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What with the Bush White House leaking like a sieve these days, it wasn't difficult to obtain a copy of George W.'s secret birthday message to the venerable historian and former Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Sources say that it was delivered by former Kennedy speech-writer and master toastmaker Ted Sorensen at Schlesinger's 85th birthday party at New York's Century Club on October 15th. The small group of revelers included actress Lauren Bacall, Jean Kennedy Smith, former NY Cultural Commissioner Schuyler Chapin and author Philip Howard.

October 15, 2003

California's opportunist attorney general looks past the allegations against Schwarzenegger.

The recent Senate roll call was a decisive rebuke to our warrior
President and one that will be understood eventually as having pivotal meaning.

In 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson sought a major supplemental appropriation to fund the rapidly expanding US presence in Vietnam, ten members of Congress said "no." The group, all Democrats, included three US Senators--Oregon's Wayne Morse, Alaska's Ernest Gruening and Wisconsin's Gaylord Nelson--and seven members of the House: Californians Phil Burton, George Brown and Don Edwards, New Yorkers Bill Ryan and John Dow, Oregon's Edith Green, and a newly-elected representative from Detroit, Michigan, named John Conyers.

Of the ten, only Conyers remains in the Congress. And, on Friday, he again cast his vote against a presidential demand for the appropriation of money to fund a distant war that critics have begun to refer to as a "quagmire." A fierce critic of the Bush Administration's domestic and international policies -- Conyers likes to say, "We need a regime change in the United States" --the Congressman voted against the Bush Administration's request for an $87 billion supplemental appropriation, most of which will be used to fund the continued occupation of Iraq. "(The Administration is) adding $87 billion on top of the $67 billion already spent, and there is no end in sight," Conyers said, echoing his criticism of appropriations for Vietnam

When he voted against the Iraq appropriation, however, Conyers had a lot more company.

Bus depots are one of many environmental culprits that contribute to health problems in poor communities of color.

Pandering of the highest sort was on display last Friday, as President Bush announced that his Administration will "target" Americans who visit Cuba in violation of US laws. In addition to making it much more difficult to visit the country, Bush has instructed the Department of Homeland Security to step up its inspections of travelers and shipments between Cuba and the US. (This is at a time when the department can't even effectively handle security at US ports.)

Bush's policy has nothing to do with our security, or with democratic reforms in Cuba or with common sense. It is designed to win Cuban-American votes and money in the key electoral states of Florida and New Jersey; it is another piece in the "Bashcroft" assault on Americans' civil liberties. It also reveals the power that a handful of unrepresentative reactionary oligarchs in Miami have to restrict the movements of other American citizens.

As Cuba expert Peter Kornbluh told me, "I see this latest Administration act as a sign of its weakness on Cuba, its inability to do much substantive to mollify the hardline crowd in Miami which has been screaming about the fact that intercepted refugees are being repatriated and the Administration is not encouraging hijackers from Cuba, indeed is sending them back...This Administration doesn't want another Mariel boatlift, so it can't ease up on the illegal migration issue. It has little latitude to say it is toughening its stance except to cut back on travel. For domestic political reasons, of course, the White House is curtailing the one thing the US can do to help Cuba evolve--people-to-people contact."


DEBATING HOWARD DEAN

Bolingbrook, IL

As Stevie Smith once wrote, while impersonating God, "I will forgive you
everything,/But what you have done to my Dogs/I will not forgive." About
Dan Rhodes's novel Timoleon Vieta Come Home<

John Coetzee's new book reads like a suicide note.

Is Zionism a failed ideology? This question will strike many people as
absurd on its face.

Democrats can win the farm and small-town vote--if they pay
serious attention.

The so-called clash of civilizations is not limited to militant Islam
against superpower Christianity, nor to wealthy nations opposed by a
multitude of poor ones.

Making the connections between food, family and the health of the
earth.

Even though the Joseph Wilson affair has convulsed the capital for many
weeks, much of what makes it important is still ignored.

Click here to read more from Katha Pollitt.

So Limbaugh has been hooked on pills,
While Bennett's hooked on slots.
Do all the right-wing morals police
Have copybooks with blots?

