Thursday, May 31, 2007

Retire to Michigan

It was fun visiting Vegas and seeing the glitz and glamor of all the fancy casinos, but I hated the weather. It was 98 degrees the whole time we were there, which still felt hot in spite of the low humidity. Even riding in our rental car with the air conditioner turned up full blast was uncomfortable, especially if the sky was clear and the sun was beating down, which happens nearly everyday. Cloudy skies are anomalies in the Vegas area. The TV weatherperson said Vegas only averages 22 days of appreciable rainfall a year.

Hazy skies are not an anomaly though. It was extremely hazy while we were there, and a friend of mine who lives in N. Vegas told me the haze comes from the wildfires in California. She said as long as they have wildfires, Vegas has haze. She also told me not to drink the tap water which is apparently
contaminated with cryptosporidium, a microscopic organism that can cause severe diarrhea in healthy people, and can be fatal to people with compromised immune systems. She claims the locals only drink bottled water. That alarmed me, but her advice was too late. I had already been drinking the tap water in Vegas for two days after paying $3 for bottled water my first day there. I guess the $7 dollar mango daiquiris killed the critters in the tap water because I never got sick!

I also learned a few other things about Vegas and Nevada while listening to their local news.
Nevada has topped the list in the number of home foreclosures for four consecutive months - up 224 percent from a year earlier. Renting is problematic too. One cabbie told us his rent was $450 dollars four years ago and is now $850 dollars, nearly double.

There are a large number of homeless people in Vegas too. The week we were there the F.O.E. provided haircuts, baths and dental care for nearly 4,000 (mostly Iraq war) veterans living on the streets. Las Vegas has a total of more than
14,500 homeless people. In fact, I was surprised to learn Nevada ranks second nationally and is more than double the national average in the number of homeless.

The mayor of Vegas once suggested sending homeless people to a vacant prison 30 miles out of town, and city council members recently passed an ordinance making it illegal to give food to homeless people in city parks, but, thankfully, more compassionate and level-headed lawmakers took action. They recently came up with a plan to help each homeless person who uses on average about $40,000 per year in local resources such as jail, court time and medical expenses:
Several Nevada mayors gathered here Monday to support a proposal that would funnel $20 million over two years to local governments to help eradicate homelessness.

The mayors said it makes economic sense to fund transitional housing and other services such as drug abuse counseling to get homeless people of streets.
The state government is considering ways to help the prison population (and their budget) too:
Confined by Nevada's gloomy budget projections, the Legislature is poised to revise the state prison and legal systems to undo elements of the tough-on-crime legislation of 10 years ago.

The purpose is largely to avoid embarking on an expensive prison-building campaign by slowing the growth of the prison population. That would be accomplished through lighter sentences and faster paroles.

Assemblyman David Parks, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Select Committee on Corrections, Parole and Probation, said one pending bill could make 1,000 inmates eligible for parole immediately, and make 3,800 more inmates eligible in the next five years.
I didn't hear anything about education on television, but I did hear complaints from several locals about their schools, which they partially attribute to the fact that Nevada ranks near the bottom in the number of dollars spent on education. They also rank near the bottom in preparing students for success in school and future careers.

Finally, I couldn't mention Nevada without mentioning taxes. As you may know, Nevada has no income tax, but their sales tax is among the highest in the nation. In Las Vegas (Clark County), the sales tax is 7.75% and the gasoline tax is 23 cents (with some counties charging up to an additional 10 cents per gallon). A little searching turned up these
additional sources of revenue:
[...] Bank branch tax; car rental tax; cigarette tax; entertainment tax; gaming tax; incorporation taxes; insurance premium tax; jet fuel tax; licensing taxes; liquor tax; livestock tax; lodging taxes; mining taxes; per-employee business tax; public utility taxes; sales tax; tire tax; unemployment insurance tax; and the oh-so-unpopular vehicle registration tax.
Did I like Nevada enough to retire there? No way! I like having green trees and plants to look at out my window instead of rocks and dirt, and I even like our four seasons, including winter. Nope, I wouldn't move to Nevada, not even to avoid paying income tax. Besides, according to Prudential Nevada Realty's website, what I save in tax dollars I'd spend elsewhere:
To maintain the same standard of living, a salary of $50,000 in Grand Blanc [Michigan] should increase to $67,368 in North Las Vegas. In other words, it's 35% more expensive to live in North Las Vegas than in Grand Blanc.
Oh, and did I mention that Michigan's water is safe to drink?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who cares about people?

