Saturday, November 05, 2005

GAO Report Supports Premise That Ohio Electoral Votes Were Stolen

Rockford's Newspaper Rock River Times | rockford illinois news information:
"Some of the GAO’s findings are: 1. Some electronic voting machines “did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected.” In short, the machines; provided a way to manipulate the outcome of the election. In Ohio, more than 800,000 votes were cast on electronic voting machines, some registered seven times Bush’s official margin of victory.

2: the report further stated that: “it was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works, so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate.” Very many sworn statements and affidavits claim that did happen in Ohio in 2004.

Next, the report says, “Vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level.” The GAO found that falsifying election results without leaving evidence of doing so by using altered memory cards could easily be done.

The GAO additionally found that access to the voting network was very easy to compromise because not all electronic voting systems had supervisory functions protected by password. That meant access to one machine gave access to the whole network. That critical finding showed that rigging the election did not take a “widespread conspiracy” but simply the cooperation of a small number of operators with the power to tap into the networked machines. They could thus alter the vote totals at will. It therefore was no big task for a single programmer to flip vote numbers to give Bush the 118,775 votes."
This has the be the biggest under-reported story of the century. I remember some reports of "irregularities" in the days following the election, but nothing seemed to come of it. Looks like the GAO doesn't forget. God bless 'em.

No Wonder They Didn't Want A Recount

- toledoblade.com -:
"COLUMBUS - The Ohio business leaders and lobbyists who steered at least $4.1 million to President Bush's re-election campaign last year collected more than $1.2 billion in taxpayer dollars for their companies and clients, a Blade investigation shows.

The fund-raisers who helped deliver the battleground state - and ultimately the 2004 presidential election - also received choice appointments from state and federal officials. The posts included an ambassadorship to Germany and a seat on the Ohio State University board of trustees."
That's quite a return on investment. Better than they could have done in the market. It's good to own a piece of the Bush. Too good.

Washington Post Examines Former FDA Head Crawford's Resignation, Subsequent Investigation

Washington Post Examines Former FDA Head Crawford's Resignation, Subsequent Investigation:
"Crawford or his wife held shares in several companies whose business is regulated by FDA as late as 2004, when Crawford was FDA's acting commissioner, according to financial disclosure forms obtained by the Wall Street Journal. According to the Journal, Crawford began work at FDA in 2002 with stock in many companies, including Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. He told ethics officials that in 2002 he sold those stocks, along with stock he held in Kimberly-Clark, which makes medical devices; PepsiCo; and Sysco. Crawford reported the sale in 2002 of his stock in Teleflex, which also makes medical devices, though 'later forms show that he or his wife continued to own some shares,' the Journal reports."

Missed this one before. Has anyone kept count of how many criminal or ethical investigations are going on against this administration? It seems like they just keep on coming. Should we have a pool going on the final total number?

Yet Another Indictment Of Yet Another Crony Coming?

Spending Inquiry for Top Official on Broadcasting - New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 - Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the head of the federal agency that oversees most government broadcasts to foreign countries, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, is the subject of an inquiry into accusations of misuse of federal money and the use of phantom or unqualified employees, officials involved in that examination said on Friday.

Mr. Tomlinson was ousted from the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Thursday after its inspector general concluded an investigation that was critical of him. That examination looked at his efforts as chairman of the corporation to seek more conservative programs on public radio and television.

[...]

The board has been troubled lately over deep internal divisions and criticism of its Middle East broadcasts. Members of the Arab news media have said its broadcasts are American propaganda.

People involved in the inquiry said that investigators had already interviewed a significant number of officials at the agency and that, if the accusations were substantiated, they could involve criminal violations.
And keep your filthy hands off my NPR and PBC!

Better Late Than Never?!

My Way News:
"'What the Democrats are saying essentially is, enough is enough. It's time to determine the facts and to hold the president accountable for the miscalculations, misjudgments and misrepresentations,' said Steve McMahon, a Democratic consultant.

[...]

In coming weeks, House Democrats, led by Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, plan to force the House to consider a Senate-approved ban on the "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of prisoners in U.S. custody. Members of both parties expect the House to side with the Senate, despite a White House veto threat.

A former Marine who served in Vietnam, Murtha rarely makes such public moves. But when the conservative Democrat speaks on military issues, colleagues tend to listen.

Murtha said Thursday that he has grown so concerned about some of the president's war policies that he plans a speech laying out his recommendations for the war before the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections in Iraq.

'This war is destroying our ability to meet the threat down the road,' Murtha said."

DeLay Judge Stays -- for now?

My Way News:
"On Friday, Jefferson sent a letter to Earle and to DeLay's lawyer Dick DeGuerin denying Earle's motion that Jefferson recuse himself. The chief justice said the responsibility for assigning judges ends with his office and that his appointment of Priest stands.

Earle had no immediate comment Friday.

