is a “weasel statistic.” That is, it’s a statistic that draws a conclusion by comparing two things that are not actually comparable.

A more reasonable statistic would be to compare the violence/crime rates in the major cities in those states to the major cities in ours, or to compare the violence/crime rates in the states overall to those in our state overall. Or, even, to compare the crime rates (and gun violence rates) in those major cities before and after the concealed carry laws were passed.

By your very use of these kind of phony statistics, you’re telling us that you know your argument to be false.

If statistics are a reason to enact gun laws – and I’m not sure they are – then, again, I will cite the case of Japan.

In Japan, it is nearly impossible to own a gun; Japan has virtually no gun violence.

If our aim is to reduce gun violence, clearly the Japanese model is the one to immitate – rather than adding more guns to an already violent American mix.

Last Friday, my wife and children went to the Racine/Burlington football game. When they got home, I was horrified to hear that there had been a shooting after the game. My family was close enough to that shooting to clearly hear the shots. That’s far closer than I ever want anyone to be.

Burlington is a safer place to live than some parts of Racine. Do you really think it is because we have more guns in Burlington? (As opposed to having less poverty, drugs, and crime in general?)

Do you really think that someone in that football crowd having a legally concealed gun would have made the situation SAFER?


Guns are not the answer. More guns in the mix produce more violence.

A registered gun in the parking lot after that game could ONLY have resulted in more shooting – and more potential for loss of innocent life.

If, as you say, you believe that having more guns, concealed guns, would be safe because of a required course or series of gun handling courses, then why not require such courses of ALL gun owners?

If you are honest with yourself, you’ll have to admit that the reasons you’ve given for having a concealed carry law do not hold up to careful scrutiny.

Please, reconsider your position.

Thank you.

-- Steve Sullivan

Monday, September 05, 2005

Feeling a bit rebellious....

Sigh...I'm numb about the Gulf Coast, as it's a catastrophe worthy of all nuances of that word. I'm angry as hell at the lack of leadership on nearly all for those souls who did something (and are now threatened with arrest for trying to save people)...

To quote another angry fellow a few years back with a beef against a corrupt, indulgently rich, ignorant, and morally deficit leadership....

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

You have failed us with spectacularly tragic consequences.

You claim to be a leader, but avoid actually having contact with those you claim to lead (unless they agree with you 110% and have signed a loyalty oath).

You have shown callous disregard for anyone not of your skin color or earning level.

You and your administration seem more concerned with your image and polling than your citizens. By all means, fly across the country for one tragic story you can use for political means (Terry Schiavo) but remain at the ranch for a few days while thousands die of neglect from a hurricane.

No, you're not to blame for the hurricane. You ARE to blame for gutting the budgets of those systems that might have lessened the damage. You ARE to blame for removing the budgets and manpower from the National Guard to Iraq, rather than having their help now. You ARE to blame for putting hopelessly incompetent and unqualified people in charge of both Homeland Security and FEMA. And, last but not least, you ARE to blame for Karl Rove's latest bald-faced lie--that the governor of Louisiana "didn't ask for help or declare a state of emergency." (Thankfully, enough people noticed that she'd declared it as such and asked for federal aid on August 26, not days later as "Turd Blossom" would have us believe.)

(While I'm mentioning her, the governor's showing leadership by hiring the FORMER and QUALIFIED director of FEMA under Clinton to help rebuild Louisiana; you're patting your guy on the back while he's obviously failed in every way to do his job. Guess he's next in line for a Medal of Freedom like George Tenet, another guy whose 9/11 intelligence failures got him the nation's highest civilian honor?)

You lied to us to get two wars, which have only destabilized the world rather than made it safer. The only people better off than they were four years ago are employees of Halliburton, their stock shares forever safe, regardless of how many episodes of false charges and corruption pop up.

Your only successes come in lies and graft to your political cronies.

Your only truths are when you are "off script," and your spin doctors spend weeks throwing lies atop it to explain what you really meant, when we all heard you loud and clear the first time.

"Now is not the time for finger-pointing," because all the fingers point at you and yours and the failures that cannot be denied.

Thousands are dead, at home and abroad, thanks to your failures as a leader, as a president, and as a man.

