Friday, December 28, 2007

Impeach Cheney now

Impeach Cheney now

The allegations that he abused power are credible.

(from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler (D., Fla.), Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.)

are members of the Judiciary Committee

Last month, the House of Representatives voted to send a resolution of impeachment of Vice President Cheney to the Judiciary Committee. As members of the House Judiciary Committee, we strongly believe these important hearings should begin.

The issues at hand are too serious to ignore, including credible allegations of abuse of power that, if proven, may well constitute high crimes and misdemeanors under the Constitution. The allegations against Cheney relate to his deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war, the revelation of the identity of a covert agent for political retaliation, and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens.

follow any Wexler links...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Re: FW: Billion Here, Billion There

you can read this on-line at

it was the late, great, illinois senator, Everett DIrksen, who said that first in the present context:

   "A Billion here, a billion there,
    and pretty soon, you are talking _real_ money"

The amazing thing was he said that in the late 50s, and it's still true today.  The only problem is, that now, as your example shows, we speak not in units of billions, but Tens, and Hundreds.   

I taught algebra (and geometry) for two years.  the thing that concerned me the most, is the sort of lesson your example shows.    many of us can (barely) remember a billion seconds ago, so, extending that to minutes, hours and days is an instructive way to make the point that a Billion is a _huge_ number.   

In my lower wall street class room, i occasionally get to point out:  if you could fill this room up (you could, barely) with a million dollars, you couldn't fit a billion dollars in this whole building ( it would take 3 forty
story buildings like it),  and it would probably take all the financial district, and lower manhattan.  below canal street, just to  hold a  Trillion.  but, who's counting.

in the forwarded story. the assumption is that the money (however much) would be  evenly distributed.   No, too much of the money is going to rebuild casinos, and manufacturers of flimsy mobile homes.    The new gov. of Louisiana, who ran on a "clean up the state" slate, once elected has backed down on his pledge to not meddle with the legislature's committee chair positions -- considered a major source of the patronage outflow in that state.    

That's "Hope" down there, with her neck in the noose.
On Dec 12, 2007 6:24 PM, Al Telford < > wrote:

> The next time you hear a politician use the
> word "billion" in a casual manner, think about
> whether you want the "politicians" spending
> YOUR tax money.
> A billion is a difficult number to comprehend,
> but one advertising agency did a good job of
> putting that figure into some perspective in
> one of its releases.
> A. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
> B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
> C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were
>     living in the Stone Age.
> D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on
> two feet.
> E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and
>    20 minutes, at the rate our government is
> spending it.
> While this thought is still fresh in our brain,
> let's take a look at New
> Orleans It's amazing what you can learn with some
> simple division . .
> Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu (D), is presently
> asking the Congress
> for $250 BILLION to rebuild New Orleans.
> Interesting number, what does
> it mean?
> A. Well, if you are one of 484,674 residents of
>      New Orleans (every man, woman, child), you
>     each get $516,528.
> B. Or, if you have one of the 188,251 homes in
>       New Orleans , your home gets $1,329,787.
> C. Or, if you are a family of four, your family
>     gets $2,066,012.
> Washington, D.C .. HELLO!!! ... Are all your
> calculators broken??

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program?

Keith Olbermann, last thursday night: 12/06, opined on the "what did you know, and when did you know it", addressed to Mr Bush about the NIE report that Iran has not pursued nuclear weapons since 2003.    See this report from Olbermann.

I take a different view, challenging the way the intelligence is delivered (as well as the messenger), but importantly, an overlooked aspect on how we are supposed to consume this information.  

Consider this:  we are tantalized by the prospect that "they could resume the weapons program at any time".   Certainly true.  Why no one has thought to ask, "yes, and if so, when would we know it?"   There are only two conclusions to draw from this reasoning:   first, it conceivably would take us another 4 years to  find out the program has been turn on  OR that we might find out about it the day after tomorrow, but we don't need to tell you.     In the first case, we are led to believe the intelligence community is really sluggish in developing a picture, in the latter we must assume the pressure to report is squelched by political consideration.   My personal belief is both have been the pattern of the Iraq years, and now, as Olbernan suggests, we need new enemies.   He carefully analyzes Bush's pronouncements on Iran over the last year, and points out a detectable shift between August 6 and August 9, when he believes a Mike McConnell briefing actually set him straight.   Olbermann, with this evidence, as he sees it, clearly believes Bush has been lying on this one, at least since that time, and used the intervening four months to shift the tone of the story so we might not notice, and could claim, "I was only briefed last week", claim which Olbermann smells a just enough truth.