Priest, 64, does not appear to be connected to high-profile party candidates or causes. Priest gave $450 to three Democratic members of the Texas House in 2004, campaign records show. He said that's all he has contributed.

'I'm cheap,' Priest told the San Antonio Express-News."

Stating The Obvious Isn't Easy In Washington

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney's office triggered abuse of Iraqi prisoners with word that filtered down to soldiers in the field that interrogations were not providing needed intelligence, a former senior State Department official has alleged.

Lawrence Wilkerson, who was Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff during President Bush's first term, said Thursday, 'It was clear to me there that there was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of defense down to the commanders in the field.'"

For The Rich To Get Richer, The Poor Must Get Screwed

Senate Passes Plan to Cut $35 Billion From Deficit:
"The focus now shifts to the House, where the Budget Committee voted 21 to 16 yesterday to approve a more extensive bill saving nearly $54 billion through 2010 with cuts to Medicaid, food stamps, student loans, agriculture subsidies and child support enforcement. The House measure would allow states to impose premiums and co-payments on poor Medicaid recipients for the first time.

With so many controversial provisions, the House measure is forcing Republican leaders to scramble for support in what could be the most difficult vote of the year. Some Republican moderates are balking at cuts to anti-poverty programs, especially in light of a $70 billion tax cut that could come to a vote soon after the budget bill, more than wiping out the first bill's deficit reduction."
The really disgusting part is how they use tragedies like Katrina as an excuse to cut anti-povery programs. Yeah, that makes sense.

Daily Kos: Shameless. Absolutely Shameless.

Daily Kos: Shameless. Absolutely Shameless.:
"I'll never understand the Republican fascination with screwing the poor at every opportunity. Countless numbers of American middle class families are one month, one week, or one very bad day away from being poor, indebted, or homeless, or at the very least not having enough food for the kids during one particular week. While my Catholic family was indeed, sigh, unalterably Republican, watching the Reagan years it didn't take much to demonstrate just how much Republicans loathed the middle class -- the average folks who had paychecks, not trusts, and whose most sizable long-term investments consisted of the savings account at their bank, not stock market portfolios.

And I'm not talking 'ignored', or 'were indifferent to', but absolute hatred. The idea that some poor person, somewhere, might be sucking a dime too many out of the system is largely used as the reason to carve, gut and bury whatever safety-net welfare programs the party sets its eyes on. Rather screw a thousand people, than to have the children of some undeserving 'welfare queen' get milk today.

But God Help Us All if we don't pass, in the middle of all of this apparently urgent pain, yet another business-humping, morality-punching tax cut for the folks with greens fees to pay."

SISMI Was Gooey With Yello Cake

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 30, 2005 - November 05, 2005 Archives:
"Italian intelligence officials and parliamentarians put on a dog and pony show yesterday in Rome claiming that the Italian intelligence agency SISMI had no connection to the forgeries and did not pass on any of the bogus information contained in them to any other countries, including the United States.

But that's simply not true. Landay confirms what we first reported more than a year ago: that in late 2001 and early 2002 Italian intelligence sent reports to the US alleging that Niger was selling yellowcake uranium to Iraq. Those reports were based on the notorious forged documents, in some cases they were text transcriptions of the documents."
From the article:
One of the reports passed by SISMI contained language that turned out to have been lifted verbatim from crudely forged documents that outlined the purported uranium-ore deal, the U.S. officials said.

"SISMI was involved in this; there is no doubt," said a U.S. intelligence official who's closely followed the matter.

The United States obtained complete copies of the forgeries in October 2003; the International Atomic Energy Agency had determined that the documents were fakes in March 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, and the White House later conceded that Bush shouldn't have made the allegation.

Friday, November 04, 2005

SCOTUS as political institution?

Ideology Serves as a Wild Card in Senate Debate on Court Pick - New York Times:
"'It presents the issue in a very crystalline form,' said Richard D. Friedman, a law professor at the University of Michigan. 'Alito is superb on all the measures of qualifications. All that's left to oppose him on is ideology.'

Professor Friedman argues that ideology should not have a dominant place in the Senate consideration.

'The aggressively ideological opposition distorts the confirmation process,' he said. 'Treating it as a political matter may encourage a view of the court as nothing more than another political institution.'"
After the "selection" of 2000, I'm not inclined to view it as much else.

Californians Consider Abortion Limits - New York Times

Californians Consider Abortion Limits - New York Times:
"If it passes, California would become the 35th state with an abortion law requiring either parental notification or consent. But given its size and ''blue'' state sensibilities, national abortion rights advocates are concerned.

''I hope it's not a bellwether and I hope it doesn't pass,'' said Dr. Wendy Chavkin, chairwoman of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, which dispatched doctors to debates and public meetings as part of the ''No on 73'' campaign."
Damn! Can't they even wait for the ink to dry on Alito's confirmation?

Can DeLay Get A Fair Trial?

