AIG pays themselves bonuses afterall! Unbelievable

During the Thanksgiving holiday, and probably attempting to go under the radar, AIG is giving top managers “cash awards” to stay with the firm. We’ve been scammed again. Call your Congressperson and ask what they are going to do about it. Seems AIG should be paying our money back at this point. They are over the top in the definition of bold.

Read the article at Bloomberg News online

Bail Out? Did Anyone Read It?

OK the bailout, as written on Monday, was 110 pages.  John McCain admitted in an interview that he hadn’t had time to read it over the weekend when it was 3 pages.  Surely he didn’t read the 110 pages on Monday.  The Senate voted this evening on a revised version that included 451 pages.  I’m wondering if anyone read it.  I think I’m safe guessing McCain didn’t read it if he couldn’t read Paulson’s version when it was 3 pages, or was it two… can’t remember now while worrying about our future.

I’m guessing Obama didn’t read it either.  Realistically, how could he fit in 451 pages of reading while campaigning. Yet all of them are crying that we need this now and fast.

I’m wondering if anyone knows what they are voting for?  Now the bail out package is being called a “Rescue Package”.  I guess they feel that sounds better to us in accepting it.   The bottom line is, we’re not getting rescued, nobody has a clue what they are voting for, the folks that wrote it were part of the problem that created this mess, and we’re getting screwed again.

Wall Street Bail Out Deal – Call/Email Congress Now

Here’s the deal on the bail out as it stands today – all 110 of it.

Call Congress and tell them NO!

From David Sirota:

“There’s news this Sunday afternoon of a congressional deal to bailout Wall Street fat cats with $700 billion of taxpayer cash (you can read the draft legislation here). Though the deal negotiated between congressional leaders and the White House is better than what Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson originally proposed early last week, it remains an insulting atrocity, having omitted even basic aid to homeowners, bankruptcy reforms and any modicum of future financial industry regulation. Jere are the top 5 reasons (in no order) why every single member of Congress – Democrat and Republican – should vote this sucker down. Please feel free to copy and paste this post into an email to your congressperson:”


When an individual consumer uses a new credit card to pay off astounding debt from an old credit card, it’s called kiting, and in many cases, it is illegal. Apparently, though, when the government does it, it’s billed as Serious Public Policy. Because that’s what this supposedly prudent bailout bill would do: Force taxpayers to borrow $700 billion from foreign banks to pay off the bad debt of Wall Street banks. During a crisis that is aimed at preventing interest rates from skyrocketing, nobody has been able to explain how adding almost a trillion dollars to the interest rate-exacerbating national debt would do anything other than undermine the plan’s underlying objective. Worse, the U.S. Treasury Department itself admits that the $700 billion number is “not based on any particular data point” – that is, they created it out of thin air because “We just wanted to choose a really large number.” Slapping that amount of money onto the national credit card when our government can’t even justify the amount is beyond absurd – it is insane.

It didn’t have to be this way, of course. As I noted in my newspaper column this week, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a temporary tax on millionaires to finance part of this bailout. Similarly, Blue Dog Democrats proposed a future tax on financial firms if and when taxpayers lose cash on the deal. These proposals were discarded in favor of language asking the government to “submit a plan to Congress on how to recoup any losses,” according to the Associated Press. Not only is that language toothless, but it opens up the possibility of a plan being submitted that says we should raise middle-class taxes or slash middle-class social programs to pay for Wall Street’s misbehavior.