Where's your Mission Accomplished banner now, Mr. Bush? If your true purpose was to create an oligarchal society where the rich ignore the plight of the poor and blame them for not having the means by which to save themselves, it's drapped all across the southern border on the Gulf.

Despite using Jefferson to open this screed, no, I'm not fomenting war or secession or open rebellion.

I believe there are enough good people, thinking people, caring people, who can save this country from you and your sociopathic oligarchs. We owe it as a true testament to people who gave their lives protecting our country as far back as the 18th century.

I think no amount of spin can bury your administration's lies of the past week, even with a flaccid White House press corps such as we have at present. Thankfully, the press has a few members finally uttering truths and letting themselves get angry and confronting the lies ON CAMERA during the hurricane aftermath coverage.

Misters Bush, Cheney, and all your ilk--stand notice. This country is mad as hell with you and
it's not going to take it any more.

Now is our time to take back our country by showing that we care more for our neighbors and our friends than our so-called leaders.

We want a United States, not Red/Blue States and a constant state of friction.

We want intelligent debate AND leadership that benefits a majority of citizens, not a fat-cat minority deciding what's news and what's "the bias of the liberal media."

One thing that can't be spun or ignored (but apparently it has been forgotten): Liberals formed this country's ideals, not people preaching the status quo or staying the course. Liberals shed the first blood shed for this country, not those wanting to protect their fiscal interests.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Forseeable Disaster - Forseeable Bungling

Where to start with Hurricane Katrina? Well, start by clicking the link on the right of this blog and contributing to the Red Cross -- or contribute to another relief agency of your own choosing.

After that, stop listening to the lies foisted on you by the government and corporate controlled media.

Recently, President Bush told us that no one could have forseen this.

That may be true for him -- but the rest of us might care to read the reports and recommendations of our own agencies, including the 2001 one from FEMA which predicted EXACTLY this disaster. Or maybe this article, from the same year:

(Hopefully, that link works. If not, go to the root and search for New Orleans flood.)

Air America Radio, and particularly Rachel Maddow (filling in for Al Franken) have done good coverage of the flood and the bungling that has followed (and preceeded) it.

Check that out, and you can also click through to the passionate speech by the Mayor of New Orleans.

Bush, apparently, agrees that his administration has bungled the relief effort:

And, of course, we all know where he was while this disaster was in progress -- vacation and making political speeches and, if you can believe it, strumming guitar while New Orleans flodded.

Is it any wonder things are going badly?

Anyone who's seen how they've handled the aftermath of the Iraq war could have predicted this bungling. The money and human resources (including the National Guard) that could be rushing to the striken South are, instead, in Iraq.

Will this disaster, the war fiasco, and $3/gallon gasoline be enough to bring this neglectful, corrupt administration toppling down?

Has the true, evil face of the rich, greedy, and well connected finally revealed its face for all to see? Consider this, amid the thousands of homeless, Bush is promising his friend and political supporter Trent Lott a new home (to replace the lavish one he lost) with a new front porch that both of them can sit on.

Let's send them both there now.

It's time to get rid of these greedy incompetents.

Let's throw the whole lot of them out of office.

America can do better.

But only with better leadership. Leadership that's interested in more than lining their own pockets (and those of their friends) and getting re-elected.

Rise up, America!

-- SDS

Upcoming Speakers

ED GARVEY from Fighting Bob Fest
September 28, 7 PM
Topic: Recapturing our democracy from political corruption

DARCY HABER from Wisconsin Citizens Action
October 20, 7 PM
Topic: Changing unfair practices at companies like Walmart.

BILLY FEITLINGER from Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans
November 17, 7 PM
Topic: Social Security

DAVE BERKMAN from Wisconsin Public Radio
January 19th, 2006, 7 PM
Topic: How the Mainstream Media have Reported-- and Misreported-- the War

All speakers will be at the CATHE center (current and soon-to-be former United Methodist Church) , one block west of the Post Office -- 125 E. State St. Burlington, WI 53139

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Welcome to the blog for Burlington Area Progressives.

We hope to use this space to educate and inform the public on issues we feel important.

We invite interested people to join our yahoo group --

-- And engage in ongoing conversation on issues relevant to our community and the world.

Stay tuned to this space for information on issues needing action and on upcoming group meetings.

-- Steve Sullivan for BAP