I read something in the State News that accurately depicts the mindset of too many politicians today - primarily Republicans. It was said by Terry Denbow, spokesman for MSU, about our lawmakers budget deal that will cut millions of dollars from higher education:
"The disinvestment action Friday was indicative of a core problem in our state," he said. "Higher education is deemed more an expense than an investment."
The cuts could result in double-digit tuition increases for thousands of college students, but that doesn't matter to state Republicans who were adamantly opposed to any tax increase. The Flint Journal calls their actions "callous political maneuvering."

I think callous pretty much hits the nail on the head. State Republicans essentially put their Grover Norquist, no-tax constituents ahead of Michigan's college students, but who cares if they have to pay more to get an education? It's more important to serve the interests of a minority of anti-tax zealots.

Investing in people isn't important to President Bush either according to the CBPP:
The President’s budget for fiscal year 2008 proposes to cut $2 billion (5 percent) from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), compared to the 2007 funding level, adjusted for inflation.[1] The deepest cuts would be made in housing for the elderly and disabled (a 29 percent cut), Community Development Block Grants (a 22 percent cut), public housing (an 8 percent cut), and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (a 5 percent cut) ...

The President is proposing these cuts despite evidence that growing numbers of low-income families have serious housing affordability problems. Some 15 million low-income households have rent and utility costs that are unaffordable under federal standards (i.e., costs that exceed 30 percent of their modest incomes).
Who cares if the poor, disabled or elderly can't afford to put a roof over their head? It's more important to continue to pass along tax cuts to the rich or fund this illegal war that's making millions for contractors.

To be fair, some politicians get it. Some politicians understand that we need to invest in people. Take this example from Lucas County, Ohio:

Lucas County offering needy families $200 gasoline cards/Officials hope $1.5M program will help workers keep jobs
The initiative will be announced at a press conference today at the Speedway gas station on Central Avenue and Holland-Sylvania Road in Sylvania Township. The county partnered with Speedway because they offered cards that can only be used for fuel and not other items sold inside the gas stations.

This is the second year of the gas card program.

[...] There is about $1.5 million available for the program this year, which is funded through the state Prevention, Retention, and Compliance program, a part of the federal Office of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

[...] "It really is pretty helpful, especially for some of our single families that are struggling," said Deb Ortiz-Flores, executive director of the local Job and Family Services.

She said the cost of transportation is one of the greatest employment obstacles faced by residents in Lucas County.
Getting a higher education is right up there at the top of that list too, but who cares? Not Michigan's callous politicians.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Temporarily Closed

I wanted to let everyone know I won't be updating this blog too often over the next couple of weeks. My hubby and I are flying west to start our vacation tomorrow. I won't tell you where we're going, but I'll give you a hint: What happens there, stays there!

When I get home, I have a baby shower to help my sister finish planning and throw. My daughter (who is also my baby) is having a baby in July. She miscarried last year and took it pretty hard, so this pregnancy has helped with the healing process. We don't know the sex of the baby yet (my daughter and son-in-law preferred to wait and be surprised), but if you can make out any definitive signs whether it's a boy or a girl from this ultrasound picture, please, let me know! It will make it easier for Grandma to shop for baby clothes.

Anyway, there's also a holiday coming up soon, so that pretty much guarantees my time is going to be limited for the next few weeks. If something important happens while I'm gone (like Bush resigning), drop by and give me the real scoop, not the Faux News version, okay?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Forget Blackwater, Stick with the National Guard

Something I read on Libby's blog - The Impolitic - caught my attention. She was talking about Kansas' crippled efforts to conduct a proper search and rescue attempt after their tornado because of their strapped National Guard units, and she concluded with this:
Our National Guard should be here at home doing the job they signed up for, rendering service on the homefront, rather than being sent thousands of miles of away for years on end in the name of imperialistic follies. Instead, when the next disaster strikes a major metro area, the taxpayer will be footing the bill for Blackwater mercenaries at ten times the price.
Libby may be onto something with her comment about Blackwater. Consider this article:
Increasingly a magnet for controversy, Blackwater USA has encountered a bumpy road implementing its national and international expansion plans.

The Moyock, N.C.-based private military company's plans to open an Asian branch in the Philippines have been scrapped and one stateside proposal has drawn considerable heat.