Primum non nocere is the latin phrase for “first do no harm” – the priority principle for any EMT working on a sick patient. It should be the same priority for Congress at this moment – and a growing group of esteemed experts on both the Right and Left are insisting that this bailout bill could make things worse. Here’s a review:

  • The Washington Post reported on Friday, almost 200 academic economists “have signed a petition organized by a University of Chicago professor objecting to the plan on the grounds that it could create perverse incentives, that it is too vague and that its long-run effects are unclear.”
  • NYU’s Nouriel Roubini, the visionary who had been predicting this meltdown, says “The Treasury plan (even in its current version agreed with Congress) is very poorly conceived and does not contain many of the key elements of a sound and efficient and fair rescue plan.”
  • Harvard’s Ken Rogoff, a Former Federal Rerserve and IMF official, insists that the prospect of this bailout is, unto itself, taking a manageable problem and making it into a more intense crisis. He says that credit is frozen primarily because banks want to avoid dealing with other banks that might drive a hard bargain, and instead would rather wait for free money from the government. Without the prospect of that free money, Rogoff suggests that credit would probably begin moving again, if slowly.
  • Dean Baker of the Center on Economic and Policy Research says that spending so much cash so quickly on such a poorly conceived plan could have the effect of making it impossible to fund economic stimulus that is the real way out of this mess. “Suppose the Paulson plan goes through,” he writes. “It is virtually certain that the economy will weaken further and the number of foreclosures and people without jobs will continue to rise. This is the fallout from a collapsing housing bubble…When families respond to their loss of home equity by cutting back their consumption it will deepen the recession. In this context it might prove very important to have the resources needed to provide a substantial stimulus. [and] there is no doubt that this bailout will make further stimulus much more difficult to sell politically.”

Meanwhile, it’s not even close to clear that this is a problem that requires such an enormous response. As mentioned above, the Treasury Department admits it has absolutely no factual basis for requesting $700 billion – an amount equivalent to about 5 percent of our entire economy. Additionally, the Washington Post reports that “Banks throughout the United States carried on with the business of making loans yesterday even as federal officials warned again that their industry is on the verge of collapse, suggesting that the overheated language on Capitol Hill may not reflect the reality on many Main Streets.” Indeed, “many smaller banks said they were actually benefiting from the problems on Wall Street” and “even some of the nation’s largest banks, which have pushed hard for a federal bailout, deny that the current situation is forcing them to reduce lending.”

The questions, then, are simple: In the face of this bipartisan opposition from objective experts, why should a lawmaker instead believe the same Bush officials who helped create this crisis with their deregulation, the same Bush officials who just months ago said everything was AOK? Shouldn’t there be almost complete unanimity among both objective and partisan observers before spending 5 percent of our entire economy after just one harried week of White House demands? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It’s time, as The Who said, that we “don’t get fooled again.”


The mantra throughout the week has been that America has “no choice” but to pass Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s $700 billion giveaway – that, in effect, there are no alternatives. But that’s an out-and-out lie – one with a motive: Making it seem as if the only thing we can do is hand the keys to the federal treasury over to both parties’ corporate campaign contributors.

The truth is, there are a number of alternatives. Here are just a few:

  • In the Washington Post last week, Galbraith outlined a multi-pronged plan shoring up and expanding the FDIC, creating a Home Owners Loan Corporation, resurrecting Nixon’s federal revenue sharing, and taxing stock transactions (a tax that would fall mostly on speculators) to finance the whole deal.
  • The Service Employees International Union has drafted a plan based around a massive investment in public services and national health care, and regulatory reforms preventing foreclosures and forcing banks to renegotiate the predatory terms of their bad mortgages.
  • For those in the mindless, zombie-ish “someone has to do something, so we have to do what the White House says!” camp, consider the possibility that you are under the spell of the same kind of White House fear that led us to invade Iraq because of Saddam’s supposed WMD. Consider, perhaps, that there may not even be a compelling basis for doing anything just yet (or at least not anything nearly so huge), and that the whole reason there is this urgent push right now has nothing to do with the financial situation, and everything to do with creating the political dynamic to pass a wasteful giveaway – one that couldn’t be passed otherwise without a sense of emergency. And ask yourself why you would listen to this White House instead of listening to those experts who have been predicting this crisis and are now advising against this bailout – experts like CEPR’s Baker. In two separate posts (here and here), he says that letting the problem play out could be the best path, because Treasury and the Fed may already have the tools they need. Following this path, the worst thing that happens is “The Fed and Treasury will have to step in and take over the banks [which] is exactly what many economists argue should happen anyhow,” Baker writes. “So the outcome of the worst case scenario is a really frightening day in which the whole world financial system is shaken to its core, followed by a government takeover of the banks. Eventually the government straightens out the books and sells them off again. But the real threat here is not to the economy, it is to the banks.”
  • Then there is the idea of simply taking the $700 billion and simply give it to struggling homeowners to help them pay off part of their mortgages. This hasn’t even been discussed but the thought experiment it involves is important to understanding why there is, indeed, an alternative to the Paulson plan. If the root of this problem is people not being able to pay off their mortgages, and those defaults then devaluing banks’ mortgage-backed assets, then simply helping people pay their mortgages would preserve the value of the mortgage-backed assets and recharge the market with liquidity. That would be a bottom-up solution helping the mass public, rather than a top-down move helping only financial industry executives.