The NewsDarkTime has for two years believed Bush (and Cheney) were well over the impeachment line;   those who cite congress' low approval rating don't explore the dissatisfaction:  the 77% who are dissatisfied with congress don't necessarily approve of the administration, Probably fully half that number support impeachment, but can't muster the clout with congress.  So we're simply added to the dissatisfied.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Re: Gun Vote

   congrats on being a veteran!  be proud of your service.  no one can take it from you, and it sounds like you're justly willing to let it inform the rest of your life.   since you're still asking questions you haven't adopted the all-too-frequent fault of the ex-military:  my country right or wrong -- i don't question it.  

    you question causes me to really consider what i'd like to see.   i used to belong to the "Brady Campaign", and have to agree in principal with them, that there is no good purpose for the pistol in the hands of a civilian.   but they want to ban them, and i'd rather leave the question to interpretation of the 2nd  amendment:   we have to regulate, not abolish firearms.  what i was getting at with the last letter was i'm more concerned with respect for the several bill of rights, as a group, than with any one in particular.   for example, the first and fourth amendments are under greater assault than the second.    1=freedom of speech, now that we've called campaign contributions as speech, this tends to allow corporate money to dominate the dialog.  4=unlawful search and seizure, the administration's lockup of so-called "enemy combatants" without due process threatens free people everywhere.
   but what about the 2nd amendment.  i've already claimed that the rights are individual rights.  some of my fellow liberals would claim the 2nd is only a "collective" right.   unfortunately, the law in the country is only contested, even all the way to the supreme court, as individual cases.   then, depending on how the justices write their opinion, other, lower courts are either directly instructed, or often are able to interpret how widely any decision applies to them.  for example 1954's "Brown vs Board of Education" struck down the 1896 "Plessy vs Ferguson", which said  education could be separate and equal.  According to Plessy, it was possible to get an equal education in separate facilities.  Brown V Board said there was no evidence that in practice, separate was ever equal.  So, while Brown involved a Topeka KS school, and one other,  there was little doubt from the ruling it was universal.   

  i believe the court has taken on cases this term which will test the 2nd amendment, and possibly the notion that it's an individual vs collective right, but i'm not really sure of the issues.   the nagging feeling i have though is that this is an "advocacy case", where there is no actual grievance, but a perceived one.  e.g.  a state may want to "regulate" the access of individuals to say, AK 47s, so they require people to be members of a gun club, secure those weapons, even though they belong to individuals, who are ultimately responsible, but they must accept the
club security.  one can imagine someone can claim damage, but the guy in nebraska who's estranged son "stole" his weapon, and took it to the mall and killed 8 people might have used the help of the locked up gun in the club to secure it's proper use.  

  so, what would i consider effective regulation.   consider the needs of the public, to remain safe in their person: they should be able to go to the mall, and expect to be able to go home without being shot at, wounded, or killed.  also, consider the need of sportsmen (and women) to exercise their interest in firearms.   let me confess, that as high school students, my brother and i took the MN firearms safety course, using a 22 rifle my dad had, and used it enough to qualify.  i never felt the need to pick up a firearm since.   but i don't want to impose my lack of interest on those who do.   so, what to do.    well, those of us who are interested, but otherwise un-informed can see various categories of gun: pistols, rifles, shotguns, military, heavy artillery, ...   going up the scale, various degrees of automatic; manual, semi-, fully-.   there are various calibers, loads, historic, etc...    someone, the Atty General, the ATF,  the FBI, ... will identify the useful categories of firearms, of which there might be a few hundred types.   every personal weapon will need to belong to one of these categories.  no-one (incl the feds) needs to know the identities of all the weapons of every such category.   but some of those categories will be the ones which create more harm to the population at large then other categories, and most of the various categories will be otherwise harmless.  if i had to guess, but i could be wrong, the harmful categories might include 9 mms and certainly the AK-47.  22 rifles, probably not, but the list of dangerous categories would be data driven:  e.g. "these 6 categories of weapon were responsible for 80% of civilian fatalities in the last 3 years",for example.   the federal govt would provide a national registry, federally _funded_, administered by the states and registered gun dealers ( e.g. my NJ driver's license permits me to drive in MN,e.g., since my Toyota dealer "handles all the paperwork" for my new car).  this registry would require periodic renewal for all the firearms in the few designated categories.    this could be handled in bulk, at no inconvenience to the individual through clubs, dealers, ...   so why do this at all?  

  so many of the weapons used in crimes, holdups, .. not to mention fatal shootings are found to be "stolen".  as it stands, there is little incentive to report stolen weapons.   so here's what would happen:   if your weapon is in the few categories requiring registry, you'd better report it stolen.  Why?   if it's found to have committed a capitol crime, the registered owner of the identified weapon (thru ballistics)  is the prime suspect.    my model for this is the all-too-typical shooting of a police officer, Joyce Carnegie, in Orange NJ, in April 1999:
as we later came to know the shooter had stolen the gun from his cousin in GA, and the gun had legally been bought in VA.   it had been stolen more than 6 months and less than a year before it was used in a holdup, which was interrupted by Officer Carnegie.   were the real owner required to show proof of the safe custody of the gun, it's theft would have been quickly traced to the cousin, who the owner suspected, but had no incentive to pursue, since he had other similar guns, and the cousin had left town some time before.   the point is the owner had no incentive to act responsibly and report this dangerous weapon being at large.

