Thursday, May 31, 2007

The periodic table of criminal elements

Courtesy of And the horse you rode in on...

Here's a cheat sheet with names, just in case.

Helpful hint: Click on the image and you'll see a copy that you can actually read.

Are there really still people who don't believe it's about the oil?

A couple things....

First off, did you know there's something where Iraqis on all sides of the conflict are in agreement? They are united in their opposition to the US imposed "benchmark" regarding the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Law. Maybe we could just allow the Iraqis to use their democratic process to decide for themselves how their natural resources should be managed? It's just a thought.

All you hear in the MSM is that it's about revenue sharing between the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. They conveniently leave out how much we're expecting them to "share" with the oil companies. In the current agreement, international oil companies get access to 81% of the oil deposits right off the bat, and double the standard share of profits after completion of the infrastructure development. They get 2/3 of the profits while they're developing infrastructure. Assume that'll take a while. You can also assume they'll need the military there to protect them for a very long time.

I may have mentioned this before, but in case you missed it, it's about the oil.

Secondly, will someone please tell the occupant of the White House that Korea is not a model to emulate in Iraq or anywhere else. Fifty years after the Korean War and we still have nearly 30,000 troops there. That's success? No wonder he can't define what success in Iraq looks like. He doesn't want to say that outloud. He'd lose a couple more of his 27 25-percenters.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ohpleasedeargod, let's not talk about sex.

In this week's San Diego news, did you see the story about the high school students in our oh so enlightened Grossmont High School District?

Three students did a semester project on the ineffectiveness of abstinence only sex education in controlling sexually transmitted diseases, and their teachers said they would give them an A to STOP working on their project.

The Vice Principal said, "we want to keep Valhalla's name out of the headlines, especially if it has to do with teen sexuality". That didn't work out so well, did it?

This in the same school district where 33 years ago I watched my high school health teacher put a condom on a banana. My my how times have changed.

I don't know about you, I've about had it with all the pseudo pearl clutching sexual hypocrisy and willful ignorance.

John Edwards speaks to California...

by way of Courage Campaign's ATM Watch.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

The end of the Williamson Act?

Found by way of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, is this SF Chron opinion regarding the Williamson Act.

In the May revise of the budget, the Governator has eliminated funding for the Williamson Act which provides compensation to local government for reducing property taxes on land designated for agriculture. Parcels under Williamson Act contracts are restricted from commerical development other than agriculture. The law has been in effect since 1965 and is intended to preserve agricultural land and prevent sprawl.

From the State of CA website:
The California Land Conservation Act of 1965--commonly referred to as the Williamson Act--enables local governments to enter into contracts with private landowners for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use. In return, landowners receive property tax assessments which are much lower than normal because they are based upon farming and open space uses as opposed to full market value. Local governments receive an annual subvention of forgone property tax revenues from the state via the Open Space Subvention Act of 1971.

Since local budgets are in such dire straits, it seems assured that the state's slack won't be picked up by county authorities, and the Williamson Act would go the way of the dodo.

I dunno...I'm no expert on zoning or agricultural land (or anything else for that matter), but it seems like a bad idea to me. I imagine developers are thrilled with it though.

It looks the governator can raise taxes afterall ... he just has to use the backdoor to do it.

edit- I did a little searching to see what kind of money we're talking about, and found this article at the Napa Valley Register.
According to the state department of finance, Napa County receives about $79,000 in subvention funds, far less than the county with the biggest benefit, Tulare County, which receives $3.5 million. The county in the state least affected is San Diego, which receives $8,600 in Williamson Act funds.


Who says young people don't care about politics?

I hear people say that sometimes, but you'd never know it by the reception Andrew Card got from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst when the administration tried to give him an honorary degree at the commencement ceremony for grad students.

Video by the Traprock Peace Center.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Covert Canyon in the news....

The County of San Diego issued an order Thursday stopping activity at the Covert Canyon Training Center in Alpine.

Covert Canyon has been wrongly tied to Blackwater's plans...according to owner Marc Halcon.

“It's a well-orchestrated effort to divert attention from the Blackwater-Potrero issue,” Halcon said.

So on Thursday's news they were his "friends" and by Saturday they're using him to divert attention from their own plans? Okey-dokey.

Maybe it's just because Blackwater brought attention to the whole idea of where these types of training facilities are located and what they're doing, and his business falls into that category so people who are curious or concerned about the issue have stumbled across his website.

Could be, ya know. Not everything is a conspiracy.