On this latter proposal, some may argue that giving any relief to homeowners is “unfair” in that those homeowners created their problems, so why should taxpayers have to help them? But then, is helping homeowners any less fair than simply giving all the money away to Wall Street, no strings attached? I’d say no – and helping homeowners also serves a second purpose: namely, keeping people in their homes, which not only helps them, but helps an entire neighborhood (as any homeowner knows, nearby properties can be devalued when foreclosures hit).


As a preface, let me state that I think we live in a country where politicians too often listen to their donors and to the Establishment rather than their constituents, not the other way around. America is a country where our leaders dishonestly invoke the concepts of “Statesmanship” and “Seriousness” and their supposed hatred of “pandering” to justify ignoring what the public wants (as if giving the public what it wants is somehow not the objective of a democratic republic). So, in short, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this bill being “politicized” by coming down the pike right before an election – in fact, I think it’s a good thing because the election – and the fear of being thrown out of office forces our politicians to at least consider what the public wants. I mean, really – would we rather have this decision made after the election, when the public can be completely ignored?

Polls overwhelmingly show a public that sees voting for this bill as an act of economic treason whereby the bipartisan Washington elite robs taxpayer cash to give their campaign contributors a trillion-dollar gift. As just two of many examples, Bloomberg News’ poll shows “decisive” opposition to the bailout proposal, and Rasmussen reports that their surveys show “the more voters learn about the proposed $700 billion federal bailout plan for the U.S. economy, the more they don’t like it.” Put another way, this bailout proposal has unified both the Right and Left sides of the populist uprising that I described in my new book and that is now even more angry than ever.

Any sitting officeholder that votes for this – whether a Democrat or a Republican – should expect to get crushed under a wave of populist-themed attacks from their opponents. We’ve already seen it start. In Oregon, Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley (D) is airing scathing television ads hammering Republican incumbent Gordon Smith for potentially supporting the deal. Similarly, this morning on Meet the Press, we saw Republican Senate challenger Bob Schaffer (CO) dishonestly papering over his own votes for deregulation and ripping into his opponent Rep. Mark Udall (D) for potentially supporting the deal. Incumbents, get ready for that kind of election-changing heat in your face if you vote “yes.”

This, by the way, could play out in the presidential contest. Barack Obama has been taking the advice of the Wall Street insiders in his campaign in endorsing this bailout. McCain has endorsed the vague outline, but he may ultimately back off once he sees the details, allowing him to then run the last month of the campaign as the economic populist in the race. I’m not saying it would work, considering McCain’s 26-year record of supporting the deregulatory agenda that created this crisis. But such a move could end up help him flank Obama on the defining economic issues of the race.


The amount of brazen corruption and conflicts of interest swirling around this deal is odious, even by Washington’s standards – and polls suggest the public inherently understands that. Consider these choice nuggets:

  • Warren Buffett is simultaneously advising Obama to support the deal, while he himself is investing in the company that stands to make the most off the deal.
  • McCain’s campaign is run by lobbyists from the companies that stand to make a killing off a no-strings government bailout.
  • The New York Times reports that the person advising Paulson and Bernanke on the AIG bailout was the CEO of Goldman Sachs – a company with a $20 billion stake in AIG.
  • The Obama campaign’s top spokesman pushing this deal is none other than Roger Altman, who Bloomberg News reports is simultaneously “advising a group of investors who are trying to prevent their shares from being diluted in the U.S. takeover of American International Group Inc.” – that is, who have a direct financial interest in the current iteration of the bailout.