"We are no longer pursuing a facility in the Philippines," Anne Tyrrell, a company spokeswoman, said this week. [...]

Closer to home, Blackwater's drive to open a West Coast outpost has run into a buzzsaw of public opposition. More than half the registered voters of a tiny rural community east of San Diego, the proposed site of "Blackwater West," have signed a petition opposing the project. [...]

Meanwhile, Blackwater's new northern base in Illinois - where the company had no local regulatory hurdles to overcome - opened quietly this week, offering a variety of courses in firearms use, law enforcement and military tactics.
It is curious that the company quietly goes around expanding their facilities when according to an article in the Metro Times they have an extensive training facility in North Carolina.
Blackwater has a private fleet of more than twenty aircraft, including helicopter gunships and a surveillance blimp division. Its 7,000-acre headquarters in Moyock, North Carolina, is the world's largest private military facility. It trains tens of thousands of federal and local law enforcement agents a year and troops from "friendly" foreign nations.
Maybe they're positioning themselves to be accessible as emergencies arise in the south, out west or in the heartland in order to secure government contracts like they did after Hurricane Katrina. Privatization is a big, big story, according to what Jeremy Schahill told Metro Times:
[...] "Blackwater is a company that's engaged to tell a much bigger story. We are living right now in the middle of the most radical privatization agenda in the history of this country," Scahill tells Metro Times. "The Bush administration has used the private sector to essentially double the size of the occupation using troops whose deaths don't get counted in the official death toll and are operating outside the official system of law."

Scahill was reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when he met several Blackwater "operatives" as he calls them. The company originally said its services were "donated" to the relief effort, but then it was awarded a no-bid contract with the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Protective Services to defend reconstruction projects and several private businesses, Scahill reports. [...]

"I feel like Hurricane Katrina provided us a window into the future of what could happen in this country with natural disasters or national emergencies," Scahill says. "Training and putting arms into the hands of private contractors who are accountable to no one, to me, is a very disturbing trend in this country."
If you don't find that disturbing, consider this statement from Metro Times:
"As one U.S. Congressmember observed, in strictly military terms, Blackwater could overthrow many of the world's governments."
I don't have a problem with privatization if it saves the taxpayer money, provides equal or better service, and is bid on in an open and honest matter. I do have a problem with no-bid contracts that end up costing us more. In Blackwater's case, the company has cost the taxpayers lots more money as I've posted before, and here's another example from Metro Times:
In contrast to active-duty soldiers who are poorly paid, Blackwater's guards were given six-figure salaries. "Standard wages for PSD (personal security detail) pros [in Iraq] were previously running about $300 [per man] a day," Fortune magazine reported at the time. "Once Blackwater started recruiting for its first big job, guarding Paul Bremer, the rate shot up to $600 a day."
I'm not sure what Blackwater's motivation is, but we don't need their services. We have National Guard troops available to help us in national emergencies that could use an infusion of cash to replace their missing equipment. Oh, and if the Bush administration really wants to spend more money, give the National Guard members a raise. They need it more than Erik Prince, millionaire owner of Blackwater.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

College graduate wages fall

There's good news/bad news for college graduates from the EPI:
The labor market for young college graduates, those ages 25 to 35, is slowly improving, but remains weaker than before the last recession in 2001.

These well-schooled individuals—possessing at least a bachelor's degree, and in some cases, an advanced degree—would be expected to fare better than those without college degrees because demand for their skills should insulate them from labor market fluctuations. However, while their employment levels are higher than those without college degrees, employment trends still indicate that young college graduates have not returned to the wage levels or employment rates just prior to the start of the 2001 recession.

After a slight rise in real hourly wages among young college graduates in 2005, their wages fell again in 2006, continuing an otherwise downward trend since 2001. Hourly wages in 2006 were $23.60, down from $23.86 in 2005 and still below the level of $24.54 in 2001.
If it's any consolation, illegal immigrants are finding it rough too. According to USA Today, a recent drop in illegal crossings is tied to our slow economy, especially in the construction industry, which employs many undocumented workers.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Steelworkers union gets Wall Street attention