My Way News:
"Republican Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub had been named earlier Thursday to select a new presiding judge after Perkins was removed, but he withdrew at the request of Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle because of his political contributions to GOP candidates.

Schraub then asked state Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson to name the new judge and Jefferson selected Priest.

But at about the same time, the district attorney asked that Jefferson, too, to withdraw from the process. Earle's office had no immediate comment Friday on the selection of Priest or what the next step would be.

Jefferson's 2002 campaign treasurer, Bill Ceverha, was treasurer of DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, according to state documents examined by The Associated Press.

The PAC is a co-defendant in DeLay's case and Ceverha was a defendant this spring in a civil trial brought by Democrats who lost state legislative races to Republicans in 2002.

Jefferson also was elected to his seat with the help of a $25,000 donation from the Republican National State Elections Committee, a group at the heart of the money laundering charge against DeLay.

He also received $2,000 from a DeLay-run PAC whose executive director is a co-defendant."
I mean, can Texas come up with anybody not tainted by the scandal being tried? I know it's a big place, but it seems like DeLay spread the corruption around in a really big way.

At Least Nero Played The Fiddle

My Way News:
"The e-mails show that Brown, who had been planning to step down from his post when the storm hit, was preoccupied with his image on television even as one of the first FEMA officials to arrive in New Orleans, Marty Bahamonde, was reporting a crisis situation of increasing chaos to FEMA officials.

'My eyes must certainly be deceiving me. You look fabulous - and I'm not talking the makeup,' writes Cindy Taylor, FEMA's deputy director of public affairs to Brown on 7:10 a.m. local time on Aug. 29.

'I got it at Nordstroms,' Brown writes back. 'Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?' An hour later, Brown adds: 'If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god.'

A week later, Brown's aide, Sharon Worthy, reminds him to pay heed to his image on TV. 'In this crises and on TV you just need to look more hardworking ... ROLL UP THE SLEEVES!' Worthy wrote, noting that even President Bush 'rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow.'"


You can't make this kind of stuff up. It just boggles the mind.

DeLay Asked Lobbyist to Raise Money Through Charity - New York Times

DeLay Asked Lobbyist to Raise Money Through Charity - New York Times:
"The electronic messages from 2002, which refer to 'Tom' and 'Tom's requests,' appear to be the clearest evidence to date of an effort by Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican, to pressure Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying partners to raise money for him. The e-mail messages do not specify why Mr. DeLay wanted the money, how it was to be used or why he would want money raised through the auspices of a private charity.

'Did you get the message from the guys that Tom wants us to raise some bucks from Capital Athletic Foundation?' Mr. Abramoff asked a colleague in a message on June 6, 2002, referring to the charity. 'I have six clients in for $25K. I recommend we hit everyone who cares about Tom's requests. I have another few to hit still.'

The e-mail was addressed to Tony Rudy, who had been Mr. DeLay's chief of staff in the House before joining Mr. Abramoff's lobbying firm. Mr. Abramoff said it would be good 'if we can do $200K' for Mr. DeLay.

[...]

The e-mail traffic was released this week by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which has conducted a yearlong investigation into whether Mr. Abramoff and a business partner, Michael Scanlon, Mr. DeLay's former House press secretary, defrauded Indian tribe clients and their gambling operations out of tens of millions of dollars. There was no immediate comment on the e-mail from spokesmen for Mr. Abramoff or Mr. DeLay, who has stepped down as House majority leader because of an unrelated criminal indictment in his home state.

The Justice Department signaled last month that it was investigating the propriety of Mr. DeLay's ties to Mr. Abramoff, including trips that the lobbyist organized for Mr. DeLay and his wife. Mr. Abramoff is under indictment in a separate federal fraud investigation in Florida."


Looks like DeLay will be spending quite a lot of time in courtrooms, both in Texas and Washington, D.C. Couldn't happen to a nicer fellow. No, wait, it could.

Europe Looking Into Report of C.I.A. Jails - New York Times

Europe Looking Into Report of C.I.A. Jails - New York Times:
"BERLIN, Nov. 3 - The European Union said Thursday that it would 'seek more information' on allegations that a member country and a would-be member might have been sites of secret American jails for suspected members of Al Qaeda. The European Commission, the organization's executive arm, stopped short of starting a formal investigation.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the C.I.A. had been holding its 'most important Al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe.' The report, attributed to American and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement, did not name the countries."


Of course, that conspiracy theory (see previous post below) would have to be wilder than the truth, which seems beyond the pall as it is.

The Smell Of Another "Axis Of Evil"

Source of Forged Niger-Iraq Uranium Documents Identified - New York Times:
"ROME, Nov. 3 - Italy's spymaster identified an Italian occasional spy named Rocco Martino on Thursday as the disseminator of forged documents that described efforts by Iraq to buy uranium ore from Niger for a nuclear weapons program, three lawmakers said Thursday.

[...]

