Monday, July 25, 2005

The Republican (Alternate) Social Security Plan

By Mary Pitt

Ed Feulner of the Heritage Foundation has disributed a news release to newpapers stating that, in the current "DeMint Bill" which is being considered by the House, the Social Security "surplus" would no longer be "spent by Congress" as evidenced by the "special Treasury bonds" which will one day have to be paid back by future workers. What will our enlightened Congress do with the "surpus" as envisioned by this bill? They will spend it!

Not only that, but they will add to the deficit by doing so. According to an Associated Press article, the leading House bill, drafted by Sen. Jim DeMint, (R-SC) and Rep. Jim McCrery, (R-La) to overhaul Social Security would marginally extend the program's solvency, but it would add $851 billion to this nation's debt over 11 years, according to an analysis released Friday by the system's chief actuary. The bill calls for establishing personal accounts for workers under age 55, and stocking them with Treasury bonds equal to the surplus Social Security taxes the government will collect each year through 2016.

This would be just one year before the present fund is expected to run out of money. (No plan is suggested to compensate for that eventuality, since nothing would be added to it during the ensuing years.) The only difference is that the Treasury bonds that will be issued as security for the loan to the General Fund will be earmarked for specific individuals who will "own" their proceeds, which will come from the interest earned by those bonds.

My question is, "Who will pay back the value of the bonds and the accrued interest when those holders retire?" There are two choices. First, they could be paid back by those same "future workers" or, alternatively, the recoupment would come from reductions in the amount of benefits available to the retirees!

No matter who or how it is paid, someone will be paying it and that someone will be our children, either through higher taxes or by supplementing their parents' inadequate Social Security benefits.

Every few years, the cry goes up, "Social Security is broke! There is no money! The only choice is to destroy the system!" And, every few years, the realization dawns that, due to the increase in the cost of living, coupled with steady inflation and rising earnings, the logical answer is merely to increase the cap on the amounts of annual earnings on which funds are withheld. Currently, the "cap" stands at something less than $100,000 per year, a lot of bucks by the standards of many of the small towns in the "Red States", but when you consider that Vice President Cheney has just received an annual RAISE that is almost four times that amount, it seems fairly reasonable. A hundred thousand dollars a year is considered "starting salary" in most of the big corporations and law firms in the cities, yet part of even that salary is immune from Social Security contributions.

The retirement age has already been increased, and that is a touchy subject for those who "burn their bodies" during their working lives. One who spends an entire working lifetime at a desk may continue to be employed into their eighties, if they choose. However, those who do hard, physical work may find their bodies broken down and worn out long before they turn 67. (Guess which category includes our Congressional representatives.) In addition, under this proposal, they do not even tell us what arrangements will be made for widows and dependent children of deceased workers or for the disabled.

In the opinion of this former Republican, the Neocons in Washington need to go back to the playbook of their predecessors and study the chapter on fiscal common sense. Taking money from one pocket and putting it in the other has never been proven to show a profit and it is not likely to do so now. The way Social Security has worked for the last 70 years and the only way it can possibly work now is by carefully tending the income so it will be saved for the purpose for which it is intended.

There truly is no "surplus" and no savings plan for retirement other than what we put in, but we have a right to expect that. Cooking the books and finding creative ways to rob the future of the American working class would smell as bad under any other name. They must "raise the cap", stop spending like drunken sailors, and make plans to pay back the funds that they have "borrowed" for all these years.

Even though there are other very important things for Congress to handle, they must not seek a "quick fix" for this problem. There is time to wait until the world situation is a bit settled down and then to give it the reasoned consideration that will be necessary. Please write or phone your representatives in Washington and tell them, "It ain't broke, so don't fix it!"

We must not allow them to destroy the most efficient and beneficial social program of the last century by hurried judgements and unintended consequences. And that, my friends, is precisely what the administration and the Republican Congress intend to do unless the people of this country wake up and take whatever steps are necessary to stop them.

Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan who is self-employed and active in the political arena. Her concerns are her four-generation family and the continuance of the United States as a democracy with a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Comments and criticism may be addressed to .