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Now what?

I'm one of those people who has a foot in each camp. Idealistic/Pragmatic. Two great tastes in one.

I was opposed to the military action taken in Iraq from day one, and I do whatever little bit I can do to end it. I completely support and expect bold action by Democrats to turn this war around, and so I was angry and disappointed about this week's vote on the continuing occupation of Iraq.

That said, I do know they didn't have the votes to override Bush and the Republican side of the aisle, which still stands in a nice straight line behind the administration and the Republican party. I don't blame these Dems for that. They need a larger majority, but David Corn is right in that instead of being straightforward, the Dems contorted themselves into a no win situation, and made themselves look weak in the process.

The good side of this push by the Democrats is that at least they're pushing. Maybe not hard enough (and I'm still really disappointed in Susan Davis for voting NO instead of helping to present a completely appropriate and unified front), but it's a vast improvement over anything they've done in recent years. They need to continue to make the comfortable, very very uncomfortable.

So, now what?

I don't know that there is a viable short term answer to the intractable stubbornness of the administration. It seems to me that to end the mess in Iraq we need a larger majority of anti-war legislators, a Democratic president and ceaseless prodding by the grassroots/netroots. Unfortunately, acknowledging the need for more Democratic legislators and a Dem president means acknowledging that we've got little hope for anything other than the status quo for at least two more years. I don't like that one bit.

I suppose we just keep doing what we're doing for the moment. Work to get more progressive candidates in office, urge the current legislators to stiffen up their spines, keep up the pressure from the grassroots/netroots, and keep pointing out the criminal stupidity of the current policies. It's got us this far.

btw, A little bit of media reform wouldn't hurt either.

That's not to mention some grand scale changes in foreign policy, but sadly it seems that may be a longer term goal, and I don't know how many of the current crop of politicians in either camp are really up to that challenge.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I knit, therefore I am

Just to prove that I'm a well rounded individual (shut up, you) here's what I've been doing on my bus ride to and from work. I knitted it on the bus, felted it at home in the washer (sorry about the drain, babe), and tada! I have a new purse.


I know I've mentioned this before....

but I'm going to mention it again since the date is fast approaching.

Monday, May 28, is Memorial Day, and the San Diego Veterans for Peace will be setting up the Arlington West memorial in the sand near the Oceanside Pier.

Or you can give John Edward's Support the Troops, End the War website a look for a little inspiration about how you might spend this coming Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Covert Canyon isn't so covert anymore

News 8, the CBS affiliate in San Diego, ran a story today on another, lesser known military training facility. This time in the community of Alpine. I couldn't find a text version of the story, and I can't embed their video, but if you go to their website, and scroll through the videos to the one that reads, "News 8 Exclusive: Secret "Covert Canyon" Training Camp Operating in Alpine.

What's particularly interesting in this story is that the county didn't even know it existed. When the reporter talked to the Dept of Land Use and Planning, they were pretty surprised to know there's a shooting range and an airstrip out there!

I think the response by the neighbors is particularly telling. It's noisy. It's inappropriate land use. And as they said, they're Vietnam Veterans and sure never asked for this to be a part of their retirement.

Does anyone else think it's kind of weird that the owner bragged to a reporter with a camera about how secret his facility is?

Not anymore it's not.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More video from the San Diego Board of Supervisors

Here's additional video from the local Fox6 News on yesterday's San Diego Board of Supervisors meeting and the protest that followed. John Mattes also gives some additional details on what transpired in Cuyahoga County, Ohio elections in 2004.

Other coverage:

Protesters criticize county elections hirings North County Times

Protesters cry foul over election hires Union Tribune

Voting Groups Want Former Diebold Saleswoman Ousted from San Diego Elections Job Wired News

No confidence City Beat

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Is Ohio's gain San Diego's loss?

and is Michael Vu the right man for the job in San Diego?

Those are the questions citizens are asking, and now that's the question Fox6 News in San Diego is asking too.

Video link

Michael Vu was recently hired to be our Assistant Registrar of Voters right here in San Diego County. He's brought a fair bit of baggage with him. Vu was the Director of Elections in Cuyahoga County, Ohio until his recent resignation after public demands for his ouster, and a failed attempt by the election board to have him fired. Vu presided over the criminally mismanaged 2004 presidential election in Cuyahoga County, and two of his assistants have been sentenced to prison for their actions during that election. Vu stands by his his former employees, despite the fact that have been convicted of manipulating the audit process in order to avoid a recount.

