Saturday, March 17, 2007

Politics Verses True Moral Leadership


During a rousing March 13th sermon marking 20 years of the group he founded, ACT UP, 71 year old author and gay rights leader Larry Kramer argued that the current crop of Presidential candidates did not deserve gay votes. Kramer said they, the candidates, would all “sell us down the river given half a chance.”

Singling out Democrat Hillary Clinton, the candidate he predicts to win, Kramer said “the woman does not even know how to make simple declarative statements that involve definite details.”

Kramer couldn’t have planned the next day’s news cycle better himself. An answer Senator Clinton gave ABC News in response to a question about gay people suggested that Larry Kramer owns a mystical political crystal ball.

Clinton was asked whether or not homosexuality was immoral, to which she said “I’ll leave that to others to conclude.”

Showing traits of a real politician, the Senator did avoid declaratives and instead demurred, obviously hoping to avoid controversy from certain constituencies in America’s vast voting block. A few days later, after a great deal of uproar from some of her own core constituents, Clinton did step up and made it clear, that she does not think homosexuality is immoral.

In the first place, Clinton probably wouldn’t have been posed such a heavy handed question had it not been for highly publicized comments by the nation’s top military commander. When asked about gay’s openly serving in the military Joint Chief of Staff Marine General Peter Pace told the “Chicago Tribune” on the Monday before Kramer’s speech that the “United States is not well served by a policy that says it is okay to be immoral in any way.” After Pace went on, likening homosexuality to adultery, he attributed his views in part to his personal upbringing where he said he was taught certain kinds of behavior were indeed, immoral.

Because of his position, General Pace’s comments trickle down into the courts of public opinion on gay people. To some, General Pace’s words further legitimize negative views towards homosexuality. Politically engaged, self serving Right Wing groups can point to his assertions as evidence that morality justifies policy, even if that policy clearly includes discrimination. Pace shares a background similar to that of millions of other Americans. But, his words have the potential to give pause to millions of socially moderate Americans struggling to overcome and move beyond clearly narrow interpretations of morality that lead to prejudices, stereotypes and ultimately the condemnation of entire groups of people’s ways of life.

To delve into the roots and definitions of morality would take hours, but there is no doubt, that over time, American’s views on what is moral and immoral has evolved. Many of these evolutions have resulted in elimination of policy and socially acceptable practices that enslaved, denied, separated and even paid less for the same labor, all which at one time or another, was justified by codes of conduct rooted in society’s interpretation of morality.

But there are countless examples where, with the help of strong and un-compromised leadership, oppressed people have stood up, and in the end, enlightened and affected the American moral compass in ways that have led to numerous examples of a more just and fair society.

That is why it was so disappointing that Hillary didn’t just say “no” the first time when asked whether or not she found homosexuality immoral.

Activist Larry Kramer is right about Senator Hillary Clinton’s chance at becoming the first woman President of the United States of America. Not to long ago, the idea of a woman President, believe it or not, may have been seen as immoral to some. American society subjected African Americans to second class citizenship and justified the slavery of human beings through narrow self serving interpretations of morality. Obviously, interpretations of what is moral have evolved and with that, society and its rules of conduct have changed. But those changes have involved difficult collective self examination and constant struggles to arrive at consensus. It has taken strong and brave leadership to make any headway to the more just and fair society of today, a fundament of true moral values.

One hopes that Larry Kramer is wrong about all the candidates selling gays down the river for political gain, and that in these days of competing interests and attempts at avoiding political minefields, reason and enlightenment, with the help of strong resolute leaders can help steer the nation to a more just society, for all people, including those who happen to be gay.

Although many on the Right point to interpretations of biblical based codes of morality as justification for much of Evagelical America's anti-gay sentiment, there is a passage in the bible that appears to rise above those condemnations and specific restrictions on behaviors deemed wrong by man. It is said to be a golden rule and it instructs God's children to “do unto others, as you would do unto yourself.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Larry Kramer Tells it Like it Is (EDGE STORY)

The Man who founded HIV/AIDS activist group ACT-UP tells it like it is 20 years after that group's founding.
Read the piece at EDGENEWYORK

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Who is Bob Perry and Why Should Voters Care?