The information about Iraq's desire to acquire the ore, known as yellowcake, was used by the Bush administration to help justify the invasion of Iraq, notably by President Bush in his State of the Union address in January 2003. But the information was later revealed to have been based on forgeries.

The documents were the basis for sending a former diplomat, Joseph C. Wilson IV, on a fact-finding mission to Niger that eventually exploded into an inquiry that led to the indictment and resignation last week of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby.

[...]

There had long been doubts within the United States intelligence community about the authenticity of the yellowcake documents, and references to it had been deleted from other presentations given at the time.

[...]

Senator Brutti told reporters on Thursday that indeed Sismi had provided information about Iraq's desire to acquire uranium from Niger as early as the 1990's, but that it had never said the information was credible.

Thursday's hearing followed a three-part series in La Repubblica, which said General Pollari had knowingly provided the United States and Britain with forged documents. The newspaper, a staunch opponent of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, also reported that General Pollari had acted at the behest of Mr. Berlusconi, who was said to be eager to help President Bush in the search for weapons in Iraq. "


There were also reports that Martino was actually working for French intelligence, but why would the French want to send the U.S. evidence supporting the case for invading Iraq when they were supposedly, and very publicly, opposed to the war? The Italians seem to be trying to cover their collective asses.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd be looking for evidence of said conspiracy among the leadership of, what, at least four different western nations? Naaahhh! Too weird and crazy! But then again, things are real spooky here.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Hooray For OH

News from The Associated Press:
"COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Still angry a year later, John Kerry supporters across the country are donating money to an effort to overhaul elections in the state they blame for costing them the White House.

A New Mexico retiree who became incensed after reading last fall about pre-election directives by Ohio's secretary of state gave $100. A substance-abuse counselor in Maine who suspects Ohio-made electronic voting machines were tampered with to give President Bush the victory contributed $25.

'There were so many questions and allegations about voter fraud, vote machine tampering, that it really frightened me,' said Elizabeth Schrader, 50, of Old Hickory, Tenn. 'Serious voter reform is necessary in all 50 states.'"


I just wish there had been more done at the time. I'll never forget how it felt when they conceded. It never seemed right.

Wow.

News from The Associated Press:
"RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has suggested that those who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television.

Goodman, appearing Wednesday on the 'Nevada Newsmakers' television show, said, 'In the old days in France, they had beheading of people who commit heinous crimes."


Yeah, and then we'll make all the women wear veils, and then....

"'I'm dead serious,' said Goodman, adding, 'Some of these (children) don't learn. You have got to teach them a lesson, and this is coming from a criminal defense lawyer.'

'They would get a trial first,' he added."


Oh, well, why didn't you say so? I assume it would be a fair one....

Whoa!

World Crises | Reuters.com: "'An influenza pandemic has the potential to cause more death and illness than any other public health threat,' the Health and Human Services department says in its new flu plan, posted on the Internet at http://pandemicflu.gov.

'If a pandemic influenza virus with similar virulence to the 1918 strain emerged today, in the absence of intervention, it is estimated that 1.9 million Americans could die and almost 10 million could be hospitalized over the course of the pandemic, which may evolve over a year or more.'

Why paint such a frightening scenario?

'We felt that it would be important that we have a worst-case scenario to make sure our planning efforts were measured against that,' said Dr. Bruce Gellin, a vaccine expert who is heading up HHS's pandemic influenza planning.

[...]

People should prepare for the emotional impact of 'mass casualties and deaths among children' and well as 'economic collapse or acute shortages of food, water, electricity, or other essential services,' it says."

In the back of my mind, I keep seeing such a scenario as a way to transform the U.S. into something like the image in A Handmaid's Tale, but our fearless leaders wouldn't do something like that, would they?

Salon.com News | Abramoff-Scanlon School of Sleaze

Salon.com News | Abramoff-Scanlon School of Sleaze:
"Consider one memo highlighted in a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday that Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Tx., sent the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana to describe his strategy for protecting the tribe's gambling business. In plain terms, Scanlon confessed the source code of recent Republican electoral victories: target religious conservatives, distract everyone else, and then railroad through complex initiatives.

'The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees,' Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. 'Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them.'"


I can't add to this. These guys take the cake.

Well, Oh Yeah!?

My Way News:
"AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Two days after U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay won a fight to get a new judge in his case, prosecutors on Thursday succeeded in ousting the Republican jurist responsible for selecting the new judge.

Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub recused himself after District Attorney Ronnie Earle filed a motion asking for his removal from the case.

Schraub said he will ask the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court name a judge to preside over DeLay's conspiracy and money laundering trial.

State district Judge Bob Perkins, a Democrat, was removed from DeLay's case Tuesday after DeLay's legal team cast doubt on Perkins' ability to judge the case fairly because of more than $5,000 in contributions he's made to Democrats."