The problems with elections in Cuyahoga County under Michael Vu were well documented by Robert F Kennedy Jr in his widely read article Was The 2004 Election Stolen?

The problem is compounded by the fact that the County of San Diego also saw fit to hire Deborah Seiler, former Diebold salesperson, to be San Diego's new Registrar of Voters. Ms Seiler has gone round and round through the revolving door between the public and private sector, and now she's come to work in a county where she was involved in selling us unreliable electronic voting equipment.

She's done that Solano County, CA.

As the Diebold sales rep, Seiler sold Solano County nearly 1,200 touch-screen machines that were not federally tested or state certified. When the state banned the machines because of Diebold's business practices, the county had to find a replacement for the machines and pay Diebold more than $400,000 to get out of its contract.

...and then Solano County hired her.

Sorry, I can't explain that one.

This morning San Diego citizens, and representatives from the election watch dog group Psephos, and election integrity organization Secure Accurate Elections (SAE) attended the County Board of Supervisors meeting and demanded answers about the the County's disregard for the integrity of our elections. According to Psephos co-founder Paul Lehto, the San Diego County BOS heard
...numerous public comments taking on the supervisors for approving secret vote counting, buying millions more in machines the day before this public comment, and being unresponsive to polls stating that over 80% of San Diegans want a transparent voting system. Some citizens were getting so upset two got ejected from the room, but each public comment in favor of democracy was greeted with enthusiastic applause...

After the meeting, there was a citizen rally and press conference held jointly by Psephos and SAE. Today’s show of citizen opposition in response to the repeated missteps of the Board of Supervisors was focused on three major issues and concerns.

1. Transparency. Both in vote counting and also now in how hiring decisions are made in light of the shocking decisions to hire Michael Vu and Deborah Seiler. (According to Ken Simpkins of Psephos, Chief Administrative Office Ekard defends these hires and says he is past the point of considering the “tired old arguments against electronic voting”.)
2. Accountability. Mr Simpkins asked each Board of Supervisors member if they think secret vote counting is compatible with democracy, and also wanted to know if any elected officials in San Diego are responsible for the integrity of it's elections.
3. Citizen Control Of Their Elections. Citizens are taking action to protect democracy, and to ensure that every vote is counted. Additionally Psephos and SAE are conducting a review of the County charter in response to citizen concerns
about the lack of accountability and improper delegation of power to county elections officials. Concerns include lack of response to citizen input, lack of visibility into hiring decision criteria and lack of timely access to elections information.

Citizens also criticized the county’s plan to purchase more electronic voting machines while while Debra Bowen is conducting a top to bottom review of election processes and procedures.

The county just keeps digging in their heels, and defending secret vote counting. The hiring of Seilers and Vu is further proof that San Diego County is dedicated to keeping it that way.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

The impossible will take a little while

I've heard a lot of lectures and been to a lot of book signings by progressive and/or political authors, but Chalmers Johnson wins the prize for the most depressing lecture of all time. It was his first presentation of his lecture "Evil Empire".

We're doomed.

That said, I must not believe that his warnings are the inevitable outcome, or I'd just curl up on the sofa in front of Wheel of Fortune and relax while I wait for our world to crumble. Honestly, if I'd just work on issues like getting sidewalks in town, I think that would be a little easier, emotionally speaking. It's tangible. It's concrete (pun intended). You can see progress. But nooooo...I have to care about issues of international importance. What's up with that?

It's often what I'm drawn to. I can't help it. The consequences of doing nothing are unacceptable. I often can't see if my activism has any effect, but I just have to trust that it does. I'll keep adding my little stones to the pile. Maybe if everyone did, someday there'd big a massive rock pile that couldn't be ignored. I look at it as an exercise in patience and delayed gratification, plus I couldn't look myself in the eye if I ignored what's happening in the world.

I sometimes think about what Molly Ivins said in her last column:

And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets ...

As the saying goes, the impossible will take a little while. I try to do my bit. Maybe not every day, but most days.

btw, You can see Chalmers Johnson on C-Span tomorrow night at 10:30 pm Pacific Time.

Let the carbfest continue!

Last night my son and husband went to the Lemon Grove Fire Station for their annual spaghetti dinner, and while they were there they picked up tickets to the Kiwanis pancake breakfast this morning. Then tonight we're going to a San Diego for Democracy house concert with Berkley Hart. We're having potluck there.