It started with Congress, which in 1998 voted to deny federal financial
aid to students with minor drug convictions like marijuana possession.
Now the use of financial aid as an incentive to cu

The Federal Trade Commission has acknowledged that the epidemic of
identity theft claimed almost 10 million victims last year.

Twelve years ago, Harris Wofford made healthcare an issue. Promising to
fight for coverage for all, Wofford scored a surprise victory in a
Pennsylvania Senate race--inspiring speculation that a President named
Bush could be beaten in 1992. Wofford handed the issue to Bill Clinton,
who won the election but lost the war by proposing a plan that offered
more in the way of bureaucracy than a clean break with the existing
for-profit system. Since the Clinton crackup, Democrats have struggled
to reassert the healthcare issue. While the 2004 campaign has yet to
experience a "Wofford moment," Dr. Norman Daniels of the Harvard School
of Public Health says rising numbers of uninsured and underinsured
should move healthcare to the fore as an issue. "The question," he says,
"is whether the new crop of candidates will address it effectively."

Enter Representative Jim McDermott, a physician and the new president of
Americans for Democratic Action, who has taken it on himself to sort
through candidate proposals (www.adaction.org). As McDermott sees it,
the plans of Howard Dean, John Edwards, John Kerry and Dick Gephardt
"are all quite similar--they each combine modest expansions of public
sector programs such as Medicaid and [children's health programs] with
private sector initiatives to encourage employers to provide health
insurance for their employees." While under each of these plans the
government becomes an even greater purchaser of healthcare, McDermott
says that "because most of the new expenditures are through the
fragmented private insurance market, the government will continue to
waste its considerable market power." He's still reviewing Lieberman's
plan, which looks to resemble the others.

In contrast, McDermott notes, Representative Dennis Kucinich offers a
single-payer national healthcare plan based on a bill by Representative
John Conyers, of which McDermott is a co-sponsor. While he sees value in
incremental reforms, McDermott says, "I continue to believe that a
national health care plan, with a government-guaranteed revenue stream
for providers, would be most effective in providing universal coverage
and controlling costs while guaranteeing high quality care." A separate
study of the candidate proposals, done by The Commonwealth Fund
(www.cmwf.org), says Kucinich's plan would cover all Americans, while
those of Lieberman, Dean, Gephardt, Kerry and Edwards would leave 9
million to 19 million uninsured. Single-payer backers Al Sharpton and
Carol Moseley Braun have not offered details; Gen. Wesley Clark has yet
to make his views clear.

While McDermott's analysis will please Kucinich backers, his candidate
choice won't. The Congressman just endorsed Dean. Two reasons, he says.
First, "as governor of Vermont, Dean implemented reforms. He got people
covered. One of the problems the Clintons had is that they were starting
without ever having done it. For them, it was theoretical. Experience
helps you avoid big mistakes." Second, "Electability. Dean isn't my
perfect candidate, but I think he can beat Bush. Beating Bush is the
first step toward healthcare reform."

Shortly after 9/11, the government received an extraordinary gift of
hundreds of files on Al Qaeda, crucial data on the activities of radical
Islamist cells throughout the Middle East and Europ


PRISON FAMILIES

Easthampton, Mass.

Vice President Dick Cheney has a special interest in this week's Congressional debate on the Bush administration's request for $87 billion to maintain the occupation of Iraq and other military adventures abroad. If approved by the House and Senate in its current form, the proposal would allocate roughly $20 billion to reconstruct Iraq, with most of the rest of the money going to cover the costs of the occupation.

Approval of the $87 billion package would be good news for Cheney, who it is now evident, retains ties to his former employer, the energy and construction conglomerate Halliburton. Halliburton is, of course, a prime benecificary of military and reconstruction expenditures in Iraq.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has already awarded Halliburton's engineering and construction arm, Kellogg, Brown & Root, a no-bid contract to restore Iraq's oil industry. Halliburton parlayed an initial $37.5 million contract to put out oil-field fires into a range of responsibilities that has already run up roughly $1 billion in costs. "War is hell, but it has turned into financial heaven for Halliburton," said Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, who with Representative Henry Waxman, D-California, has led the charge to expose details of Halliburton's dealings in Iraq. "This sweetheart, no-bid contract given to Halliburton spikes up by hundreds of millions of dollars each week. It's outrageous."