What Bob Perry's Politicking Says About Campaign Finance Rules In America

What Bob Perry's Politicking Says About Campaign Finance Rules In America
Those who follow Texas politics might call Houston homebuilder Bob Perry a modern day kingmaker. Although Perry avoids the usual pomp, circumstance and other high profile antics associated with kingmakers past and present, the man who runs ‘Perry Homes’ commands formidable political influence in Lone Star State politics.

On one hand a generous philanthropist, the other, a shrewd highly successful businessman, running a privately held company that reported revenues of around $420 million in 2003. For years, Perry has turned part of that wealth into political influence through hefty campaign contributions at the state level.

Perry’s role as a major political player has been acknowledged, discussed and debated by the watchdogs of Texas state politics for quiet a while now. But, in 2004 a $4.4 million dollar donation to an unregulated, tax exempt, political group known as a federal 527 regulated PAC, caught the eyes of American voters beyond Texas.

Perry wrote and signed the check for one of the most controversial moments in the 2004 Presidential campaign. A highly contentious, controversial yet memorable television ad questioning Democratic Presidential candidate and Vietnam Veteran John Kerry's accounts of combat in Southeast Asia introduced most Americans to Bob Perry.

A number of critics saw the ad as just one more reason for more regulation of the 527s that engaged primarily in negative attacks on candidate’s ethics, morals and character.

But Perry’s direct role in the group 'Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth' thrust Perry along with his efforts and motives for politicking in front of a national political spotlight, a spotlight that has led to greater scrutiny, criticism and a number of questions about his intentions.

Perry’s money has shown up in the current election cycle through even heftier donations to 527 groups and candidates across the nation. Evidence of his influence has shown up in states like Idaho, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

There are a number of observers who think Bob Perry hopes to influence voters away from politicians that don’t share his conservative and strict pro business values, albeit perfectly legal, but controversial behavior under current campaign finance laws.

Back in Texas, Perry’s more recent efforts appear to have paid off with state legislation that directly impact his business interests. And, suggestive evidence shows that Perry may be hoping to export some of that Texas style influence to political contests and subsequent legislation beyond the lone star state's borders.

Andrew Wheat is Research Director for the Austin Think Tank and watchdog organization, Texan’s for Public Justice. He says Bob Perry and President Bush come out of the Texas Political system, a political culture devoid of donation limits, and large donations often appear to be rewarded with influence during the policy making process.

“Year after year, Bob Perry is Texas’s single largest political donor” said Wheat.

According to the Federal Elections Commission, Bob Perry has earned the title of “largest political donor in the United States” for the current election cycle.

Perry has spent around $9 million during this cycle alone, to fund 527 electioneering communication groups responsible for a number of attack ads on Democratic Party candidates. 527 groups with names like Economic Freedom Fund, Americans for Honesty in Issues have all been bankrolled by Perry money.

In addition to media ads, in some states, thousands of homes received phone calls, and a recorded voice claimed survey, but in truth, the calls were what is called a "push poll" ,”robocalls” These, according to analysts, attempt to plant seeds of doubt about a particular candidate , thousands were made, all paid for by Perry through the guise of a 527 group called

Perry also funded The Free Enterprise Fund, a PAC seeking to directly counter the liberal messages of the well-financed and influential

Bob Perry's support for President Bush’s conservative agenda goes without question, which in part explains his efforts during the last Presidential election. Current campaign finance rules allow such participation.

Still, Perry’s specific motivation for attempting to influence the current crop of political contests in the Congressional and Senate elections are not entirely clear.

Ultimately, like many special interests or individuals with business interests, his desire to impact policy is probably related to the Pocketbook, which might offer at least one solid nugget of insight into the Developer's motives.

In Texas, Bob Perry has been a strong supporter of tort reform and legislation that is friendly to the homebuilder industry. And in that state, Perry's campaign donations coupled with aggressive industry lobbying efforts has resulted in Texas tort reform legislation and other changes tangibly favorable to the homebuilder industry.

It is no secret that the homebuilder industry would like to see similar homebuilder/buyer relationship reforms, especially those of a judicial nature, implemented on a national scale. Some fiscal conservatives and business interests argue that civil courts in buyer/builder disputes are biased, tending to rule in favor of the consumer/buyer. They attribute this, in large part, to the fact that jury members can easily identify and sympathize with fellow consumers. Supporters of tort reforms point to “frivolous lawsuits” and high profile outrageous financial awards that over the years have cost business interests millions of dollars.

In Texas, Bob Perry's political money and subsequent influence played a key role in reining what many of the tort reform advocates say was an out of control civil court system in that state.