That said, I'm really looking forward to the concert. I've only seen Berkley Hart at last years Democracyfest and they played a short set. Tonight is their full concert.

Somewhere between the pancakes and the potluck I hope to get downtown to hear Chalmers Johnson speak.

and at some point in time I need to get to the lingere section at Mervyns (or somewhere) to buy appropriate foundation garments (remember that term, babyboomers?) to wear under my white top I have to wear to commencement tomorrow.

Good grief. I didn't plan this very well. I'd better get moving....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Upcoming San Diego events

Speaking of Al Gore...

On May 21 Gore is giving his Inconvenient Truth lecture at the RIMAC Arena at UCSD. The tickets were free and 4,000 were gobbled up in less than an hour. According to they mostly went to students that stood in line for a very long time.

Also speaking in San Diego this week is historian and author Chalmers Johnson. He'll be at the Central Library on Saturday May 19 at 2 pm. He'll be discussing his new book, Nemesis: The Last Sorrows of Empire. His talk is free at the San Diego Library at 820 E St in Downtown San Diego.

The San Diego Veterans For Peace will stage Arlington West on Memorial Day, May 28 2007, Oceanside, North of the Pier. More than 2400 crosses with flags and candles will be displayed. Arlington West is a memorial designed to honor our troops that have died in Iraq in a non-political setting. The memorial will be from noon to 8PM, lighting candles at dusk. During the memorial participants read the name, rank, service, age, and date of death of all 3400+ casualties. Visitors are welcome, and asked to participate.

And speaking of Memorial Day, John Edwards has launched his Support the Troops, End the War Campaign by asking his supporters to support the troops by acting to end the war this Memorial Day. The website gives suggestions, and a search function that lets you find events in your area. Looks like there are already a couple scheduled in the San Diego area. I know that one of the San Diego for Edwards One Corps groups is talking about doing something but they've not posted details yet though, so don't quote me on that.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Edwards in 08? Sold!

I'll tell you what. I'm sold on the John Edwards campaign. There was a conference call this evening addressed to grassroots supporters in California. I hadn't made up my mind on the candidates, but have been leaning towards Edwards, so when I got the call about the call, I said sign me up. I'm glad I took the time this evening to do that. I think he's my guy. I can support his position on Iraq. He's got the Vision Thing. He talks about poverty like no one has talked about poverty in a long damn time. His positions have some meat on them. They're not just sound bites. He's got policy to back up his ideas. They talk the talk about grassroots and netroots, and seem to have a great big clue on the importance of that. That's a good sign.

I like the Support the Troops End the War idea. Bush thinks he's the decider, AND the definer. It bugs the tar out of me that the far right has used "patriotism" as a battering ram agaisnt anyone that disagrees with them. They took patriotism, the flag AND the color red. That just ain't right.

I'm kinda partial to Edwards' One Corps too. In fact, this was my idea! Just in my own head, but I did think of it. Really.

One Corps is designed to encourange his supporters to provide service in their own communities. Not only a good idea but a smart campaign tool to get your supporters out and visible in the community.

I do agree with one thing in particular that was said on the call. Edwards can beat any of the Republican candidates that are lined up thus far. There's another big plus in my book.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

U.S. healthcare expensive, inefficient

In other news, water is wet, and the Pope is a Catholic.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Little bits of this and that

The Union Trib ran an article yesterday about the current state of the kurfluffle involving the Blackwater West development in Potrero, and the local planning group.

Recalls, and petitions and lawsuits, oh my.

The PPG is going to vote on the issue again on July 12. Not that there's much expectation that the results will be very different, but you just never know. Maybe some will have a change of heart and think about what the majority of the people who live in the area want in their community. Stranger things have happened.

I've nearly finished reading Blackwater, The Rise of the Worlds Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill.

I was reading the book on the bus a couple days ago, and the man sitting behind me said, "what are you reading?" I showed him the cover and he replied, "Wow. That's pretty heavy . . . are you married?" So, in addition to being an important and worthwhile read, it seems to have some other special power going for it too.

But anyway....It's extremely powerful, well written, and pretty damn distressing on so many levels. It's a must read book on all the reasons why we shouldn't be contracting out in Iraq on anything near the level we are, and why we don't want companies like Blackwater taking on traditional security, police and military functions.

Other bits of this and that:

Business relating to Blackwater at the Potrero Planning Group will not go into "executive session" as Chairman Gordon Hammers had threatened. He was advised by the County not to do that. Good decision.