Add to this the fact that the negotiations over this bill have been largely conducted in secret, and you have one of the most sleazy heists in American history.


If this bill passes, it will be a profound referendum on the dominance of money over democracy in America. That – and that alone – would be the only thing an objective observer could take away from the whole thing.

Money will have compelled politicians to not only vote for substantively dangerous policy, but vote for that policy even at their own clear electoral peril. Such a vote will confirm that the only people these politicians believe they are responsible for representing are are the fat-cat recipients of the $700 billion – the same fat cats who underwrite their political campaigns, the same fat-cats who engineered this crisis, and want to keep profiteering off it. Any lawmaker who takes that position is selling out the country, as is any issue-based political non-profit group – liberal or conservative – that uses its resources to defend a “yes” vote rather than demand a “no” vote. This is a bill that forces taxpayers to absorb all of the pain, and Wall Street executives to reap all of the gain. It doesn’t even force the corporate executives (much less the government leaders) culpable in this free fall to step down – it lets them stay fat and happy in their corner office suites in Manhattan.

Even if they believe that something must be done right now, lawmakers should still vote no on this specific bill, and force one of the very prudent alternatives to the forefront. They shouldn’t just vote no on Paulson’s proposal – they should vote hell no. Our economy’s future depends on it.

Neat Sunlight Foundation site

This site shows the most mentioned word in Congress for the day.

For June 20th, the word was oil.

Jill Martinez needs to update her campaign website

But will she?

Marta Jorgensen has made it clear that she has rejoined the CA 24th Congressional race. She has withdrawn her endorsement of Martinez. Martinez continues to display on her website misinformation pertaining to endorsements and who she is running against.

Campaign stated references to any participation in Helsinki, Finland, are unreferenced and also suspect. When questioned about this activity, the Martinez campaign lacked independent references to support Martinez’s involvement in any peace committee there.

In addition to ongoing dishonesty concerning campaign funds, it is clear to this voter that we don’t need to welcome this candidate as the Democratic nomination. In fact, these issues raise serious questions about Martinez’s ability to even face off against Gallegly. Does the Martinez campaign truly believe Gallegly wouldn’t be able to slice through this nonsense in a nanosecond? This behavior does more of a disservice to voters hoping for change and responsible leadership then doing them any service.

It is this author’s belief that we have had enough dishonesty and shady dealings in Washington to allow these issues to go unnoticed. Having remained silent in hope that the Martinez shenanigans would stop, given all the sources available on the internet to prove them otherwise, it has become clear they won’t. Is all of this hype a desperate attempt to pay off the nearly $100,000 of debt since her failed 2006 campaign? With the opportunity to have raised money for the last two years, clearly the Martinez campaign fundraising efforts have been poor.

Additionally, this type of campaign behavior and dishonest hype do more harm to the local Democratic groups than support the cause. Gallegly has done little to help the 24th district, his voting record has done quite a bit of harm to the nation as a whole.

This blog supports Mary Pallant‘s candidacy on integrity, values, and experience. There is also Marta Jorgensen, that deserves acknowledgment, although not this blog’s endorsement.

Registered Democratic voters now outnumber Republicans in Ventura County and are closing the gap in other parts of the 24th district. This can be a great year for this district. But the dishonest campaign hype and back stabbing needs to stop.

It is time for local Democrats to truly investigate the candidates, question and read carefully, and proceed in a unified manner to bring this district home. Every voter has a right to question candidates’ statements and their resume. If something sounds outlandish, ask for an independent reference. If their only reference points to their website, or outdated information two years old, there should be pause for thought before proceeding.

Here’s wishing us the best in 2008. Remember to vote on June 3rd!

Vote Shirley Golub June 3rd in San Francisco

Great commercial. What is Nancy Pelosi doing in Congress? She seems more Republican than anything else.