It's not too often a paper like the Wall Street Journal writes a positive story about a union (if ever), but as the AFL-CIO blog points out, even Wall Street can't help but admire success.
Today’s Wall Street Journal takes note of the United Steelworkers (USW) successful corporate strategies. As the Journal writes, the union’s
…strategy, rather than simply to pound the table for higher pay or threaten strikes, is to block takeovers, take sides in bidding wars and fight for board seats.
The paper cites the example of Brazilian steel corporation CSN, which maneuvered last year to merge with Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp.
The USW wanted what it considered a more union-friendly bidder than CSN, and found one in Chicago upstart Esmark Inc. Executives of Esmark promised that if they got hold of Wheeling-Pitt, there would be no union layoffs there. The union threw its weight behind Esmark, which then mounted a fierce proxy fight to oust the Wheeling-Pitt board. In November, it won handily.

“We turned the entire board over in one day—little old Steelworkers and little old Esmark,” says Ron Bloom, the steel union’s point man in the battle.
Bloom is the economic advisor and assistant to International Union President, Leo Gerard, and he's also a former Wall Street investment banker who joined the USW as a strategy advisor in 1996. His pedigree as a former Wall Streeter may be one reason the WSJ wrote about the union, but he definitely has some populist ideas that show concern and respect for those of us who worry about losing our jobs to outsourcing.

Here's a
sample of some remarks Bloom delivered last year to the INSOL International Annual Regional Conference [pdf] [emphasis mine]:
We certainly acknowledge that we live in a global market economy, but we make no apology for our belief that the market does not adequately express the value of labor. This is the fundamental reason why workers act collectively—so that they can achieve more for themselves than the market would otherwise provide.

Now we happen to believe that this structure is an intrinsic part of a democratic and just society. But whether you agree with that or not, the fact is that in normal times, and even more so in an insolvency, when everything is both figuratively and literally up for grabs, you should expect that we will use our collective strength to protect what we have worked so hard to achieve.

I also cannot help noting that I find it more than a little incongruous to be told by someone making more in an hour than a pensioner receives in a month that pension benefits and the union who helped secure them are the cause of the company’s problem.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Our children should be non-negotiable

I thought Michigan's anti-government, anti-tax Republicans were hard-hearted and ruthless until I read this article about the GOP-controlled Montana House where the legislature ended without a budget, and Montana is now on the brink of its own version of the 1996 Gingrich-Clinton government shutdown.

Our Republican lawmakers haven't stooped that low yet, but Michigan is on the verge of a government shutdown because they're unwilling to consider a budget that includes any tax increase whatsoever. It should be pointed out that polls show a majority of Michigan voters support a tax increase combined with spending cuts. (It appears the MIGOP is taking a lesson from George Bush who also doesn't care what polls say.) If a compromise isn't worked out soon, libraries are facing a 50% reduction in money, Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals will be cut 6%, and local districts will face a $125 per pupil cut.

Speaking of that $125 cut, here's an
example from MiLib of a state Republican - Michelle McManus - who would make Montana's GOP proud:
Last Thursday, a group of 4th graders from Crystal Lake Elementary School in Benzonia took a trip down to Lansing to meet with their legislators at the Capitol, including State Senator Michelle McManus (R-McManus Family).

On the bus ride down, the parents on the trip - some Republicans, some Democrats and some independants - talked with the kids about Michigan's budget crisis, including the $125 per pupil cut that will be made if the Republicans don't cover their expenses in the next 24 days. These cuts would cost the students of the Benzie County Central School District, which includes Crystal Lake Elementary, $246,285.

In response, the kids took part in a silent protest:

This was way, way too much for Michelle McManus. In response, she allegedly called the Capitol Tour service and tried to have these 4th graders banned from the Capitol building. That's right: a second term state senator responded to a silent protest not aimed at her but at the budget situation in general by trying to ban a group of 4th graders from ever visiting the site of their state government again!
That was a pretty petulant response on McManus' part, and it also sent those children the message that government doesn't care about them. How ironic that Republicans believe in building democracies, but they don't care about building the foundations that benefit our children.

If you care about our children, read this letter a parent from Crystal Lake Elementary is sending around the state and then urge our legislators to do the right thing:
email Sen. Mcmanus @ with -125 in the subject line----- Please let her know that she is elected by us, and her Job is to LISTEN to US--and let her know that we are very disappointed in her unprofessional behavior , then let her know that ANY cut to schools will impact us and hurt our children---Another cut this year will be the third pro-ration cut in the last five years......As an elected official she has an obligation to provide Michigan with more than bargain basement services--- and that Education is the KEY economic developmental tool for Michigan
Are you listening, Republicans? Building a future for our children should be non-negotiable.