PPG board member Mary Johnson wore her new Blackwater USA t shirt to the PPG meeting on Thursday evening. When questioned about the appropriateness she snapped, “What are you, the fashion police?”

La di dah...

and Happy Mother's Day.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

I (heart) my new tote bag

It comes in pink too. Perfect for Mother's Day, doncha think?

The annual San Diego peace and social justice work-a-thon

It's almost time for the annual Peace and Social Justice Work-a-thon at the Friends Center. You can either work, or you can pay me to work. It's the capitalist way, ya know?

The work-a-thon will be on Saturday June 30, 2007 at the site of the new Friends Center at 3850 Westgate Place
San Diego, CA 92105.

This is a super collaborative project. When completed it will support and house the Peace Resource Center, Church of the Brethren, San Diego Friends Meeting (Quakers) and the American Friends Service Committee. It's being contructed primarily with volunteer funds and volunteer labor. The other plus is that it's being built with the environment in mind. It will be the first straw bale constructed building in central San Diego, and includes solar power, a permaculture garden, and a system for recycling water. It's an environmentally sound, green building.

The work-a-thon will last from 9:00 to mid-afternoon. If you want to volunteer, you can work all or part of the time. No skills required! Sounds like a job made just for me. I have no skills.

There are two ways to help:

1. Volunteer for the day to help construct the new Friends Center. The work projects will focus on the inside walls, and outside on the landscaping.

2. Sponsor a volunteer worker (like me, for example). Your donation will also benefit two peace groups: the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities (Project YANO) and the Peace Resource Center of San Diego.

Here's the flyer and a signup/sponsor sheet....

Friday, May 11, 2007

An excellent summary of the contracting out hearing in DC

Check out this excellent post at Daily Kos on the "contracting out" hearing in the House yesterday. Todd at Courage Campaign does a great job of covering the tone, and the content of the hearing.

New charges filed against former top CIA official, contractor

New charges have been filed alleging that the CIA's former No. 3 official used his influence in that role to support a proposed $100 million government contract for his best friend, a defense contractor, in return for lavish vacations, private jet flights and a lucrative job offer.

The indictment, returned Thursday by a federal grand jury in San Diego, supersedes charges brought in February against career CIA man Kyle "Dusty" Foggo and Poway-based contractor Brent Wilkes. The charges grew from the bribery scandal that landed former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham in prison.

yum. . . . new charges.

San Diego has a new Registrar of Voters. Yikes.

She used to be a salesperson for Diebold, but now she's our Registrar.

Those of you who live in or near Solano County, might already know Deborah Seiler.

So...San Diego now has Deborah Seiler, a former Diebold salesperson, as Registrar of Voters, and Michael Vu of Cuyahoga County, Ohio as assistant Registrar.

We're so screwed.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The video Robert Greenwald was not allowed to show in Congress

When filmmaker Robert Greenwald was asked to testify before the Defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on outsourcing in Iraq, he prepared a four and a half minute video to show as part of his testimony. The clips were taken from his film Iraq for Sale.

The Republicans objected and he wasn't allowed to show it. Probably because the truth hurts.

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update on the contracting out hearing

Well well. That was informative. Now I know why the last congress was called the do-nothing congress....that is, if Mr Kingston of Georgia is any indication of their priorities. He didn't care one whit about the issues being discussed. He just wanted to cast aspirsions on Greenwald and Scahill, and question their motives. Never mind that the two of them know more about contracting out then Kingston and the whole lot of them rolled into one. He could have actually used the opportunity to learn something, but nevermind that when he can question how they're registered at voters, twist their words, and take shots at Hollywood. If I were a citizen of Georgia, I'd be completely embarrassed.

Basically he took up a good bit of the time yammering about nothing. I figure that must have been his goal, because I really hate to think he got where he is by being as stupid as he looked today. Personally, I chalk it up to sabatoge.

Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, on the other hand, is one smart cookie. She totally gets it. She asked the right questions, and seems very serious about getting answers. I was completely impressed by her intelligence and her manner.

Way. To. Go. Ohio.

The last panel (lobbyists for the defense industry) has been postponed because they're voting on the Iraq appropriations bill and they can't have appropriations hearings during an appropriations vote. Makes sense to me.

More later.........

p.s. Todd at Courage Campaign did a great live blog of the hearing at Daily Kos.

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Who is Aegis?