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Thank God for the folks at Raw Story. Although the site has only been around since February 2004, it has caught the attention of a myriad of mainstream media and regularly "scoops" them on issues such as the Jeff "Softballs" Gannon fiasco at the White House, the hiliarous cut-and-paste plagerisms of Ann Coulter and -- today -- an alert that Bloomberg News is revealing that Karl Rove and Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis 'Scooter' Libby provided false testimony (as in "lied") to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who is conducting the investigation on the Valerie Plame leak.

Check it out here. Seems that Rove said he didn't know Plame worked for the CIA until a journalist told him -- but then couldn't remember the name of the journalist. Bloomberg sources say that, finally, Rove lost his memory entirely, and "was not sure at all where he first heard the information."

First Bush was gonna take down anyone in his administration who "leaked." Then he decided that it was all right to leak, but if it was proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in a court of law that someone working for him had committed a crime, he or she was outta there for sure. And this time he means it. Really. Unless it turns out to be Turd Blossom...or Scooter...or Uncle Dick...

Also, the Wall Street Journal will release the news tomorrow that the memo Colin Powell carried with him on Air Force One on the Africa trip was not only marked "Top Secret," but had the annotation "FN" beside Valerie Plame's name -- which means "Do not share this name with foreign nationals." Which begs the question: Why was it necessary for Powell to carry that particular memo with him to Africa? Did Bush and Rove request the memo so that they could continue plotting their revenge against Joseph Wilson while en route? Powell's job for 30 years was to carry the water for whatever master was in power at the time, and he was damn good at it. He shoulda stuck with that. Before this is over, Powell himself may be sucked into the slimy vortex.

When a bunch of leakers are backed into a corner, what usually follows is an all-out pissing contest. Rove is soaking wet. He's going down and he knows it. But since he's not the type to take the rap for anybody, even the president, it will be interesting to see who he takes with him...

Sunday, July 17, 2005


By Mary Pitt

Having long been an observer of history and having lived through much too much of it, I have fond memories of the time when the United States was seen as the savior of the world. Whenever despotism reared its ugly head, nations of the world looked to the United States of America to come to their aid, to free them of their oppressors, and to assist them in rebuilding their country. And we did. Our military might was so great that opposition would fold before our unmitigated power. We fought for what was right because we were convinced that it was right and needed no other incentive. Our young men left their farms and factories willingly to vent their indignation against those who would enslave humanity and destroy freedom.

During the long "Cold War", when there was a potential enemy out there who could afford us a significant threat of a fearsome foe, our military strength was the greatest in the history of the world. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its loss of influence over half the world, we determined that it was no longer necessary to maintain a huge standing army. In addition, after the Vietnam debacle, the prospect of a career in the military sort of lost its luster in the minds of young men. The Vietnam "refuseniks" had cast the entire idea of a draft into disrepute, and it was determined that the United States would develop an "all-volunteer army".

This plan did have a few unforeseen difficulties, however. The draft took only single men or those without children to support, and acquiring a number of dependents could earn one a discharge. In the "career army", however, the dependents came into play. Young military people would marry and have many children which required a higher pay scale to maintain them. Soon there were complaints about military dependents being required to apply for food stamps and welfare in order to survive. However, we ploughed on, building a fighting force that was "leaner, meaner, and more effective", according to "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf.

This military machine was adequate to push Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait when he decided that the Kuwaiti princes should be punished for the crime of "angle-drilling" Iraqi oil. It also served well during the United Nations "peace-keeping" excursion in the Baltic nations as they erupted after having gained their independence from the Soviet Union. They also would probably have been more than adequate to pursue and capture Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, had their numbers not been further reduced in order to prepare for the pre-planned invasion of Iraq.

Now we are beginning to learn that, despite both record Federal budgets and Federal deficits, our military might is beginning to fray at the edges. Our Navy is being used as mere support for land-based fighting and troop transport as the ships of the fleet require ever more maintenance due to increasing age; The Coast Guard is attempting to keep our coastlines patrolled against both potential invaders and smugglers with ships that are 35 years old and inadequate in number, and our land-based troops are stretched to the breaking point as they not only fight wars on two fronts but man bases in Germany, Japan, South Korea, and other countries that the average American does not even know exist.