Tit for tat, I suppose. At least this helps make the decision of who does finally preside be determined by a full court and not just one judge. Schraub couldn't argue since he'd just ruled similarly for the other side. Wonder if all this will have an effect on some of the other trials concerning high-ranking officials?

Iraq Asks Return of Some Officers of Hussein Army - New York Times

Iraq Asks Return of Some Officers of Hussein Army - New York Times:
"BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 2 - The Iraqi government called Wednesday for the return of junior officers from the disbanded army of Saddam Hussein, openly reversing an American directive issued in 2003.

The move is aimed at draining the insurgency of recruits and bolstering the Iraqi security forces, Iraqi officials said."


A new take on "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." If you can't beat them, let them join?

Another Money-Laundering Scheme -- this time for Bush

- toledoblade.com -:
"When Tom Noe invited some people to a fund-raiser for President Bush with the promise of reimbursement, some were suspicious but took his money anyway, their attorney said yesterday.

“Some thought it smelled a little bit,” Bill Connelly said yesterday. “But they didn’t inquire further.”

[...]

According to prosecutors, Mr. Noe gave most of the conduits less than $2,000 and each made up the difference with his or her own money. Mr. Connelly said his clients thought they were paying for the actual cost of the luncheon itself.

An estimated 700 people attended the fund-raiser, which generated $1.4 million for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

By the end of the campaign, Mr. Noe had been recognized as a “Pioneer” for the Bush-Cheney campaign, raising at least $100,000. Mr. Connelly said his clients were unaware of Mr. Noe’s fund-raising goal. “They were absolutely flabbergasted to learn it was part of his effort to be a Pioneer,” he said.

Mr. Noe told Mr. Connelly’s clients he would reimburse them after the fund-raiser. But prosecutors say all of the checks to the “conduits” were written in the week before the event. It is unclear if they were cashed before the event.

Although his clients have told him they thought they were being “comped” — or given complimentary tickets, Mr. Connelly said that “in hindsight” his clients realize that accepting the money was wrong."


Just another chapter in the Republican saga, Culture of Corruption.

The Blog | Lawrence O'Donnell: The One Very Good Reason Karl Rove Might Be Indicted | The Huffington Post

The Blog | Lawrence O'Donnell: The One Very Good Reason Karl Rove Might Be Indicted | The Huffington Post:
"Judge Tatel’s opinion has eight blank pages in the middle of it where he discusses the secret information the prosecutor has supplied only to the judges to convince them that the testimony he is demanding is worth sending reporters to jail to get. The gravity of the suspected crime is presumably very well developed in those redacted pages. Later, Tatel refers to “[h]aving carefully scrutinized [the prosecutor’s] voluminous classified filings.”

Some of us have theorized that the prosecutor may have given up the leak case in favor of a perjury case, but Tatel still refers to it simply as a case “which involves the alleged exposure of a covert agent.” Tatel wrote a 41-page opinion in which he seemed eager to make new law -- a federal reporters’ shield law -- but in the end, he couldn’t bring himself to do it in this particular case. In his final paragraph, he says he “might have” let Cooper and Miller off the hook “[w]ere the leak at issue in this case less harmful to national security.”

[...]

All the judges who have seen the prosecutor’s secret evidence firmly believe he is pursuing a very serious crime, and they have done everything they can to help him get an indictment."


This is an older article, but I'm posting it here for my friend, Paul, who apparently missed it.

CBS News | Poll: More Bad News For Bush | November 2, 2005 22:00:07

CBS News | Poll: More Bad News For Bush | November 2, 2005 22:00:07:
"(CBS) Most Americans believe someone in the Bush Administration did leak Valerie Plame's name to reporters – even though Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald indicted no one for doing that. Half of the public describes the matter as something of great importance to the country, and this poll finds low assessments of both the President and the Vice President – with the President's overall approval rating dropping again to its lowest point ever. "

CBS News | Bush's Job Approval Hits New Low | November 3, 2005 09:00:06

CBS News | Bush's Job Approval Hits New Low | November 3, 2005 09:00:06:
"President Bush's job approval has reached the lowest level yet. Only 35 percent approve of the job he's doing.

PRESIDENT BUSH'S JOB APPROVAL
Approve
35%
Disapprove
57%

Congress is rated even lower. Only 34 percent approve of its work.

Vice President Cheney has never been as popular as the president, but his favorable rating is down nine points this year to just 19 percent. "

Not Guilty By Reason Of Cronyism

My Way News:
"Jeffress is from the firm Baker Botts, where Bush family friend and former Secretary of State James A. Baker is a senior partner. Jeffress has won acquittals for public officials accused of extortion, perjury, money laundering, and vote-buying, his firm's Web site says.

Libby was charged with lying to investigators and the grand jury about leaking to reporters the CIA identity of the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson. Valerie Plame's name was published by conservative columnist Robert Novak after Wilson accused the administration of twisting intelligence in the run-up to the war to exaggerate the Iraqi threat from weapons of mass destruction.