I was watching a bit of the defense subcommittee hearing on contracting out this morning, and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) was good. She said that she decided to research one company that has large contracts with the US to see if that would give her a sense of the situation and she picked Aegis. Unfortunately, she got nowhere with her research because despite finding reports of large amounts of money and approximately 20K contractors in Iraq, she couldn't even find who they have the contract with. She asked a laundry list of folks who they are, and NO one admitted to knowing who they are, including David Petraeus.

Kaptur wants to know who hired them, who oversees them, do they carry weapons, what do they do, etc etc etc. She had lots o' questions for them.

According to Aegis, they're "managing the reconstruction programme in Iraq". You'd think someone would know who they are, wouldn't you?

I'm not sure which, either Mr Hutton or Mr McDermott, told Ms Kaptur that Aegis does intelligence and security work. To her credit, Congresswoman Kaptur replied that she's old fashioned and that sounds like a job that should be done by our military. She also questions why those who should know who they are, told her they had never heard of them, and maybe someone was hiding something.

Congresswoman Kaptur may be on to something there.

btw, According to the Aegis website they have a "contract with the US Department of Defense to provide security support services to the Project and Contracting Office (PCO), responsible for managing the reconstruction programme in Iraq."


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

verrrrry interesting.....

A day or two ago, I heard that Robert Greenwald is testifying before the House Appropriations Defense Sub-committee on Thursday May 10, 2007.

Then early this morning I saw at Courage Campaign that Jeremy Scahill had to postpone Thursday's stop on his book tour for "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army".


I called. I asked. They're both testifying tomorrow on the subject of "contracting out", and John Murtha chairs that committee.

The Majority

Chair: John P. Murtha (PA)
Norman D. Dicks (WA)
Peter J. Visclosky (IN)
James P. Moran (VA)
Marcy Kaptur (OH)
Robert E. "Bud" Cramer, Jr. (AL)
Allen Boyd (FL)
Steven R. Rothman (NJ)
Sanford Bishop (GA)
Dave Obey (WI), Ex Officio


Ranking Member: C.W. Bill Young (FL)
David L. Hobson (OH)
Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (NJ)
Todd Tiahrt (KS)
Roger F. Wicker (MS)
Jack Kingston (GA)
Jerry Lewis (CA), Ex Officio

This should be good.

10:00 AM, 1:30 PM (eastern, I presume) in the Rayburn House office building....and de de da dah!...let there be webcast!

Others will testify too, but I'm just particularly interested in those two. Here's the full schedule.


John P. Hutton Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management
Government Accountability Office

Joseph T. McDermott Assistant Inspector General for Audits
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction


Robert Greenwald
Director/Producer of Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers

Jeremy Scahill
Author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army


Jonathan L. Etherton, President
Etherton and Associates

John J. Hamre, President/CEO
Center for Strategic and International Studies


Monday, May 07, 2007

Celebrate the true meaning of Mother's Day

If my transporter were operational (or if airfare was free!), I'd be spending Mothers Day in Washington DC.

Edwards speaks to DFA on Global Warming

Last month Democracy for America (DFA) invited the presidential candidates to send a video message to DFA members on their plan to address global warming. John Edwards was the first to reply.

"These conservation efforts are an example of what I think the President should do, which is to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war." - John Edwards

You can find more about where John Edwards stands on the issues at

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Don't look now, but I think Canada is laughing at us again

Poppy quarter behind spy coin alert

US Army contractors?

Nevermind. I don't want to know.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Are you suffering from the pain of political reality?

Me too. I suppose it's here to stay, nonetheless.

I hope.

There's an interesting article in the NY Times today about the work and the successes of the antiwar coalition. It's one of the first one's I've read in the MSM that acknowledges a respectable level of professionalism and coordination in the antiwar movement. It's about time. It's a vast improvement over being called traitors, dirty hippies (dirty hippies?), and conspiracy theorists.

I'm a total advocate of what Progressive Democrats of America calls the Inside/Outside strategy. You need both. That's the hard, cold reality. To succeed Progressive political activist need the grassroots on the streets, and the grassroots on the streets need the Progressive political activists. Stopping a war and an occupation are not going to be done through the work of one person or one group or one strategy.

Rosa Parks decision to sit on the bus didn't happen as a spur of the moment stand against injustice. It's was part of a long term strategy by a coalition of activists working for change. That's how you succeed and reach your goal.

Sometimes I get completely annoyed by positions that MoveOn takes, but I'm still willing to remind myself that they are part of the political wing of the Progressive movement, and politics means compromise.