But critics of the Texas overhauls say those changes have led to results that include a court system less friendly, even hostile, to consumer concerns. In particular some point to a chilling of legal recourse options for homebuyers seeking reparation for allegedly shoddy workmanship in new home purchases.

But is Perry's pumping of of cash into the Iowa, Colorado, Indiana and Tennessee campaigns, among others, an effort to encourage judicial reforms?.

Tennessee’s Democratic Party Chairman says he thinks that Bob Perry’s funding of an especially negative ad attacking Democrat Harold Ford’s Armani suits and expensive cigars is really simple, that it’s a shared Republican desire for power and protections of their interests.

“They (Republicans) need to control Congress to prevent investigations into Republican wrongdoing” said Bob Tuke, the state’s Democratic Party Chair.

In an apparent jab at Democratic Senate Candidate Harold Ford's opponent, Tuke called Republican Bob Corker "just one of theirs."

Coincidentally, Chattanooga's Bob Corker, like Bob Perry, made a great deal of his fortune in the building and real estate industry. And, many of the Tennessee Republican candidate's biggest supporters are members of the real estate and building industry.

The homebuilder industry has expressed enthusiastic support for national judicial reforms. The National Association of Homebuilders said in a 2004 press release that reforming the civil justice system has become, and will continue to be a priority for its interests.

That release went on to argue that trial lawyers, under the guise of consumer advocacy, are subjecting homebuilders to costly and unfair litigation fees.

In Texas, Bob Perry’s company has been no stranger to lawsuits.

According to a 2003 "Dallas Morning News" article, Perry's company has been sued 20 times since 1985. But it was a lawsuit called the Brio case that garnered the most attention. 1700 plaintiffs brought suit against Perry, other developers and a chemical company for their roles in the construction of a massive housing development in suburban Houston. The homes had been built over a toxic waste dump. The plaintiffs eventually settled for $200 million.

Still, some tort reform advocates see the Brio case as another example of what they call an epidemic of frivolous and unfair lawsuits.

Indeed, The American Tort Reform Association says according to its research, the American Judicial system is the most expensive in the industrialized world, costing $246 billion annually.

Often homebuyers sue homebuilders or developers over “lemon” conditions, shoddy construction or allegations of unfulfilled contract obligations. Tort reform advocates argue those disputes can be settled outside of court, and that in the end, large cash rewards to plaintiffs get passed onto consumers, including future home-buyers.

But on the other side, reform critics argue that "limiting" consumer's access to courtroom conducted legal procedures not only takes away an important safety net, in the end, such reforms could lead to a chilling of lawsuits that have exposed business and corporate misconduct, which also trickles down to consumer pockebooks.

Regardless, Bob Perry has had tort reform high on his agenda since the Brio case was resolved in 1992.

Any speculation over Bob Perry's behind the scenes national politicking requires a closer glance at his actions in Texas, and the potential role he and the powerful industry he’s a part of could play in the creation of policy on a national scale.

Janet Ahmed recalls a day in 2003 when she and other homeowner activists were at the Texas legislature in Austin promoting a Home- Lemon Law-bill that would offer protections to homebuyers in that state in a similar fashion that lemon car laws protect new car buyers. On this particular trip to the capital, Ahmed, the President of The Homeowners for Better Building organization says she couldn’t help but notice the large number of women, mostly elderly, that were dutifully shuffling about the State House. When quizzed by Ahmed, a few of the women said they were in town to talk to legislators about all those “"awful frivolous lawsuits” in Texas that were costing consumers so much money. According to Ahmed, the army of elderly women lobbyist were under the impression that everyday consumer pocketbooks were being impacted by a rash of frivolous lawsuits in throughout the State.

But, Ahmed says she thinks the busloads of elderly lobbyist were in fact brought in, fed breakfast as well as slanted information, educated, by Pro court reform coaches connected to the Texas homebuilder industry about the so-called frivolous lawsuits, in what Ahmed believes was a clear case of smoke and mirrors politics meant to promote tort reform specifically favorable to home builders and developers.

Ahmed says the Austin tort reform blitz was organized by the group Texas For Lawsuit Reform (TLR), run by Richard Weekly. Richard Weekly is the brother of another Texas homebuilder/developer, David Weekly. Ahmed and others have also said that the Texas Tort reform efforts were bankrolled by Developer Perry and Weekly's generous financial support for homebuilder friendly legislative, gubernatorial and judicial candidates.