At the same time, much of the rest of the world is starting to rebel against our unwise and arrogant intrusion into other sovereign territories and "areas of influence" in our campaign to control the world's most valuable resource, oil. In this this article by Sorcha Faal, we learn that China, in alliance with some of the small nations where we have established bases in Asia, is demanding that we remove those bases and, thus, our influence and proprietary threats from that area. To that end they have activated 10 combat-ready divisions to surround the the large American bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan and have ordered the Americans to leave. To many, this is seen as handwriting on the wall. Coupled with the threat by China that they are willing and able to resort to nuclear war to prevent our interfering with their planned takeover of Taiwan, it seems that we about to have our bluff called by someone who will be a formidable opponent against our depleted strength.

Should the Neo-Cons, the international oil corporations, and the super-Christian evangelical doomsday hawks continue their aggressive, swaggering, "play-em-like-you-got-em" foreign policies, we may find ourselves faced with a couple of million fresh, well-equipped military forces, ready and willing to play the Bush brand of hardball. China is now the pre-eminent threat to the projected power-grab of those who plan for a World Dominion and we would be well served if we would respect that threat as we did during the Korean War. We were careful then to prevent a confrontation with the "Sleeping Tiger" and we should also consider that eventuality now.

We have reached our present state as the result of some bad judgements by administrations over the past fifty years. It is time for us to withdraw from the many nations in which we now have a presence, adopt a more conciliatory attitude toward other countries, and return to relying on the long-neglected art of diplomacy in order to keep the peace as we allow our "Mighty Eagle" to rest, restore her strength, and live to fight another day. If we continue on the present path, bullying other nations to comply with our wishes under threat of invasion, we may find that our beloved nation is a sitting duck against an alliance that is simply fed up with us.

Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan who is self-employed and active in the political arena. Her concerns are her four-generation family and the continuance of the United States as a democracy with a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". Comments and criticism may be addressed to

Saturday, July 16, 2005


George Bush is big on "sending messages" or reminding folks that there are "consequences" for disagreeing with him, especially about his war on vicious terriers and wicked evildoers.

Joshua Davies had to face those consequences on July 14 when he was walking in the Mexico, New York, Volunteer Fire Department Field Days parade. It wasn't the way he was walking that got Davies into trouble. What got the 23-year-old jerked out of the line, searched, handcuffed and thrown into a sheriff's patrol car were the two signs he was carrying as he walked quietly along -- one an "Impeach Bush" sign and another calling for an end to the war in Iraq.

The Syracuse Post Standard reported that spectators, from kids to old folks, were bewildered, some even asking if it was now against the law to protest in an orderly fashion. But the Oswego County high sheriff, Reuel Todd, said that Davies was arrested because he disrupted the day's activity -- said he just "jumped into the middle of the parade, and wasn't legally "entered" in it. However a Mexico fire station official, too aware of consequences to give his name, said people didn't have to "enter" into the parade, all they had to do was ask permission and then join in.

So then Sheriff Todd remembered he had gotten a "complaint" -- yeah, that was it, he got a complaint -- that Davies was disrupting the parade; therefore, Todd says he had no alternative but to arrest him.

One spectator, Mark Harris, a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, was not pleased to see a sign-carrying Iraq war protester, but remarked that he thought dissent was "what being an American means -- the right to protest, to speak your mind." Harris said what happened to Davies was nothing more than "a signal to the kids that you can't do that here..."

Hey, kids -- get the message? In case you didn't, the Post Standard was kind enough to print Davies' street address for those who have further questions...

Friday, July 15, 2005


Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands. Especially when you are trying vainly to survive in a George Bush world where the government is no longer "for" the people, and the wall that separates the "haves" from the "have-nots" looms as tall and forbidding as anything Israel's Ariel Sharon could dream up.

Two weeks ago, upon realizing there was no longer any social safety net in George Bush's world to break his fall, burdened by $90,000 medical debts he could not pay while continuing to need medical care he could not receive, about to lose his home and face life on cruel, unfriendly streets -- Snellville, Georgia's William Crutchfield hit that separation wall.

Crutchfield, a 60-year-old electrical contractor, greeted 59-year-old postman Earl Lazenby and collected his mail before raising his pistol and shooting Lazenby seven times. Crutchfield then calmly got into his car, drove to the police station and confessed.