That's not an easy balance for me sometimes. I want immediate results and I'm impatient. I don't want to compromise on issues that are so clear to me, such as the need for transparent elections and not instigating wars of choice.

I just have to believe that compromise is improvement, and sometimes it's a small step that's necessary to achieve the ultimate goal.

I don't have to like it though.

John Edwards at the CA Democratic convention

Finally! Video of John Edwards speech at the California State Democratic Convention.

I've heard from several sources that the Edwards campaign was the winner, if there was in fact a winner, at the convention. He grabbed the most converts. To tell you the truth, he already had me.

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All politics is local...even for Blackwater USA

This week's edition of the East County Californian (sorry, it's not'll have to trust me on this) is reporting that a Potrero resident has filed suit against the Potrero Planning Group (PPG) and it's members, Chairman Gordon Hammers, the County Board of Supervisors, and the San Diego Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU). She is seeking to have the PPG's endorsement of the Blackwater West project thrown out. The suit alleges several violations of the Brown Act, the open government mandate in California, including issues involving the inadequate public notice, and the right to anonymous comment. The Brown Act states that citizens may not be compelled to sign in at a public meeting in order to be allowed to speak. Hammers would not allow this individual to comment at the March meeting because she didn't feel comfortable signing in and wanted her name off the written record. Raymond Lutz of Citizen Oversight was attending that meeting, and read the provision of the Brown Act aloud to the PPG and they still would not allow her to speak.

Additionally, In their December 14, 2006 meeting, the PPG mandated certain conditions for their endorsement of this project, including satisfactory results in a "live fire" noise test in the valley. That noise test has not occurred, because the current owner of the property would not allow it. Additionally, a review of the County records reveal the vote record that was turned in to the County reflecting the PPGs approval of the Blackwater West project is blank, and there is nothing in the record documenting the PPG's noise test requirement. There are also no meeting minutes, nor a transcript of that meeting. Based on the written record, you'd never know that anyone in Potrero was opposed to Blackwater USA setting up camp in their backyard.

I understand that Mr Hammers took his gun out to the valley, and shot off a few rounds and is satisfied noise won't be an issue.

Unfortunately, his private and personal live fire test made enough noise that a resident across the valley called Jan Hedlun, another PPG member (and the ONLY one opposed to this training camp) and said, "someone is firing a gun in the valley".


Prior to filing suit, the plaintiff mentioned above filed a "cure and correct" letter asking for her issues to be addressed, and in return Mr Hammers sent a letter of his own cancelling the April PPG meeting. He's also stated that he will not allow Blackwater issues on future agendas because it just gives the "nitpickers" an opportunity to complain, and from now on all Blackwater issues will be discussed in "executive sessions." According to Mr Hammers, the people opposing Blackwater's establishment of a 824 acre military training facility in their beautiful valley aren't being very "friendly".


This is the same guy that said (I'm paraphrasing here) the only people who don't like it are "drug dealers and liberals" because they don't want the increased police presence. The "patriots" are happy Blackwater has come to town.


Additionally, A little bit of digging has revealed that Potrero Planning Group member Emil Susu is not a registered voter and not eligible to hold the elected office. The County has declared his seat vacant. Susu is registered to vote in Florida, not California. Mr Hammers says when Susu reregisters in Potrero, he'll appoint him to the PPG. Sounds like a nice little kingdom he's got out there.

I hate to break it to them, but in the United States, even those living out in the wild wild west, have to follow the law.

So as the result of all this nonsense, residents are starting a recall movement against several members of the Potrero Planning Group, and replacement candidates are stepping forward to run. Not that any one is asking me, but it seems the best thing would have been for the planning board to listen to the citizens they represent, rather than deciding they know what's best for everyone.

All politics is local! Stay tuned!

In other related tidbits:

This has started getting some national coverage. It's been on Michael Moore's website. The story has been on Democracy Now! An independent filmmaker is planning a documentary about the battle between David and Goliath...I mean Potrero and Blackwater USA. Raymond Lutz's is getting hits from all over the country (as is the blog of yours truly).

And in closing, I must share this quote from former Congressman Lionel Van Deerlin which was included in an April 19 editorial in the The San Diego Union-Tribune, stating, “… the operation Blackwater intends would be like taking ‘Evangeline's’ forest primeval and turning it over to a Hitler panzer corps.”

That man has a way with words, AND he's right.

P.S. Sign the petition to keep Blackwater out of California.