In fact, from 1997 through 2002, The Weekly family, the Perry Family and the TLR organization gave over $5 million to various state races, including judicial races across Texas.

Back before George W. Bush was elected Governor of Texas, the state's homebuilder lobby had won passage of the Residential Construction Liability Act. The RCLA gave builders the “right to repair” a construction defect, before the consumer could take the homebuilder to court.

According some homeowner advocates like Janet Ahmed, the right to repair act quickly became the right to delay leaving homebuyers at the mercy of the homebuilders.

By the time Bob Perry campaign contribution benefactor Governor Rick Perry assumed his office, Legislation was passed placing limits on the amount of money that could be awarded to a homebuyer in a legal dispute, regardless of a builder's determined level of negligence. Later legislation went further, making it more difficult for homebuyers to prove damage or structural flaws may have been caused during the original construction process.

A 2004 "Los Angeles Times" article reported that it was also during that period, builders were starting to add arbitration clauses to their contracts forcing un happy homeowners to take complaints before private arbitrators, rather than a judge and jury. The "Times" noted that in 2003, the state legislature formed a new nine member "Residential Construction Commission" made up of inspectors, affiliated with or members of the homebuilder industry.

Much of the “RCC” legislation language was crafted by John Krugh. John Krugh is the lawyer for (Bob) Perry Homes. Krugh was later appointed by Governor Perry to serve on the RCC panel.

In Texas, Binding Arbitration clauses drove unhappy homebuyers out of the public courts and into an Arbitration system that homebuyer advocates say is lengthy, less regulated since disputes are no longer open for public scrutiny.

“Everybody has to go to binding arbitration, even if your roof is leaking or your wall cracking, and sometimes it takes months to resolve” noted Janet Ahmed who went on to say if the situation is unlivable, and the homebuyer decides to fix the problem themselves, they then forfeit their warranty and future repairs become the sole responsibility of the homeowner.

At Ahmed’s organization’s web site HOBB.ORG, countless horror stories offer details of American Dreams turned nightmare, stories where new homeowners discover defects like toxic mold or shoddy structural construction, tangible threats to what most Americans agree is their most important material investment, a house. HOBB also highlights frustration over new roadblocks in the Texas legal system.

Andrew Wheat has written that groups like Public Citizen, Consumers Union and Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings who've dealt with arbitration say it amounts to a Kangaroo court.

It was Wheat and members of his watchdog organization, Texans for Public Justice who dug and found information suggesting that former House Leader Tom Delay’s Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee might have been engaged in improper and illegal misuse of corporate campaign money. Wheat's tireless efforts, sparked events that led to Delay’s eventual indictment on conspiracy and money laundering charges and a snowball of charges that led to his eventual ouster from Congress.

The largest donor to Tom Delay's PAC "Texans for A Republican Majority was developer Bob Perry.

Wheat, deciphers Perry's Texas political motives with ease, noting his organization has followed Bob Perry’s long money trails for years.

In Texas “He’s motivated by a push to limit damages from homeowner lawsuits”

Perry's tremendous campaign contributions in Texas helped lead to legislation friendly to the homebuilder industry in that state. Some wonder if Perry and the homebuilder industry harbor similar aspirations for other states as well.

Observers of political players like Perry worry that voters aren't paying attention to powerful money interests and how cash given to politicians can turn into influence and tangible policy that affects people's lives.

For example, during a recent interview with West Virginia Public Radio, Jake Bernstein, Editor of “The Texas Observer, said “people don’t’ pay enough attention to who’s paying for campaigns.”

He noted that in the world of Texas Politics, there has not been the sort of open debate over campaign finance reform that there should have been, because so many members of the Texas Republican controlled legislature, the Governor and others including judges have all greatly benefited from money like Bob Perry's.

Theories still swirl beyond Texas over Perry's potential intentions to impact policy in the current political cycle?

Janet Ahmed at HOBB subscribes to the theory of Bob Perry wanting to share his Texas successes and influence with the rest of the country. Ahmed says campaign contributions provided Bob Perry and his allies influence over the leaders who quickly passed legislation she argues is now responsible for regulating the home buying public and not the home builder industry. She and other homeowner advocates point to a powerful lobby that hinders homebuyers from seeking legitimate reparations. Ahmed warns that what happened in Texas is coming to the rest of the country, especially if voters don't pay attention to the motives of behind the scenes political players like Bob Perry.

