Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 212

This last week was the 6th anniversary of Bush's Mission Accomplished speech about Iraq. Meanwhile US soldiers are still dying in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the Taliban are slowly taking over more and more of BOTH Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Osama bin Laden is still free. I never was quite sure what mission Bush thought he'd accomplished. Other than miserable failure.

Swine flu continues to be the big news story. And it will continue to be, I think, but I still say that with modern amentities like clean water, indoor heating and fever reducing medicine, this won't be as bad as past pandemics, at least in the US. Remember to wash you hands a lot! I want to also direct people's attention to this: UW Virologist Puts Swine Flu in Perspective.

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 211

This week included Earth Day. So I am highlighting several important environmental actions (including in the State Focus sections) you can take that can affect your environmental impact year round. Most of these actions also contribute to rebuilding our economy and energy infrastructure.

Torture has been a big issue this week. I understand both the attitude that we have to prosecute those who ordered torture, but I also understand the urge to move on from it. Of course I would prefer if some people went to jail for the illegal and immoral actions they ordered. But the main point I want to keep at the forefront is that the use of torture is KNOWN to be an ineffective method of getting information. The use of torture has traditionally NOT been a method of gaining information, but a terror tactic. That is how it has been used from the Spanish Inquisition, to the Nazis to Stalinist Russia. Let's also remember that the United States has at least twice defined waterboarding as torture and prosecuted people for it. We prosecuted as war criminals Japanese who waterboarded during WW II, and waterboarding was designated as illegal by U.S. generals in the Vietnam War. So why were we doing it? We have to remember these things no matter what answer we give to the question of whether we should prosecute or move on.

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What's in YOUR Walleye?

I can't believe this story isn't getting more play: Dow Chemical is sponsoring the big Lion's Club Walleye Festival out on the Tittabawasse River in Michigan on Saturday...
 .. Dow's plant upstream contaminated the river with Dioxin (and other things). The state DNR has an advisory out about eating the fish from that river - if you have to eat the fish, do it in moderation, or not at all if your pregnant, etc.

The guys at the Lion's Club say that if the anglers don't want to eat what they catch, then the fish will be filleted and distributed to poor people. see

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 210

This week the Right Wing seemed to be all about tea, or something. Which is odd because all I heard from them was whining. It should have been wine and cheese, not tea, because it was all whining and cheesy cliches that really are meaningless if you scratch the surface. It led the anti-America Texas governor to even suggest Texas might want to secede. He might want to study some American history (even though he seems to hate American democracy) and he might discover that secession is a dead end, and was something largely opposed by the likes of George Washington, James Madison and, in particular, Andrew Jackson. Isn't it really ironic that at least one of these secessionist wine and cheese...I mean "tea parties" was in front of a statue of Andrew Jackson when THIS is what Andrew Jackson had to say about secession in his "Proclamation to the People of South Carolina" during the nullification crisis:

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White House planning five regional forums on health care reform

Following up on yesterday's health care summit, the White House has announced plans to hold regional forums on health care in five states. From today's press release:

The Regional White House Forums on Health Care Reform will be hosted by the states' Governors and will include participants ranging from doctors to patients to providers to policy experts.  They will be open conversations with everyday Americans, local, state and federal elected officials - both Democrat and Republican -- and senior Obama administration officials.  The events will begin with a video recorded by the President, a summary of the findings from the Health Care Community Discussions that took place in December, and an overview of the discussion that took place at the White House Forum on Health Reform.

The meetings in California, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina and Vermont will take place in March and early April.  Further logistical information about the forums is forthcoming.

Presumably Iowa was chosen because both of our senators will play an important role in drafting health care legislation. Chuck Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and Tom Harkin will be in charge of drafting the parts of the bill concerning disease prevention and public health.

Barack Obama carried all of the five states chosen for these forums, but two of them have Republican governors (Vermont and California). Does the White House have reason to believe that Jim Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger will generally support the president's health care reform agenda?

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