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Support The Walk to End the War

I've not posted anything about Bill McDannell in a while, but he's still on his walk to end the war, and has made it to Kansas.

In case you don't know the story, Bill is a VietNam Vet and a former Methodist minister. Back in November he sold his home, left San Diego on foot, and set off for Washington DC with a petition to end the war in hand, and he's gathering additional signatures along the way. His wife of 14 years, Jonna O'Dell, is accompanying him in their 20 year old motor home. She drives ahead a few miles, waits for him to catch up, and then goes ahead again.

They've got the guys with them too. Here's a picture of the guys.

They're currently near Lawrence, Kansas. That means he's walked about 1,800 miles so far. Amazing.

According to the report I read this morning, they're starting to run low on funds. Bill won't stop, but they're talking about Jonna, the guys, and Nessie (the motor home) staying in Missouri with family, and Bill going on alone. They've had some trouble keeping Nessie going.

I don't know about you, but I HATE the thought of them not going on together, and Bill doing this alone. They have a paypal account. Please avail yourself of that convenience. Obviously, he's dedicated and will keep on going, but let's give him a hand.

So...terryfaceplace sez, read Bill's blog because it will show you his dedication and what kind of man he is, and then send him some bucks. Or send money first. Either way....let's keep the Walk to End the War going so Bill can get to Washington with his petition....and Jonna and hopefully Nessie and the guys too!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Clean Money keeps on keepin' on

From today's CA Clean Money email on AB 583, The California Clean Money And Fair Elections Act:

I want you to be among the first to hear the exciting news: California Senate President pro Tem Don Perata just became a co-author of AB 583, the Clean Money bill!

Excellent news! One more (big) step in the right direction.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I was standing on a street corner, minding my own business....

Three women, seventeen lanes of traffic, and one student from the Dana Rohrabacher School of Political Discourse who screeched, "I hope they cut your heads off!!!!"

My goodness!

I got an email from Barbara that said she was going to the Jeremy Scahill appearance in La Mesa tonight to discuss his book, Blackwater, The Rise of the Worlds Most Powerful Mercenary Army....but before it started she'd be at this intersection to protest. Well, I didn't want to go home, and then have to leave again within the hour, so I decided to join her and whomever else was there. Moveon called for a protest, and I don't know that we were an Official MoveOn Protest, but we were out that flapping our signs in the wind.

We were there for about an hour. Lots of thumbs up and honks. There were a few people like our friend I mentioned above. One guy leaned out the window of his truck and yelled, "You're so stupid. What good do you think you're doing?"

Later this evening a woman approached Barbara at the Scahill event and told her thank you for being on that corner! She'd been driving home and was thinking she was too tired to go to the Democratic Club meeting, and then she saw us and decided if we could do that, she could go to her meeting. How about that? It did do some good! That rude man in the truck was wrong.

When it was time to go, we left our little corner, and went to hear Jeremy Scahill talk about Blackwater. He tailored his talk a bit to the fact that he's here in San Diego where they want to build their training facility, and he so he gave a good, solid background of the company.

BTW, Scahill is a very interesting, compelling speaker, and you should go see him when he comes around on his book tour.

He said he went to Potrero today to see the area where they want to build, and commented on how beautiful and peaceful it is in that valley. It really distresses me that they want to build this in that area. Not that I want this anywhere, but really really really not THERE.

It was fun to check out the Democratic Club tonight. It was SRO in that room. They had about 300 people in attendance, and they sold all the books that Borders brought for Jeremy to sign. It was a good crowd of people, and I had lots of face time (ha ha) with folks, talking about the issue and encouraging them to sign the petition opposing Blackwater in California. Former congressman Lionel Van Deerlin was there. I gave him my petition pitch he said, "you don't have to convince me". :-)

And the winner for best line I heard all evening is:
"85 years ago when I was 16 years old...."

Uh....maybe it's time for the next generation to start getting involved in the Dem Club here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More on Jeremy Scahill in San Diego

As mentioned below, Jeremy Scahill, the author of the national bestseller, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army is speaking at the San Diego UU church this evening and at the La Mesa Community Center tomorrow. While he's in town, he's also appearing on two KPBS programs.

Tuesday, May 1, 6:30 p.m. KPBS TV, "Full Focus" - A Broad Look at Blackwater. There should be video at that link by sometime tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 2, 9:20 a.m. to 10 a.m., KPBS RADIO "These Days" which will be a debate between Scahill and a Blackwater lobbyist.

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