Impeachment IS Possible

This is an interview with David Swanson and Cindy Piester presented by Ventura County’s Citizens for Impeachment Patriot Series. Filmed in Ventura on April 23, 2008.

Great information and perspective. Watch it here.

After viewing, consider, do we want to keep Elton Gallegly, our 24th District California House Representative in Congress after he has voted almost exclusively in favor of Bush/Cheney policies? Elton Gallegly sits in the House Judiciary Committee and has the power to vote for impeachment, and doesn’t. Torture is a war crime that is recognized internationally. Perhaps our officials will be held accountable for voting for it. Bush and Cheney may be accused by other countries when they travel. Hopefully so.

Remember that our children and grandchildren will have to pay off the debt amassed by this ruinous administration.

Listen, read carefully and vote wisely.

This blog supports Mary Pallant for Congress. The only 24th district candidate that openly supports impeachment. You’ll hear David Swanson’s support of Mary Pallant near the end of the video.

Mary Pallant Endorsed by PDA of Santa Monica for the 24th Congressional District Seat

Here is Mary Pallant’s responses to their candidate questionnaire:

House of Representatives, CD 24 California; election year 2008

Previous Political offices held or progressive credentials/experience:

-Elected delegate 41st AD 2005-07 and 2007-09
Chair 41st AD Democratic Alliance
Lead Organizer for PDA VC
Trustee for the Community Foundation of Oak Park
Chair, Ventura County Commission for Women
Host and Organizer for the Ventura County Speaker Series

What is your mission and why are you running for office?
Specify how your support the mission of PDSMM (Our mission is to support progressive democratic values, policies and policy makers who will work to support peace and justice at home and abroad and promote diversity and equity for all.)

-The impetus for change we saw in 2006 is much stronger now and the citizens of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties have an opportunity to make history and change the direction
of the community and the country. Unseating Gallegly may be a daunting task, but I cannot sit idly by and I gladly accept the challenge to fight for my community and our
Country! To remain silent is to condone the acts of Bush and Elton. I believe we must all stand up for what is right so that we can say, without hesitancy, we did our part.
And, I am proud to be a progressive liberal who is not an apologist for my values, beliefs and principles. When democrats run as progressives, democrats win. It is our values that are fundamentally American, Democratic values. To have the support and endorsement of PDSMM will reflect that when we stand together, we stand together stronger.

Tell us your position and efforts to date on the following issues:

1. End the US military occupation and privatization of Iraq?
My top priority is to end the occupation and to never support the unilateral invasion of a sovereign country that did not invade or attack us. I have attended or organized several anti-war rallies, out of Iraq rallies, and stop the funding rallies. I have been outspoken in the community against the invasion from the inception. I will join the out of Iraq Caucus once elected as they are taking a more demanding approach to the war than the other representatives.

2. Support global peaceful conflict resolution. Oppose all wars?
I am in full support of a Department of Peace. We have to have a paradigm shift away from war profiteering to Peace and away from the Military Industrial Complex and toward a Peace Industrial Complex. Peace can be profitable as well. I support diplomacy, dialogue and engagement. If we ever have to go to war, it will be as a last resort and only against a nation who attacked us, not against sovereign nations, not unilaterally, not without the full consent of Congress and the UN.

3. Create a universal, single-payer health care system that provides medical Insurance for every US resident. Do you support SB840?
I was one of the first to send a letter to Sheila Kuehl’s office in support of SB 840. Also, my second pillar for my campaign is to have Universal Single Payer Health Care for every man, woman and child. Health care should be a right, not a privilege. We have the money to fund it; we just have to make the decision to do it. And, with a stronger majority of Democrats we have a stronger chance of passing universal coverage.

4. Work to ensure abortions are legal and safe and rare. Protect every person’s right to make decisions without interference from the state?
My position has always been that the government has no right to tell you whether our not you can reproduce. I am in full support of Roe vs. Wade and the right to privacy. I am also against passing any legislation that limits these rights or requires teens to gain parental permission.

