The Revolution Starts . . . Now

I’m Calling Bullshit On Homelessness. I have never lost a flame war yet, and I’m not about to start with this one. In two recent diaries over at MyDD, Tax Welfare For Billionaires and Tax Welfare For Billionaires II I pointed out that tax cuts for billionaires were nothing more than thinly disguised welfare programs for the ultra rich. Since homeless Americans and working Americans have a greater need for economic assistance in these perilous economic times, I decided to take over Birch Park just south of downtown Santa Ana (page 829 in your Thomas Guide at E3) as a statement of my discontent with the current economic conventional wisdom that providing welfare to billionaires will eventually trickle down to the rest of us.

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Patriot Act Traitors

Russ Feingold delivered an eloquent and passionate speech on the Senate floor denouncing Bush’s wireless wiretapping program.
The Democrats have failed their party, their base and their country with a recent behind the scenes agreement on Bush’s wiretapping legislation. A Salon article by Russ Feingold details the bitter truth. (watch 30 second ad for day pass)

It seemed like a watershed moment for the Democratic Party. At the end of 2005, Democrats, along with a small band of Republicans, stopped a bad Patriot Act reauthorization bill in its tracks.

Surprise, surprise! The Democratic leadership has failed to protect our freedom, liberty and Constitutional rights one more time.

Expect Democrats and some Republicans to insist that they have won some significant improvements to the Patriot Act. Don’t believe it. The few minor concessions they got from the White House are a fig leaf to disguise a complete about-face. Thanks to this deal, the White House will be emboldened in its fear-mongering, Democrats will be perceived as timid, and the American people will still face the prospect of government intrusion into their private affairs. Some deal.

What happened?

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A Daily Act Of Conscience

Constructive social change and progress do not march forward at a steady pace. Rather, they are a series of successive plateaus that are achieved, attacked, defended and then once more moved forward. With the Democratic Party caught up by ineffective political paralysis, many progressives are feeling frustrated and caught up in despair. Nothing cripples the will like isolation.“The antidote to such paralysis is hope: defiant, resilient, persistent hope, no matter what the odds against us may be. As Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner’s magazine writes, “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change.”
We can help the evidence change by engaging in a daily act of conscience.

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Medicare Prescription Drug Glitch

An excellent column from Michael Hiltik on Tuesday describes how hopelessly confused Bush’s medicare prescription drug plan is for America’s seniors. Glitch Adds to Medicare Drug Plan Confusion:

Peculiarities and complexities that render it almost useless for millions of potential beneficiaries. The most serious drawback is the one that snagged me: While the program bases its calculations of prescription costs on a “30-day supply” of each drug, for those taken orally it assumes that a 30-day supply is 30 pills.
But many medications aren’t taken once a day. Unless the user manually overrides the 30-pill default, the result can be wildly misleading.

Hiltzik is a tad more blunt at his Golden State Blog

–HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt’s one-month progress report on the drug plan. This is a terrific example of the Bush Administration’s Potemkin village approach to dealing with crises: Pretend it’s someone else’s fault or an act of God, and claim to be doing your level best while you turn everything you touch into crap

Blogging the SOTU from the Grand Casino

Actually I am just following the SOTU from the Grand Casino Bakery & Cafe in Culver City. Culver City has free WiFi, so I didn’t even have to search out a coffee shop, which also happens to be a bakery. Fortunately they have a terrific signature desert called Caja. It’s right on Main Street in beautiful downtown Culver City. You can’t miss it.
Someday soon the whole world will be free WiFi.

[Update: Grand Casino would not give me the recipe and even google could not pull up a dessert from Uruguay, but the ingredients were white cake, dulce de leche, peaches, chantilly cream and layered baked meringue. Next time I’m going to order two Chaja’s instead of a Chaja and a Chocolate Mousse Cake.

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David Sirota at Cal Dem Executive Board Meeting

David Sirota was the featured speaker at the 4:00 meeting. David talks a little faster than Scott Ritter and presents more of a challenge as far as taking down a literal transcription. On the other hand, David offered to respond to comments, so hopefully that will compensate for any message errors from my loose transcription.

Here goes nothing:

We have to see outselves as part of a movement, not a group of special interests. (someone) mentioned that conservatives see the Republican Party as a means to an end. It was an offhand remark, because it is so obvious. Too often progressives have seen the Democratic Party as an end in itself and not a means to an end. We’ve got to start making real substantive change our goal.

The Democratic Party is caught in a battle for its soul. The party permits and even congratulates those in its ranks who sell out the middle class and working Americans. Bills like bankruptcy, CAFTA, etc. When Democrats like Pelosi and Murtha say it’s time to end  the Iraq war once and for all, there is always someone who will rush out and say they are not speaking for all Democrats.

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Scott Ritter at California Democratic Executive Board Meeting

Scott Ritter was the featured speaker at today’s luncheon at the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board Meeting in Manhattan Beach earlier today. I transcribed his speech fairly accurately, but please do not hold Scott Ritter accountable for any small factual errors in dates or syntax. Here it is:

I’m a registered Republican, an American and a very conservative person, but that’s not the reason I’m here today. I’m here more importantly, because Art Torres invited me. The most important title of all is American. One of the brilliant ironies is being a conservative Republican and being on the same side as progressive Democrats.

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Democratic Rapid Response Team

I’m at the Democratic Executive Board Meeting in Manhattan Beach. I just attended a Media Rapid Response workshop and asked a couple of panelists to participate in a diary I put up at MyDD this morning.
No guarantees, but check out Democratic Rapid Response Team. David Sirota is the featured speaker, discussing the concepts in his new book Hostile Takeover. I’ll add something about that later.

The Most Incompetent And Corrupt President In History

Hat tip to Obsidian Wings for analysis on a NY Times article about an audit performed by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Is There Nothing This Administration Does Competently? Short answer: No.

“A new audit of American financial practices in Iraq has uncovered irregularities including millions of reconstruction dollars stuffed casually into footlockers and filing cabinets, an American soldier in the Philippines who gambled away cash belonging to Iraq, and three Iraqis who plunged to their deaths in a rebuilt hospital elevator that had been improperly certified as safe.
The audit, released yesterday by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, expands on its previous findings of fraud, incompetence and confusion as the American occupation poured money into training and rebuilding programs in 2003 and 2004.

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It’s The Earmarks Stupid!

Campaign Finance Reform is the hot reform issue du jour. Oversight of travel, meals and free trips on corporate jets have all been mentioned in passing. The elephant in the living room that neither political party has hardly mentioned is earmarking. CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has a Knight-Ridder article that has a short and sweet description of earmarking that suggests earmarking is the biggest problem:

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