Fortunately, Lazenby survived the attack, although Crutchfield asked the judge during his first court appearance if he could plead guilty twice in the hopes of receiving two life sentences. "I'd like to get to where I'm going and start doing my time," he told the judge.

Is Crutchfield crazy? Perhaps, although he appears to be more desperate than mad. He is also possibly the first of many to follow who, when their backs are against the wall, will strike out in what they see as the only way left to avoid the hopelessness of life on the streets in a society that has abandoned them. Like Crutchfield, many will see living in prison as the only alternative to dying on the streets.

In a government that no longer belongs to the people, there will be many more Crutchfields, which begs the question -- is it possible to survive in a George Bush world?

I guess it depends on which side of the separation wall you find yourself, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 14, 2005


By Sheila Samples
Are we rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell?
With no kind of chance for the flag or the liberty bell...
Is the best of the free life behind us now...
Are the good times really over for good?
~~Merle Haggard
"For thou are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with thee. The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers. Thou destroyest those who speak lies; the Lord abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men." ~~ David, Psalms 5:4

On Memorial Day, George W. Bush, the world's most bloodthirsty and deceitful man strutted to the podium at our National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, to once again regurgitate his woefully shallow and inappropriate stump speech -- "Across the globe (sly smile), our military is standing directly between our people and the worst dangers in the world (pause, smirk)...the war on terror has brought great costs (no-nonsense head bob)...two terror regimes are gone forever (narrowed eyes darting nervously back and forth across the crowd), freedom is on the march (leaning forward earnestly), and America is more secure."

Unfazed by plummeting poll numbers at home or spiraling fatality numbers abroad, Bush remarked with shudderingly bad taste that all headstones look alike -- a Texan's crude way of saying, "You seen one skull orchard, you seen 'em all," and announced with devilish arrogance that his mission remains unchanged -- he has the terrorists on the run and he isn't going to stop until he has spread God's gifts of freedom and democracy and liberty and neat stuff like that throughout the world. His will will never be broken. His mission is God's mission; together, he and God will rid the world of evil. On behalf of God, Bush said he 'preciates folks dyin' for the cause. Heck, he even honors 'em.

They applauded him. It was astonishing. They applauded, when they should have been wailing in anguish while collapsing under an unbearable sense of national loss. But no. Grinning like cartoon caricatures, they applauded an in-your-face war criminal -- a great deceiver who is openly intent on destroying everything that is, or ever was, good in their lives. Bush's mission will be over when the good times are over; when they're over for good -- when all that remains is broken. Broken families. Broken bodies. Broken societies. Broken cultures. Broken hearts. Broken world.

Where are the Christians? Where is the revulsion at Bush roaming freely on hallowed ground while belching out lies and deceit that have caused the slaughter of more than 100,000 Iraqi's, 1,942 coalition troops -- 1,752 of them American -- more than American 18,000 wounded or maimed; 10,000 striken with lifelong disease? (No figures are available for the number of Iraqi wounded or maimed ) Where is the raw horror that Christians should feel for a charlaton who boasts that he is on a mission from God -- a mission to rule over a world of hate and lies and fear and death and disease?

You'd think the souls of true Christians would surely shrivel when a man who claims Jesus Christ as his "philosopher" murders hundreds of thousands of innocents, abuses and tortures hundreds, maybe even thousands, more and then raises blood-stained fists -- shakes them in the face of the Almighty, and shouts, "Thou Fool!" You'd think, as a minimum, Christians would remember who in the Bible is known as the "Great Deceiver." You'd think. But alas...

Actually, people who claim to speak to, as well as for, God are everywhere. Most are Republicans, members of the Christian Reconstructionist Movement whose lust for power and obsession with Biblical control extends beyond the wildest fantasies of the most radical evangelical. With flags in one hand and Bibles in the other, they are militant, intolerant, boastful -- eaten up with messianic hubris. They proudly call themselves "people of faith," and are brazenly committed to religion, but their religion is politics and vice versa. They're the God people -- George Bush's voting base. Ironically, followers of Jesus are awakening to find themselves in the midst of religious plenty, yet are literally dying of thirst, much like the lone sailor in Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner" who was surrounded by water but dared not drink. They are discovering it is dangerous for Christian love to be surrounded by religious hate.