5. Support media reform that ensures a diversity of viewpoints and calls for the Reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine?
The Media, our 4th Estate, has been just as responsible for the dismantling of our democracy over the past several years as this administration. They have not done their job media was to inform, educate the populace, and give us the facts. They were to question and add balance to all issues. It is imperative to a democracy to have an informed citizenry and hence I am in favor of media reform, restoring regulation and a return of the Fairness Doctrine.

6. Protect every American’s right to vote through passage of the Voter Rights Act of 2005, The Holt Bill and other legislation consistent with this goal?
I am in favor of Election Protection, a verified paper trail. Everyone, across the US, should vote via paper ballot with guidelines sanctioned throughout all states
and counties. And, then, hand-count our votes and ballots with civil servants, not computer software.

7. Support Clean Money public financing of elections and Instant run-off voting?
I worked tirelessly in support of Prop 89, the California Clean money proposition. I am in full support of all campaigns, state, federal and local being financed with
public funds. I also support instant run-off voting as a measure that would have avoided the fiasco we saw in 2000 and would save money as it would reduce the necessity of
special, additional elections.

8. Preserve Social Security?
Social Security is a safety net to keep our elderly out of poverty, to provide disability benefits and living benefits to children. We should never tamper with this program. Al Gore was absolutely right in his notion of treating it as a lock box. I am in favor of lifting the cap to ensure funding beyond 2040. I would never support any legislation to privatize or partially privatize.

9. Support public education that closes the achievement gap, promotes critical and affords students opportunities for ongoing civic and community engagement?
I am an advocate of public education. Education is the foundation of a strong and thriving democracy and imperative to keeping our democracy strong and thriving.
I would not support vouchers or mass funding of charter schools. I support midnighting NCLB as it is leaving too many children behind.

10. Protect our environment through legislation, education and the development of renewable resources?
The debate is over on global warming. We must join with the Apollo Alliance, create green collar jobs, reduce and cap co2’s. We must also engage China and India as well or our efforts will not matter. I am a member of the Sierra Club and the Environmental Caucus in the CDP as I believe education about these issues to be imperative to reversing our polluting trends and I believe we must all become
stewards of the Earth.

11. Support Fair Trade and other labor initiatives that protect workers’ rights and Guarantee workers a living wage?
I support the right to organize and the Freedom of Association. When we have a say in our society, and a say in the work force, this strengthens our democracy, is
good for American and is good for the middle class. I am in favor of ending our current trade agreements, NAFTA, CAFTA, WTO, as these are neither fair nor free and I will fight to return jobs to the US. I also resolve to support new job
industries, such as green collar jobs, and will always vote in favor of livable wages.

12. What is your position on the Death Penalty?
I oppose the Death Penalty. It has never been a deterrent to crime. I am in support of life in prison. And, I do not support the privatization of our prison system. They need to all be managed by the state and not for profit.

This blog fully supports Mary Pallant’s candidacy for the 24th Congressional District. We have been under the thumb of Elton Gallegly for too many years at our own expense. It is truly time for a new direction. Mary has the experience and the ability to beat Gallegly. With Democrat voter registration up in the 24th district, this could be our year to retire Gallegly. He has already shown he wants to retire, lets grant his wish this year. Go Mary!

Ron Paul Wins to Keep His Seat in Congress

Paul, the Texas congressman who distinguished himself as the only Republican presidential candidate opposing the Iraq war, gained a devoted following, harnessing the power of the Internet to raise more cash than more mainstream rivals.

Paul as an anti-war, libertarian – Republican had to turn his campaigning locally to defend his seat in Congress most recently.


Paul, who ran for the White House as a libertarian in 1988 but gained more of a following this year as a Republican, did not suspend his presidential campaign, but was forced to scale back his national operation to focus on the race for his Congressional seat in Texas.

“I do think the presidential race has exposed some of his values and principles that are not in line with his district, and that exposure has done him harm at home,” Republican primary challenger Chris Peden said of Paul.