“If the wealthy Texas based homebuilders are able to limit liability in Texas then they are also going to try and influence the political arena in other states to do the same thing” she said.

Still, most observers outside Texas are cautious about drawing specific, more defined conclusions on Perry's national motives pointing out his strong ideologically conservative allegiance. Like millions of other Americans, Bob Perry's support for Republican candidates could be based in the same principals that anyone else who expresses an affinity for policies and issues that some Republican candidates support.

But, Perry's dalliances in other state's election through his bankrolling of the controversial 527 organizations and subsequent controversial television and radio commercials have warranted greater scrutiny.

Perhaps more importantly, scrutiny of Bob Perry has also raised deeper questions about the way political campaigns are financed in the United States and whether the shadowy unregulated nature of 527s needs more attention from lawmakers.

One concern is fairly certain, without greater campaign finance reform that plug up loopholes, money will continue to flow in to states from sources that in many cases, is not easily traced to source be it a special interest or well moneyed kingmaker. And, there is a prevailing assumption held by much of the electorate, that huge political donations corrupt the integrity of the system and allow well monied interests to buy political access and ultimately, influence over policy, which in many eyes, has become an grudgingly accepted part of the modern political process. In fact, some say the current 527 Pandora's box has opened up the door to antics like Perry's furthering a sort of stealth infiltration into the political ballgame.

Of Perry, one observer in Tennessee noted, there are clear political associations one can assume, and voters can draw their own conclusions.

Of Bob Perry's financing attack ads against Democrat Harrold Ford in Al Gore's home state, the widely known conservative Knoxville columnist Frank Cagle mused in an email note that "a Texas developer probably knows Karl Rove.”


By Cody Lyon
On Election Day November 7th, The Associated Press reported in “The York Dispatch” that Pennsylvania Republican Gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann received $100 thousand from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry during the final two weeks of the state's Governor's campaign.

Swann's opponent, current Democratic Governor Ed Rendell, had vetoed legislation this past March, that would have implemented legal procedures similar to those in Texas that now send homebuyer/homebuilder disputes into Arbitration instead of civil courts.

In March, “The
Philadelphia Inquirer” had reported that Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett thought the vetoed bill was unconstitutional since it set limits on damages for defective workmanship and that it intruded on the state’s Supreme Court.

The Bill had been strongly supported by the
Pennsylvania Builders Association.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Things are heating up at the Department of Justice. First, eight US District Attorneys, once proudly paraded as patriotic bells of goodness, were mysteriously ousted, and now the agency once run by a man named Hoover has admited that it engaged in improprieties that will probably send countless shivers down the spines of Americans who value privacy.

Some might think they’re hearing a collective “told you so” being articulated across the country as those who warned the Patriot Act, would chip away at safety nets of oversight and regulation at the FBI and Department Justice, believe there predictions are playing out. In fact, clear examples, evidence that some of those fears have come to fruition are illustrated in a new report from DOJ Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

In his report, the Inspector General found the FBI misused Patriot Act powers to obtain information about US citizens and residents through “National Security Letters” or NSLs.

NSL’S are administrative subpoenas that allow the FBI to obtain content of transactions, like bank records, phone records or Internet providers.

They are controversial for a number of reasons, more notably, unlike a warrant or subpoena, no approval is necessary from a judge. In fact, an NSL only needs approval from the agent in charge at a local FBI office. Recipients of the letters are instructed to ‘keep quiet’ or risk the wrath of the law.

According to the ACLU, since the USA Patriot Act was authorized in 2001, the FBI has seen a one hundred fold increase to over 30,000 NSL’s each year.

That compares to just 8,500 NSLS in 2000.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero told the "New York Times" "this confirms some of our worst suspicions."

The Inspector General report found the FBI underreported its use of NSL’s to Congress by 20%.

Worries of abuse by FBI agents sans judicial oversight had been one of the biggest fears expressed by civil libertarians opposing the patriot act. Warnings of warrant-less wiretapping, data mining and the misuse of electronic surveillance of citizens across the country ripped at the country’s soul as fears of terrorism competed with fears of big brother.

In prepared remarks to the International Association of Privacy Professionals Privacy Summit posted on the DOJ website, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales noted that Inspector General Fine had acknowledged that NSL’s are a valuable tool in the fight against terror.