[...]

The judge handling Libby's case is an appointee of three Republican presidents.

Early in his career, Walton was a highly respected trial lawyer for the U.S. attorney's office in the District of Columbia. When President Reagan appointed him to Superior Court in Washington, D.C., Walton became known as a no-nonsense judge who was tough on sentencing street criminals. He served as the senior White House adviser for crime in the administration of President Bush's father before returning to Superior Court. In 2001, the current president nominated Walton to the U.S. District Court."


So they don't have to use the tactics of DeLay's lawyers to find the right judge. They already have him.

DeLay's Staff Tried To Help Abramoff

My Way News: "WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Tom DeLay's staff tried to help lobbyist Jack Abramoff win access to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, an effort that succeeded after Abramoff's Indian tribe clients began funneling a quarter-million dollars to an environmental group founded by Norton.

'Do you think you could call that friend and set up a meeting,' then-DeLay staffer Tony Rudy wrote to fellow House aide Thomas Pyle in a Dec. 29, 2000, e-mail titled 'Gale Norton-Interior Secretary.' President Bush had nominated Norton to the post the day before.

[...]

Abramoff's clients were trying to stop a rival Indian tribe from winning Interior Department approval to build a casino.

DeLay, who has temporarily stepped aside as House majority leader because of criminal charges in Texas, eventually signed a letter with other GOP House leaders to Norton on behalf of Abramoff's clients, records show."

It's all so cozy, you know. Nominated to the post for 24 hours and open for business as usual.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Debate rages on use of cervical cancer vaccine / While almost 100% effective, some contend use condones teen sex

Debate rages on use of cervical cancer vaccine / While almost 100% effective, some contend use condones teen sex:
"'Some people have raised the issue of whether this vaccine may be sending an overall message to teen-agers that, 'We expect you to be sexually active,' ' said Reginald Finger, a doctor trained in public health who served as a medical analyst for Focus on the Family before being appointed to the ACIP in 2003.

'There are people who sense that it could cause people to feel like sexual behaviors are safer if they are vaccinated and may lead to more sexual behavior because they feel safe,' said Finger, emphasizing he does not endorse that position and is withholding judgment until the issue comes before the vaccine policy panel for a formal recommendation."


This is why separation of church and state is so important. This is just another chapter in the story that includes blocking of the "Plan B" pill being made available to rape victims (How does it hurt them? It's not like they wanted to have sex in the first place.), making delivery of foreign aid contingent on lowering availability of choice in parental planning, and teaching scientific method in schools. When conservatives say they want smaller government, remember that they mean limiting government involvement when it comes to big business getting away with just about anything while at the same time assuring that government gets over-involved with personal privacy issues and limiting freedom of choice, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, etc.

When in history has promoting abstinence ever succeeded in limiting the amount of sexual activity in the human race? When has it served to eliminate transmission of SDT's or unwanted pregnancies?

Overpopulation leads to resource depletion leads to poverty leads to war. That is the reality taught by history, and no vaccine or moral presumption is going to change that.

Alan Kaye, executive director of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, likened the vaccine to wearing a seat belt.

"Just because you wear a seat belt doesn't mean you're seeking out an accident," Kaye said.


Apparently it does if your a rightwingnut. Maybe we should start looking at their driving records.

The Real Power Behind The Throne?

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (AP) - It looks like the third time was the charm for the Federalist Society. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has long been an active participant in the conservative legal society, an influential group that sometimes goes to great lengths to play down its influence. Alito has been a member for at least 15 years and has spoken before both the national organization and its student chapters on a number of occasions.

That's a welcome change for the group after the last two Supreme Court nominations:

_John Roberts, the new chief justice, is well-liked by Federalist Society members but belatedly denied he'd ever been a member of the organization after he was nominated to the high court, even though he once was listed in its leadership directory.

_Harriet Miers, who withdrew her nomination to the court, once testified that she 'wouldn't belong to the Federalist Society' or other 'politically charged' groups that 'seem to color your view one way or another.'"


Is that a right-wind conspiracy in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? I think Harriet Miers was right, and we should fight this nom to the end. I don't trust these secret society types any further than I can spit.

Flash: Lobbyists Sometimes Lying Crooks

My Way News:
"In October 2001, the tribe paid Michael Scanlon $870,000 to create a grass roots political structure in Texas because it was told Texas was on the verge of legalizing gambling and that would devastate the Coushatta casino, which relies on customers from Houston, the Senate panel was told.

'Our vulnerability simply provided an opportunity to steal and they hit the jackpot with us,' Sickey said of lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his partner, Scanlon."


I may have picked a stronger word than "vulnerability", but I see their point. They happened to be native americans, but they could just as easily have been the elderly or poor children. I don't think Abramov's group would have cared.

Any Questions?