But then there must have been some folks that strongly agreed with him, as he won his primary.

read more | digg story

Congress Speaks Out About Protect America Act

Congress is stalled over the Protect American Act and Constitutional rights.  Bush is threating we are not protected unless a bill granting telecom immunity is passed.  Is Bush trying to scare folks into giving away more of their privacy?  Many members of Congress think so.  In the Washington Post, Rockefeller, Conyers, Leahy, and Reyes speak out about what is happening:

Nothing is more important to the American people than our safety and our freedom. As the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, we have an enormous responsibility to protect both.

Unfortunately, instead of working with Congress to achieve the best policies to keep our country safe, once again President Bush has resorted to scare tactics and political games.

In November, the House passed legislation to give U.S. intelligence agencies strong tools to intercept terrorist communications that transit the United States, while ensuring that Americans’ private communications are not swept up by the government in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Almost two weeks ago, the Senate passed similar legislation. The Senate bill also contains a provision to grant retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies that assisted the executive branch in conducting surveillance programs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

While the four of us may have our differences on what language a final bill should contain, we agree on several points.

First, our country did not “go dark” on Feb. 16 when the Protect America Act (PAA) expired. Despite President Bush’s overheated rhetoric on this issue, the government’s orders under that act will last until at least August. These orders could cover every known terrorist group and foreign target. No surveillance stopped. If a new member of a known group, a new phone number or a new e-mail address is identified, U.S. intelligence can add it to the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately.

As Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein acknowledged while speaking to reporters on Feb. 14, “the directives are in force for a year, and with the expiration of the PAA, the directives that are in force remain in force until the end of that year. . . . [W]e’ll be able to continue doing surveillance based on those directives.”

If President Bush truly believed that the expiration of the Protect America Act caused a danger, he would not have refused our offer of an extension.

In the remote possibility that a terrorist organization that we have never previously identified emerges, the National Security Agency could use existing authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to track its communications. Since Congress passed FISA in 1978, the court governing the law’s use has approved nearly 23,000 warrant applications and rejected only five. In an emergency, the NSA or FBI can begin surveillance immediately and a FISA court order does not have to be obtained for three days.

When U.S. agencies provided critical intelligence to our German allies to disrupt a terrorist plot last summer, we relied on FISA authorities.

Those who say that FISA is outdated do not appreciate the strength of this powerful tool.

So what’s behind the president’s “sky is falling” rhetoric?  more

Cynthia McKinney Speaking in San Francisco Speaking Out Against Nancy Pelosi

Dennis Kucinich Under Fire

Posted on Truthdig 

Cleveland, Ohio, a city which represents all of the challenges and potential of the American economy, is rightfully the focal point of the Ohio Democratic presidential primary on March 4. The candidate who can deliver an economic platform with solid programmatic initiatives for jobs, health care, education and retirement security can win the state and be on the path to the nomination. Of course, I am no longer a candidate for president. When I was continually locked out of presidential debates, it became apparent that there was no chance. At the same time, labor in Cleveland asked me to come back and defend the 10th District congressional seat.

The FEC [Federal Election Commission] reports released last week show that in the Democratic primary, I am currently being outspent by a margin of 5-1.

Corporate Cleveland has organized its considerable resources behind a candidate who has had a three-week television campaign of a “Swift-boat”-type distortion of my record. I have always felt that the seat never belonged to me, but belongs to working men and women and their families, who are entitled to representation in the Congress, especially given the corporate domination of both political parties.

It is particularly ironic to see the same Cleveland corporate development interests at work trying to take a congressional seat for their own profit, when 30 years ago they used their power to send the city of Cleveland into default over $15 million and then used the default to defeat my reelection bid as mayor! This $15-million default is now dwarfed by the handouts given to each of the same interests by the current city government. Back to the future!

What happens in Cleveland is, of course, relevant to the entire nation. Somewhere, somehow people have to win a victory over corporate control and corporate greed. Cleveland is a great place to begin. And this election is a perfect time to start.

For more information about Kucinich’s campaign, go to