Thursday, January 31, 2008

Report: U.S. Military not Ready for WMD Strike

Its been six years since 9-11 and we are no closer to being prepared for a terrorist attack. Maybe the $1 trillion wasted on Iraq has something to do with that. It is an unforgivable failure on the part of "our" government:

The U.S. military isn't ready for a catastrophic attack on the country, and National Guard forces don't have the equipment or training they need for the job, a commission charged by Congress reported Thursday.

Even fewer Army National Guard units are combat-ready today than were nearly a year ago when the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves determined that 88 percent of the units were not prepared for the fight, the panel said in its report.

The commission's 400-page report concludes that the nation "does not have sufficient trained, ready forces available" to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons incident," an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk."

Clinton Remained Silent As Wal-Mart Fought Unions

Barack Obama alluded to Hillary's Walmart ties in a recent debate. Many Americans, tragically, believe Ms.Clinton is a friend of working people. She is not. She refuses to criticize her husband's bringing us NAFTA:

In six years as a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors, between 1986 and 1992, Hillary Clinton remained silent as the world's largest retailer waged a major campaign against labor unions seeking to represent store workers.

Clinton has been endorsed for president by more than a dozen unions, according to her campaign Web site, which omits any reference to her role at Wal-Mart in its detailed biography of her.

Wal-Mart's anti-union efforts were headed by one of Clinton's fellow board members, John Tate, a Wal-Mart executive vice president who also served on the board with Clinton for four of her six years.

Tate was fond of repeating, as he did at a managers meeting in 2004 after his retirement, what he said was his favorite phrase, "Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living."

[...]An ABC News analysis of the videotapes of at least four stockholder meetings where Clinton appeared shows she never once rose to defend the role of American labor unions.

The tapes, broadcast this morning on "Good Morning America," were provided to ABC News from the archives of Flagler Productions, a Lenexa, Kan., company hired by Wal-Mart to record its meetings and events.

A former board member told that he had no recollection of Clinton defending unions during more than 20 board meetings held in private.

Lobbyists Find More Ways to Bond with Lawmakers

The best government money can buy. And lobbyists don't represent us. It is why We The People are not charge, as it should be:

Most of the thousands of lobbyists work across the city, in and around K Street. In the past decade, 18 lobbying firms, corporations and labor unions have purchased town houses or leased office space near the Capitol, joining more than a dozen others that had operated there for years, according to real estate records.

Despite a strict new ban on gifts to lawmakers, lobbyists routinely use these prime locations to legally wine and dine members of Congress while helping them to raise money, campaign records show. The lawmakers get a venue that is often free or low-cost, a short jaunt from the Capitol. The lobbyists get precious uninterrupted moments with lawmakers — the sort of money-fueled proximity the new lobbying law was designed to curtail. The public seldom learns what happens there because the law doesn't always require fundraising details to be reported.

"It's a nice added bonus to say, 'Hey, we're going to host it at our house,'" said Jeffrey Shoaf, chief lobbyist of the Associated General Contractors of America, which opened its doors for nine fundraisers — and others that he says went undisclosed — last year at its redbrick town house two blocks from the Capitol.

The receptions, which can range from small breakfast meetings of five to large catered parties of 100 or so, are only a sliver of the fundraising universe.

Even so, they illustrate that lawmakers still are allowed to accept valuable favors from special interests willing to pay for access, despite promises by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers that the restrictions on gifts and trips would "break the link between lobbyists and legislators."

The role of lobbyists in fundraisers wasn't addressed in the lobbying law signed last September. As long as they don't exceed the federal cap on campaign donations — $10,000 per two-year election cycle for political action committees — lobbyists can underwrite an event for a favored senator or representative at a resort, on a golf trip or at their town house.

USA TODAY counted more than 400 congressional fundraisers at lobbyist-, corporate- or labor-owned Capitol Hill facilities last year through November, benefiting 214 lawmakers — 40% of Congress. Those numbers, based on invitations, interviews and Federal Election Commission records, capture only part of the total because many events go undisclosed. The figures don't include fundraisers hosted by lobbyists at their K Street offices, which are subject to the same rules but don't offer similarly convenient geography. USA TODAY also found examples of lawmakers helping the interests of the lobbyists who hosted them.