Update: MiLib posted a reply from Sen. McManus. She denies having the children banned from the Capitol and accuses the parents of using the children as props in a political demonstration, but her words ring pretty hollow since MiLib includes extensive pictorial examples of the times McManus used children as props.

Update 2: MiLib reports that the media is now onto this story.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Circuit City still a loser

In March, Circuit City decided to axe 3,400 experienced, knowledgeable workers and replace them with lower-paid hires. So, how is that working out for them? From a PR standpoint, not too well.

Angry consumers are boycotting Circuit City stores across the country:
Gary Cleek, 57, of Kingsport, Tenn., said the firings were enough to make him stop shopping at Circuit City. "I don't view someone who works for a living as a commodity."
Neither do labor unions who are also getting involved by staging informational pickets, and one AFL-CIO local is even holding a protest rally at a Circuit City store in Roseville, Illinois today.

What about profits? Did the firings help Circuit City's bottom line? Nope, the company recently
reported it may have a loss of $80-90 million before taxes after sales fell "substantially below-plan," and analysts say the job cuts are backfiring.
[...] Analysts said Circuit City had cast off some of its most experienced and successful people and was losing business to competitors who have better-trained employees.

"I think even though sales were soft in March, this is clearly why April sales were worse. They were replaced with less knowledgeable associates," said Tim Allen, an analyst with Jefferies & Co.
Television sales were especially disappointing, which could also be a result of softening consumer spending and end up hurting other retailers like Best Buy, but analysts believe Circuit City's problems are for the most part a direct result of dumping their experienced workers.
[...] Baker also said Circuit City's situation is mostly a result of its loss of informed workers. Best Buy "will fare better because of market share gains driven by weakening customer service at Circuit City," he wrote. "We believe that Circuit City's store labor change . . . likely has had a worse than expected impact on Circuit City's service levels and has enabled [Best Buy] to take share."
Investors should be furious with Circuit City's CEO Philip Schoonover who was paid $8.52 million in fiscal 2006. You would think a highly paid, educated man would know better than to cut his experienced sales staff. As Samuel Culbert, professor of human resources and organization at the University of California at Los Angeles said, "There is nothing more important than relationships in commerce."

Maybe the only relationship Schoonover is concerned about is the one between him and the board of directors. What does he care if consumers take their business to a store with better customer service - he already made his money.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

MIGOP votes no on Hate Crime Bill

The House passed the Hate Crime Bill 237-180 today (which expands federal hate crime categories to include violent attacks against gays and people targeted because of gender), but not before the Republicans tried a few tricks.

Steny Hoyer and John Conyers just pulled a fast one on the GOP. The GOP has been refusing to support the hate crimes bill because it doesn't include members of the US Armed Forces and senior citizens. Conyers just rose and basically said, okay, I'll add them. The Republicans' response? Uh, no.

The Republicans have been railing for days about how this legislation doesn't cover our Armed Forces and senior citizens, and now that the Dems offer to put our Armed Forces and seniors in this legislation, the Republicans said no and affirmatively stopped the Democrats from doing it anyway.

That means the Republicans had no intent on helping our Armed Forces and seniors, on protecting them. It was just a stunt. The GOP leaders in Congress just got up and used our Armed Forces and seniors as political fodder when they had no intent on actually doing anything to help our Armed Forces and seniors.
Of course it was a stunt. The Republicans are good at playing games instead of doing what they were elected to do - govern.

By the way, all of Michigan's Republicans rubber-stamped Bush (who said earlier today he will veto the bill) by voting no: Dave Camp, Vernon Ehlers, Peter Hoekstra, Joe Knollenberg, Thad McCotter, Candice Miller, Mike Rogers, Fred Upton, Timothy Walberg

And all of Michigan's Democrats voted yes: John Conyers, John Dingell, Dale Kildee, Carolyn Kilpatrick, Sander Levin, Bart Stupak

Update: Go to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood to read some additional background information on the bill and Mr. Rogers.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Republican speakers not wanted

Republicans haven't felt too welcomed on the speaking circuit lately. Last week, V.P. Cheney faced protests when he delivered the commencement speech at BYU, and locally many of us have been voicing our complaints about Cleary University's decision to pay controversial Anne Coulter $30,000 to speak at the school's Economic Speakers Luncheon Series this fall.