I wonder if Americans know just how close to the abyss we really are. I hate to sound yet another terror warning, but if we were in theological Vietnam, we'd be in deep, deep spiritual kimche. Bush is the perfect pawn for the Reconstructionists. He owes them, big time, and he's paying them back at dizzying and destructive speed. Never has a more bloodthirsty and vengeful bully so devoid of reason and sanity been given universal free rein to act out his incorrigible delusions. Bush believes -- has been led to believe -- that he has been commissioned by God to slay all those whom he fantasizes might someday oppose him -- and to justify the slaughter by brandishing the double-edged sword of freedom and liberty.

As early as 1994, Frederick Clarkson, author of "Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Democracy and Theocracy in the United States," warned Americans about the fundie-fascist danger in a critical, indepth article on Christian Reconstructionists. Clarkson said, "...the movement is Very Disturbing in it's ideology. And if it ever came to political power, it would be disasterous for this civilization. Freedom under a Christian Reconstructionist government would be similar to that of Stalin or Hitler."

If they need proof, Bush's "freedom-loving Americans" would do well to listen to the mad ravings of Gary North, one of the more frightening Reconstructionist shepherds, who is determined to place people of faith in every political office, in every schoolroom, every church, and in every societal nook and cranny in order to "gain exclusive control over the American franchise." North, from Tyler, Texas, says, "Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant -- baptism and holy communion -- must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel."

It is not by chance that Reconstructionists are Republicans or that their crusade against Democrats and all things liberal mirrors that of Bush's jihad against the Muslim world. Clarkson cites Reconstructionist theologian David Chilton, who very succinctly describes the movement's mission -- "The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics, in which every area of life is redeemed and placed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the rule of God's law."

Nobody has worked harder nor longer to bring this madness to fruition than Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson. For him, the "rule of God's law" does not extend to Liberals and there's no place for gays to hide in a Robertson world. He believes that homosexuals have nothing better to do than to "come into churches and disrupt church services and throw blood all around and try to give people AIDS and spit in the face of ministers."

And, if you're a Democrat, chances are if Robertson and the Reconstructionists have their way, you're going to get your ass kicked. "The strategy against the American Radical Left should be the same as General Douglas MacArthur employed against the Japanese in the Pacific," Robertson said. "...Bypass their strongholds, then surround them, isolate them, bombard them, then blast the individuals out of their power bunkers with hand-to-hand combat..."

Sound like a plan?

Well, listen up, because it gets better. Christian Reconstructionists soar into a divine frenzy at the mere thought of capital punishment. Those of us who do not see things their way will very quickly turn into collateral damage. Clarkson says Reconstructionists "call for the death penalty for a wide range of crimes in addition to such contemporary capital crimes as rape, kidnapping, and murder. Death is also the punishment for apostasy (abandonment of the faith), heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, "sodomy or homosexuality," incest, striking a parent, incorrigible juvenile delinquency, and, in the case of women, "unchastity before marriage."

Like Bush, who stolidly refuses to accept blame for his actions, the Reconstructionists believe that both men and nations must obey God's laws or God must invoke the death penalty against them. According to North, women who have abortions should be publicly executed, "along with those who advised them to abort their children." But, not to worry. Theocracies, according to theologian Rev. Ray Sutton, are "happy" places to which people flock because "capital punishment is one of the best evangelistic tools of a society."

Clarkson said the Biblically approved methods of execution include burning at the stake, stoning, hanging, and "the sword." So, if you slap your mama or do the "wild thaing" before the wedding, a "person of faith" will be happy to behead you... But North says not to worry. He prefers stoning because, among other things, stones are cheap, plentiful, and convenient. Punishments for non-capital crimes generally involve whipping, restitution in the form of indentured servitude, or slavery. Prisons would likely be only temporary holding tanks, prior to imposition of the actual sentence.

In April, Rev. Jim Wallis of "Sojourners" magazine addresed this problem at a Lewisville rally. Wallis said, "Those on the Religious Right are declaring a religious war to give their version of faith religious supremacy in America. And some members of the Republican Party seem ready almost to declare a Christian theocracy in America. It is time," Wallis said firmly, "to take back both our faith and our Constitution."