  an equally sad side-effect of this case was the death (i forget if it was suicide) of an un-involved suspect, arrested because he looked like the real suspect.   the gun was eventually identified by ballistics, but had it been on the "stolen" list, it's identity would have been immediately known and the wrong guy might only have been held overnight rather than nearly a week.   the multiple tragedies in this all-too frequent type of event would have been avoided, many observed at the time, would have been avoided with the simplest registry system.  

   as a self-critique, you may have noticed my too cavalier claim that there would be only a few categories to register.   a natural fear from the gun-owning crowd is the government couldn't resist calling all firearms as "dangerous".   i'd restrict the list, by law, to the identifiable smaller list of categories in the following way:  in any population, as you've probably observed, there's what's called the 80-20 law.   an example is the familiar "20 % of the people have 80% of the money, and 80% of the people only have 20 % of the money".   actually, since the regan ascendancy, barely interrupted by the clinton years, it's now more like 90 - 10!   so, in the case of firearms,
by statute, i'd restrict it to the 5% of the categories of weapons which are responsible for 95% of the deaths, or whatever the number is, but the categories would be severely restricted by law, provided the law was supported by those who i call "responsible" gun owners and dealers.   some of my liberal friends might want the 100-100 case, but, i would observe, if you don't aim for perfection, and are willing to "tolerate" a low level of gun violence,  you will gradually see the "dangerous" categories change, and the total fatalities greatly reduce, to where the visible sources of gun death wouldn't be from these "random" sources. i.e. the problem will have long moved to where the responsible gun owners somehow don't feel they are the threatened ones.

 thanks for the opportunity to think about this.

 i've posted this and other comments on my weblog:

 please share this with site with your friends.

 thank you.

On Dec 6, 2007 2:20 AM, Lilith Eventide Nightshade <> wrote:
Mr. Mc Gowan,
I have been fascinated by your discourse. Please tell
me about your interpretation of responsible
I am a veteran. I understand and appreciate the rights
and priveledges accrued to gun ownership.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Anna Ayres

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Gun Vote

my favorite part of the 2nd amendment is the "well-regulated militia" part.

the implication being, even if it's an _individual_ right, as all the rights
must be, is that it requires regulation.   today we witnessed an otherwise
law-abiding citizen in omaha take out 8 of his fellow americans (and
wounding a handful of others) before taking his own life, need i point
out, with a legally acquired gun (or could i be wrong here).

if you want to preserve the individual right, as i do,  you will work _much_
harder than you have been willing to respect the "well-regulated part".

it should be up to gun advocates to advocate responsible regulation,
because coming from others, it would be irresponsible regulation.   today's
tragedy is blood on the hands of those who would have _NO_ regulation.

thus, _my_ poll would be:

    [ ] no regulation
    [ ] responsible regulation
    [ ] irresponsible regulation

-=-.. Marty McGowan

p.s. those of you who'd like to hear what i think is responsible regulation,
 please write, and i'll post a response to those who inquire.

On Dec 5, 2007 7:46 PM, Al Telford <> wrote:

From: "Bob Mills" <>
To: <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>
Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2007 17:33:03 -0600
Subject: Gun Vote

First - vote on this one.    
Second - launch it to all the pro-gun folks and have THEM vote
 To vote in the USA Today poll, click on the link below.
 Does the Second Amendment give individuals the right to bear arms?
Vote here:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Date: Dec 3, 2007 8:43 PM

what amazes me is why you'd oppose hillary who's no more likely to advocate a repeal of "2a",
much less make it happen than bush was likely to introduce a repeal of roe v wade, much less
see it happen!?

i suspect most poeple's revulsion of the clintons, not to mention the kennedys is that it's
tough to support people who's view of government is more noble than we'd like.

just a guess.

on keeping your guns:  now that your car(s) are registered, aren't you worried someone's
coming to confiscate them?  or is it the fact you've got a gun on the rack your insurance?

if you're still open for suggestions, here's some more practical issues: 
  trim the federal deficit (= bush's idiot war) so we can afford:
      + education,
      + jobs programs, training,
      + healthcare,
      + infrastructure: bridges!, levees,
      + housing !!!
      + other useful things for people like real crime fighting, ...

pardon me, i'm wound up:  Kerry got laughed off the stage for suggesting bush's war
would cost 200 - 300 billion.  when Cheney and Rumsfeld (snivling liars that they are)
promised it would be less than 50 B, by which time the oil would be paying for it.  my
only complaint with Kerry is he was an order of magnitude too timid.  today, the most
conservative,  thats CONSERVATIVE, estimates are TWO TRILLION (if not THREE).

if people stopped to think what the war is costing them, it would have ended before it
started:  kerry's price-tag was $1000 for everyone in your family.   bush has mortgaged
you to the tune of $10,000 a head, for which your grandchildren will be paying: Merry

there's no point in vilifying hillary over, say bush, unless you value your ego more
than you value your wallet or your family.  but, hey, as we liberals say: i could be wrong.