(I side with those who oppose her appearance, but after a multitude of letters, calls and
posts to blogs asking the school's president to reconsider, Cleary President Tom Sullivan decided to stick with Coulter. He claims the goal of the series is to: "enrich the community by hosting speakers who can share a broad spectrum of business, social, political, intellectual, and cultural experiences." I'll leave it up to you to decide if Coulter "enriches" anyone but herself.)

Moving along, President Bush is scheduled to give the commencement address at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA next week and the decision is drawing disapproval from a most unlikely source - the college's former president, Maynard Brennan - who gives very principled reasons why the president is unsuitable:

Mr. President: This place is not your place
St. Vincent College should not host a leader who has exhibited values antithetical to its mission
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
By Maynard Brennan

On Friday, May 11, President Bush is scheduled to give the commencement address at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. To honor the leader of this country would seem a unique opportunity. However, President Bush and his administration have so often violated Christian, Catholic and Benedictine teaching and tradition that I firmly oppose this distinction. Let me explain.

For 35 years I was educated and lived the venerable Benedictine life. I maintain the Benedictine spirit as essential and defining for my life journey.

Four years ago, I was heartsick when President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. At that time I endorsed the words of Pope John Paul II as he opposed this ill-fated, immoral adventure. I was pleased that in 2005 the leadership of Benedictine men and women, 2,357 strong, issued the Benedictine Peace Statement: "We believe that violence does not yield peace. We are concerned about the military and political ethos of our own country where justice is defined on the basis of our self-interest rather than on a consciousness that we are part of a common humanity."

I am disturbed that my alma mater will place before graduating seniors one whose leadership and administration have violated and ignored this exhortation. Recently, during his Easter greetings, Pope Benedict XVI continued the criticism: "Nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees."

In addition, while Mr. Bush served as governor of Texas, 152 people were executed. On at least five occasions Pope John Paul II wrote to Gov. Bush requesting clemency for individuals on death row. Mr. Bush rejected these requests, as well as one made to him during his presidency. This shows Mr. Bush's outright disregard for contemporary Catholic moral teaching.

Mr. Bush calls himself a born-again Christian; he quotes the Bible; conservative Christians form his political base. Yet, in Matthew 25 we read that Jesus identifies with the hungry, the thirsty, the naked and the imprisoned. This gospel further challenges us: If we do not care for the least and the lowest, we cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Has Mr. Bush led us to care for the powerless and the marginalized? The numbers of poor, homeless and imprisoned people in this country continue to rise. The gap between the rich and poor grows exponentially: According to the most recent figures, the top 1 percent of Americans -- whose average income was $1.1 million a year -- received 21.8 percent of the nation's income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 37 million Americans, or 12.6 percent of our population, were living in poverty in 2005. I cannot forget the many pictures of American poor struggling for survival after Katrina. Many continue to suffer so many years later.

Certainly our country needed to respond to the horror of Sept. 11, 2001. Subsequently, we broke the back of al-Qaida and took military action to eliminate the Taliban in Afghanistan. Imagine what would have happened if the United States had then focused on building hospitals and training Afghans to heal their own people. Imagine what humane gospel values would have been seen if we had improved the irrigation system, thus bringing clean water to isolated villages. Those pictures would have been broadcast throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

Instead we invaded Iraq, a country with many revered Muslim holy sites, making us seem to many as the latest incarnation of Western domination or even crusade. Extreme fundamentalists in Afghanistan are making a fearsome return. Our actions have become the best recruiting tool for terrorists.

When I was president of St. Vincent College, I was proud to stand before the graduates and encourage them to engage the world with wholesome gospel values. A commencement speaker is a living example of such virtue, sending graduates forth with vision and hope. I have serious misgivings that President Bush can fulfill this exalted role. How can a man whose administration has been so tainted by incompetence and corruption be a worthwhile role model for young people?
Note to Cleary University: Book Maynard Brennan in the future and I'll buy a ticket to hear him speak.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

You can't veto the truth

I don't care what explanation the president gives for his veto. I don't want to hear it. Enough is enough already.

Americans United for Change have an ad ready to run in response to President Bush's veto and it says everything anyone needs to know:
Mr. President. You can veto a bill, but you can’t veto the truth.