I agree, but how do we do this? Many of us are weary of feeling like we're the the last person standing -- sloshing around in a Stepford world of hate and fear and blood -- where every man, woman and child we meet has "9-11" tattooed on their foreheads, and they don't even know it.

What can we tell them that is more horrible than what Christians have already accepted without question -- lies, treason, deceit, abuse and torture, body parts of innocents littering the landscape, the slaughter of their own children, and freedom ebbing away? If we tell them what the Great Deceiver and his Christian Reconstructionist God have in store for them, will they continue to stare at us vacantly while waving their flags? Or, when they see that our foreheads do not proclaim the patriotic "9-11," will they skitter fearfully into the shadows?

We have a choice. We can either take our places in line at the tattoo parlor or we can grab a taser in each hand and start walking cross-country, kicking doors down and jolting folks awake. It may already be too late, but before this vast herd of comatose sheep goes plodding blindly over the edge of the cliff; before they pull the rest of us into the morass with them, we have earned the right to see one last collective shock of recognition -- a final terrified realization that they know the good times are over -- really over for good.

And they will know, at long last, it didn't have to be this way.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Obvious Solution...

George W. Bush gives new meaning to being "out for a spin," especially when he's careening along rain-slick pavement on the presidential bicycle. White House propaganda chief Scott McClellan said Bush was going at "a pretty high speed" when he collided with a policeman guarding the Gleneagles golf resort where the Group of Eight summit is being held.

After skidding to a stop on the pavement, Bush was treated for scrapes on his hands and arms. The presidential bicycle "suffered" damage so severe from hitting the policeman that Bush was forced to return to the hotel in a Secret Service car which had been trailing him. The policeman, according to McClellan, had a "possible" ankle injury. He remains in the hospital.

I hate to keep pointing out the obvious, but after falling off a couch and banging up his face while trying to eat a pretzel three years ago...after tumbling inelegantly off a Segway in Kennebunkport, Maine, two years ago...after soaring over the handlebars of his mountain bike and landing on his face when vacationing at his Crawdad ranch last year -- it would seem the solution to keeping the president, as well as those with whom he comes in contact, out of harm's way would be to equip both him and the presidential bicycle with training wheels.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Take This Dot and Shove It...

Sometimes I wonder if there's anybody out there who can take a dot in each hand and connect them without smashing them into their foreheads.

Bush keeps rapping about how much progress we're making in Iraq. You know, things like bright and shiny new schools, new churches, hospitals, markets...He says Baghdad is the epitome of freedom and democracy since we liberated more than 6 million "folks" in that city.

Well, according to Baghdad mayor Alaa Mahmoud al-Timimi, the city's infrastructure is crumbling around its citizens, most of whom have no water, electricity nor fuel, and have nowhere to hide from the daily relentless bombings and kidnappings. Al-Timimi who, along with the rest of us, has watched US contractors dragging unaccounted-for cash off on pallets and in plastic bags, can't seem to get the money he needs -- pocket change for Halliburton's Baghdad hi-jinks -- from the puppet government to alleviate even a small part of the daily misery Baghdad residents are forced to endure.

The good news Bush wants us to know is that Baghdad produces about 544 million gallons of water per day. What he doesn't want us to know is that amount is still more than 370 million gallons short of the required amount. And, more important -- at least 55 percent of that is lost through leakage in the pipes. And, we don't need to worry our beautiful minds with the sickening fact that the water finally seeping through to the people is mixed with sewage.

Neat, eh? Dot--Dot--Smash!

Iraqis are too weary and abused to join Bush's Freedom Parade as it marches through their city. They get only a few hours of electricity a day, if they're lucky, and fuel is just a fond memory because the gasoline they must import because they have no oil has hit the black market and they can't afford it.

There's no one to help the Iraqis on the street. Their occupiers are predators who are stripping them of their money, their culture, their humanity and their very lives. There's nowhere for them to hide, and anyone foolish enough to attempt to connect the dots, such as Yasser Salihee, an Iraqi journalist and Knight Ridder special correspondent, who was shot in the head last week, is very quickly taken care of. Two other journalists were killed in the same manner a few days later.

Which just proves if there's one group who will tell you "take this dot and shove it," it's the US media, because not a single one of them would be caught dead (no pun intended) raining on George Bush's Freedom Parade.