Decisions Offer Clues to Court Pick's View of Divisive Issues - New York Times:
"One distinct theme emerges from an examination of 15 cases decided by Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. involving abortion: his thinking is shaped by a traditional concept of marriage.

His most famous abortion opinion, a 1991 dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, would have upheld a Pennsylvania law that required women seeking abortions to notify their husbands. 'Pennsylvania has a legitimate interest in furthering the husband's interest in the fate of the fetus,' Judge Alito wrote.

[...]

Last year, he ruled that the husbands of women forced to undergo abortions in China had themselves suffered persecution serious enough to warrant granting the men asylum in the United States. But he rejected similar claims from boyfriends or fianc├ęs of women who had been forced to have abortions.

The categorical distinction was warranted, he wrote, because marriage was a central organizing principle in the law. 'The marriage relation,' he wrote, is important in 'so many areas,' including 'income tax, welfare benefits, property, inheritance, testimonial privilege, etc.'

Extending the asylum protection 'to nonspouses would create numerous practical difficulties,' he wrote."

Sure Looks Like It

My Way News:
"BERLIN (Reuters) - Iran will process a new batch of uranium at its Isfahan nuclear plant beginning next week, despite pressure from the United States and European Union to halt all sensitive nuclear work, diplomats said on Wednesday.

'Beginning next week, the Iranians will start a new phase of uranium conversion at Isfahan. They will begin feeding a new batch of uranium into the plant,' a European diplomat familiar with the result of inspections of the U.N. nuclear watchdog told Reuters on condition of anonymity."

America, The Torturer

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA has been holding and interrogating al Qaeda captives at a secret facility in Eastern Europe, part of a covert prison system established after the September 11, 2001, attacks, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The Soviet-era compound is part of a network that has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand and Afghanistan, the newspaper reported, citing U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement."


This is one of the reasons Lord Cheney wants covert operators (those who aren't married to whistleblowers) to be exempt from the anti-torture bill recently passed by congress.

Cue Vader theme.

Oops!

CBS News | Top Al Qaeda Suspect Escapes | November 2, 2005 09:00:05:
"(AP) A suspected top al Qaeda operative who escaped from a U.S.-run detention facility in Afghanistan poses a serious threat to Southeast Asian security, anti-terror officials said Wednesday. Some said Washington failed to tell them Omar al-Farouq was free.

Al-Farouq, born in Kuwait to Iraqi parents, was considered one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants in Southeast Asia until Indonesian authorities captured him in 2002 and turned him over to the United States.

[...]

Several razor-wire fences surround the base and areas outside the perimeter remain mined from Afghanistan's civil war and Soviet occupation. Military teams patrol constantly and the main entrance is a series of heavily guarded checkpoints.

Though the escape was widely reported at the time, al-Farouq was identified by another name."


Dang those pesky AQ's. They can be such an embarassment.

Doesn't the paragraph about the security surrounding the base make you think maybe it was an inside job? Are the AQ's really that good?

Martial Law, Anyone?

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (AP) - Sustained person-to-person spread of the bird flu or any other super-influenza strain anywhere in the world could prompt the United States to implement travel restrictions or other steps to block a brewing pandemic, say federal plans released Wednesday.

If a super-flu begins spreading here, states and cities will have to ration scarce medications and triage panicked patients to prevent them from overwhelming hospitals and spreading infection inside emergency rooms, the plan says."


You know, if I were writing a fictional novel about political intrigue, maybe with a little sci-fi mixed in, this scenario would present the perfect opportunity for a Christo-fascist group of high-ranking officials to finally put the country on martial law and take control of the large cities. Then term-limits would be set aside because the current leadership is so important now in this crisis....

Another War, Anyone?

My Way News:
"TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's hard-line government said Wednesday it was removing 40 ambassadors and senior diplomats, including supporters of warmer ties with the West, from their posts in a shake-up that comes as the Islamic republic takes a more confrontational international stance."

With all the broohaha over Iran's "involvement" with the insurgency in Iraq, and Iran's supposed nuclear weapons program (both of which may be true, but in this environment, who can tell?), are we getting ready to go to war with them? How about Syria? Is it really all about control of oil? Hmmmmm.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Finally, Outrage For A Cause

My Way News:
"Invoking a little used rule, Democrats temporarily shut down television cameras in the chamber, cleared galleries of reporters, tourists and other onlookers, forced removal of staff members and recording devices and stopped work on legislation.

'At its core, this is about accountability -- congressional accountability and White House accountability,' said Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Democrats were pressing that committee to produce a report on whether the Bush administration misused intelligence on Iraq's weapons to justify the March 2003 invasion. No weapons of mass destruction were found."


I just love it when congress gets outrageous, especially when it ought to. I hope it gives the Reps fits. I just wish I had access to TV during the day.

AlterNet: Blogs: Rachel Neumann: Want to talk ugly?