But he also acknowledged the FBI did not have “sufficient controls” and that “insufficient guidance and training” was partly to blame, as well as “some confusion in the field about the rules” regarding the misuses spelled out in the report.

Current FBI head, Robert Mueller, called the current lapses “procedural errors” and not malicious intent.

One thing is certain, many of the fears expressed by those who questioned the Patriot Acts far reaching powers, have been confirmed. And, perhaps we as a nation are probably feeling a sense of shared nausea knowing that many of these alleged abuses have, and may continue to occur. What does this sort of revelation say about our shared values as a free republic? Even the ousted US Attorneys must be having second thoughts about their applause of the Patriot Act's free reign, considering, it was a provision in that legislation that allows the Attorney General to bypass a meticulous procedure and easily fire and replace the Attorneys, even though, originally, they were nominated by the President, and confirmed by the full Senate.

A graphic example of the FBI NSL relationship is available in the November 6, 2005 edition of the “Washington Post” with Barton Gilman’s piece on the Windsor Conn., librarians who eventually challenged the FBI’s NSL practices.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Now That Scooter Libby's Name Is "Patsy"


Now that Scooter Libby’s name change to “Patsy” is complete, the perfect opportunity has arisen for Democrats to wake up, take a shot of testosterone, and open a real, binding investigation as to why the United States was led into the quagmire of Iraq.

Mr. Libby’s guilty verdict on four of five counts, including perjury and obstruction of justice is certainly good to see. Hopefully Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson will sleep better at night now that it’s clear Libby was carrying out dirty deeds for higher ups in the White House. But ultimately, Libby’s trial will probably go down in history as a simplistic, un-ambitious but certainly entertaining Washington soap opera. Players from journalists to lower level White House officials stole this show, as the focus of the event changed quicker than the day’s top stories at CNN. Unfortunately, the trial of Scooter Libby was a diversion from where the real digging should have been taking place, which is in the halls of Congress, a dig for real truths about what has proven to be a tragic turn of events, on view for all Americans to see.

The Libby trial was a diversion from the more serious questions that still need to be answered and aired before the public. In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, was the White House angry that its intelligence assessment was being challenged, and if so, why?

Today, Congress, a body with subpoena power, has a wide opening of noble but difficult opportunity. Members on both sides of the aisle could eat humble pie, take a deep breath and dive right into what could prove to be a national epiphany. A complete investigation of the actions by players in the White House, could turn out to be a very valuable lesson for the most important players of all, the American people. But, understandably, a number of those in Congress continue to wallow and whine in a sea of denial, blame and embarrassment tainted by self-serving politics regarding the decision to follow the Pied Piper to Iraq.

As it stands now, come January 2008, Libby will get his pardon, and the current crew in the White House will scurry off into their private financially secure lives, leaving behind the mess they led us to in Iraq. And, the administration also leaves behind, several thousand maimed, blinded, limbless souls, another several thousand dead sons and daughters, who, God only knows, what they may have contributed to this world, had they lived and not been sacrificed in a war that was based on arrogance, manipulated intelligence and fear, sold to a people shattered from an attack carried out by individuals who had absolutely no connection to the country called Iraq.

Scooter Libby’s trial spelled out the obvious, that Vice President Cheney was upset the Bush Administration message of fear was being challenged. Without fear, the White House didn’t have a case for the invasion of Iraq. Congress, afraid of constituent reaction for challenging a popular White House, fell for, or at least went along with the message, as did a large portion of the media, and hence, the public, the rest is history.

But painful as it may be, it would be nothing short of sinful for Congressional leaders, here and now, to not seek out all facts and come clean on the allegedly lie filled road to Iraq. In the same way that individuals learn from their mistakes, so too do governments.

And, Congress has a duty to the men and women of our armed forces to prove that the system of checks and balances has more meaning than a simple sound bite. Sticking one’s head in the sand and carrying on as if looking back and airing the truth stifles progress or corrupts morale, will in the end, only grow the putrid distrust that many Americans now feel about Washington.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Nightmare of Bullying at School

From Edge New York/Boston/Philadelphia/Providence/Provincetown
By the time L.W., who lives in the tony New York suburb of Toms River, N.J., reached high school, taunts of "fag" and "homo" had turned into physical harassment. According to family members’ statements to various news media, the formerly happy young man became depressed, withdrawn and fearful. Eventually he felt forced to transfer out of the city’s 19,000-student public school system entirely.