 -=-.. Marty McGowan

On Dec 3, 2007 7:42 PM, Eileen Burgess <> wrote:
I'm unaware of who this is from.  However, thanks for giving me the opportunity to vent also,
Thank you,

Who supports Hillary?

you can tell lilith i've only sent money to the edwards campaign.  
  others on my "inside" list are: richardson, kucinich,  & maybe dodd.

nothin' better than a big change, emphasis _big_. 

two of my constant opinions:
   "i've never met a republican who _needed_ my vote"  -- which doesn't mean
         i haven't voted for a republican, and ...
   "never has an increase in public cynicism failed to benefit the republican"

the practical example of the last one, and i hate to admit that i agree with
  ronald regan, but he "predicted": "the government's the problem, not
  the solution".   how did he know george w bush would ever be president?!

On Dec 4, 2007 8:09 PM, Al Telford <> wrote:
mickey.  one of my girl friends, lilith925 ,was very glad i hooked her up with your e mail .  she thinks your the most intelegent person that she has meet on the internet.  she also is a  hilery fan. im not i favor of her as you have probley guessed already.  i dont know who is worth voting for yet.  all i know is that we need a big change in this country.  al


Date: Dec 4, 2007 6:57 PM
To: Al Telford <>

i couldn't agree with you more.  as you  may have noted, she's no higher than
4th or 5th on my list.     hillary has more 'balls' than many republicans.

what i'd like to know is how is anyone who voted for bush is in a position
to identify who's smart or not.   your last statement is all the truth we
need.  i assume that calling it a "no win situation", you knew, well in
advance of our Selected Acting President ( e.g. SAP for short), that
it wasn't "Mission Accomplished", but Hell on Earth.  

As to Hillary, there are any number of issues on which I agree with her,
but, to me, she is "Cheney light", -- just like Cheney, she is way to coy
with her answers, more like an evasion.   take for example her recent
vote (to support this failed administration) that Iran is a current nuclear
threat.   you should like her more than I do.

to be real for a moment, consider that the republicans have shown
they are incapable of selecting a presidential candidate.   i have a
friend from the last decade who blindly insists bush will go down as
one of the greatest.   i don't write to him any more as i consider him
blind to observable data.   so, you will have to get used to it; the
next president will be the Democratic nominee.  i didn't vote for
Bill twice, and i consider anyone who voted for bush twice in need
of redemption.   i may be lucky enough to _never_ have to vote
for hillary, but, at the risk of getting you started, there is no
republican candidate worth listening to anymore.

 consider mccain.  had he been president, we would likely NOT
have had to deal with iraq.   now he supports an indefinite extension
of the troops.   not unlike nixon, who was elected because of
dissatisfaction with LBJs handling of vietnam, who really prolonged
and deepend that conflict.  there is no other republican who has
_any_ credibility, huckabee and paul included.    there are plenty
of good republicans out there, all of whom are too smart to get
in the meat-grinder bush has made of presidential politics:   colin
powell would have made a much better president than bush, but
i'll bet you didn't hear how b-c made him the lap-dog who would
do their bidding:  they locked the doors of the cabinet meeting
when they told all the others to be there ten minutes early or
get locked out.  

and on to rudy g:   as he was leaving the mayors office and
facing an opportunistic mike bloomberg take over, he was heard
to say  "there have to be 50 people here who can do the job better
than I".  i agree completely, and it's still true.   where i disagree,
why aren't those people running?

as a liberal, i say, rhetorically, "i could be wrong".  implicit in
that statement is the challenge: "until you show me some
evidence".   i'm not cowed by your suggestion my "support"
for hillary is evidence of ignorence.  take your pick: show me
why, or take the easy alternative:  show me why support for
bush isn't!

-=-.. Marty

On Dec 3, 2007 9:44 PM, Al Telford <> wrote:
mickey,when we were in school i thought you were suposed to be smart.  if you are for hillery, your not as smart as i thought you were.  we dont need a woman leader in this country, at least not her.  what we need is a pres. with a pr. of balls and not an oil man.  irac is just another viet nam.  a no win sit. .