AlterNet: Blogs: Rachel Neumann: Want to talk ugly?:
"....Wouldn't a smart righteous Democratic response ackowledge that this is just the latest ugly thing coming out of the administration? Want to talk ugly? How about a Supreme Court that, for at least the next fifty years, will send people to the death chamber even if they've had incompetent lawyers; a Court that will restrict abortion to such an extent that if it remains legal it will do so in name only; will remove what few gun control laws we have in the U.S.; and will support U.S. torture centers abroad?

Want to talk ugly? That's a pretty good word to sum up the situation in Iraq, with over 2,000 American troops and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead for a reason that changes every week.

Want to talk ugly? How about exposing an undercover CIA agent because you don't like her husband's politics?

All in all, it's been a pretty ugly last few years. Perhaps, in this battle over the Supreme Court, the ugliness can be fully revealed, Dems can remember what they stand for, grassroots activists can unify, hold supposedly progressive politicians feet to the fire, and make a real push for the 2006 mid-term elections."


I think Ms. Neumann is divine. This piece comes right to the heart of the moment. I wish the Dems would read more good blogs and tell the MSM to get lost.

In Case You Were Keeping Score

My Way News:
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. terrorism experts Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon have reached a stark conclusion about the war on terrorism: the United States is losing.

Despite an early victory over the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the two former Clinton administration officials say President George W. Bush's policies have created a new haven for terrorism in Iraq that escalates the potential for Islamic violence against Europe and the United States.

America's badly damaged image in the Muslim world could take more than a generation to set right. And Bush's mounting political woes at home have undermined the chance for any bold U.S. initiatives to address the grim social realities that feed Islamic radicalism, they say.

'It's been fairly disastrous,' said Benjamin, who worked as a director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council from 1994 to 1999."


At least somebody is willing to say the obvious. Of course, this will just be passed off as political speech since it comes from people who worked in the last administration. Still, I think they are right. More's the pity.

Methodist Court Removes Openly Lesbian Minister - New York Times

Methodist Court Removes Openly Lesbian Minister - New York Times:
"In a pair of decisions that bolstered conservatives, the highest court of the United Methodist Church defrocked an openly lesbian minister yesterday and reinstated a pastor who had been suspended for refusing to allow a gay man to become a member of his congregation."

Gays have become the last minority, the last "acceptable" target of bigotry and fear. It's very sad that the churches, who claim to follow the teachings of a man who embraced the outcasts of his society, participate in this frenzy of hate. Just as people of "faith" cheerlead for war and promote the death penalty, they single out gays as being unclean. It's as bad as shooting doctors to stop abortions. It's totally irrational, and totally wrong, and yet somehow these fundamentals think it's moral.

Simple common sense would suffice to tell you that people don't choose their sexuality any more than they choose the color of skin or eyes they are born with. People don't choose to be poor, or alcoholic, or diabetic. They don't choose where and when to be born or to whom.

But they do choose to be socially responsible or morally compromised. They choose whether to be greedy or generous. They choose whether to help others or look the other way.

People probably don't choose to be homophobic or racist or bigoted. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt. But to use the trappings of religion or patriotism to excuse such behavior is reprehensible. Hate is a learned behavior. No one is born a hater. This would indicate it can be unlearned, though I'm beginning to have my doubts this is true in all cases.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Protect Who?

CBS News | Security Deadlines Missed | October 31, 2005 17:00:06:
"(AP) The Bush administration has missed dozens of deadlines set by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks for developing ways to protect airplanes, ships and railways from terrorists.

A plan to defend ships and ports from attack is six months overdue. Rules to protect air cargo from infiltration by terrorists are two months late. A study on the cost of giving anti-terrorism training to federal law enforcement officers who fly commercially was supposed to be done more than three years ago. "


I'm just shocked and awed that our safety would take a backseat to tax cuts and court stuffing.

And Now For Something Completely Indifferent

CNN.com - House Republicans chop several programs - Oct 30, 2005:
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans voted to cut student loan subsidies, child support enforcement and aid to firms hurt by unfair trade practices as various committees scrambled to piece together $50 billion in budget cuts.

More politically difficult votes -- to cut Medicaid, food stamps and farm subsidies -- were on tap Thursday as more panels weigh in on the bill.

[...]

'I encourage Congress to push the envelope when it comes to cutting spending,' Bush said."


Yeah, because those tax cuts for the rich are just too good to let go. Pigs!

Here We Go Again

My Way News:
"Alito's voting record is more like that of Justice Antonin Scalia, who contends the undue burden standard is hopelessly unworkable. Scalia also would like to overturn Roe.

As a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, Alito voted in 1991 to uphold a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses. That case went to the Supreme Court, where justices used it to reaffirm Roe v. Wade. O'Connor was an architect of the decision that struck down the state's spousal notification requirement.

Abortion rights groups immediately criticized Bush's choice of Alito, who would become the fifth Catholic on the high court."


The Dems better step up to the plate, or this country is going back to the fifties, and not in a good way.

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