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Monday, April 3
1:12 pmThe Post Below: More Wake-up Calls for Democrats

Kevin Phillips' opinion in Sunday's Washington Post is telling, chilling, and has ramifications for the rest of the nation. We have a theocracy in these last, lusty, power-grabbing days of Movement Conservatism. They can't see it, as it would apply a human label to something they think is from God. The media refuses to cover it, out of fear and a few heaping teaspoons of intellectual laziness.

Dems aren't in the greatest position of talking about it. Some of us hate church people, and what we say about them seems petulent. Some of us make fun of them, out of a lack of a sense of history and sheer stupidity. So when we talk about theocracy, it sounds more like Chicken Little or Jay Leno.

Independent Dems are beginning to make inroads. Jim Wallis at Sojourners is the primary example of someone who is right on point in identifying the excesses of today's Republicans and decrying their newly minted theocracy. He's got some things to say about Dems as well, but that's a different post.

So it looks as if the only way we as a nation will learn of the collective deceptions engineered by Republicans over the past few decades is to take the fall with them.

It's a shame our party leaders have self-neutered. There is something to the strategy of letting the GOP show itself as liars and frauds. But never forget that after it all comes apart, there will be two choices: Democrats and Republicans that truly don't believe in Movement Conservatism. They'll be the new Moderate Republican. The distinction between the two and Movement Conservatives will be stark and clearly identifiable. People will be looking for a change. It's not guaranteed that people will gravitate to Democrats, something that seems to be what the party is counting on. Hoping that people gravitate toward us instead of a new Repbulican message is wishful thinking.

How the GOP Became God's Own Party
Monday, April 3 (Washington Post)Now that the GOP has been transformed by the rise of the South, the trauma of terrorism and George W. Bush's conviction that God wanted him to be president, a deeper conclusion can be drawn: The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history.

We have had small-scale theocracies in North America before -- in Puritan New England and later in Mormon Utah. Today, a leading power such as the United States approaches theocracy when it meets the conditions currently on display: an elected leader who believes himself to speak for the Almighty, a ruling political party that represents religious true believers, the certainty of many Republican voters that government should be guided by religion and, on top of it all, a White House that adopts agendas seemingly animated by biblical worldviews.

Indeed, there is a potent change taking place in this country's domestic and foreign policy, driven by religion's new political prowess and its role in projecting military power in the Mideast.

The United States has organized much of its military posture since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks around the protection of oil fields, pipelines and sea lanes. But U.S. preoccupation with the Middle East has another dimension. In addition to its concerns with oil and terrorism, the White House is courting end-times theologians and electorates for whom the Holy Lands are a battleground of Christian destiny. Both pursuits -- oil and biblical expectations -- require a dissimulation in Washington that undercuts the U.S. tradition of commitment to the role of an informed electorate.

The political corollary -- fascinating but appalling -- is the recent transformation of the Republican presidential coalition. Since the election of 2000 and especially that of 2004, three pillars have become central: the oil-national security complex, with its pervasive interests; the religious right, with its doctrinal imperatives and massive electorate; and the debt-driven financial sector, which extends far beyond the old symbolism of Wall Street. More

The ignoble art of pandering
Monday, April 3 (St. Petersburg Times)What are we to make of the strange mating dances going on in presidential politics?

Sen. John McCain, who not so long ago denounced the Rev. Jerry Falwell as an agent of "intolerance," has lately been cozying up to the conservative preacher. The two met recently, and Falwell has suggested that McCain, once lost, may be on the road to redemption. Next month, McCain will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University, which Falwell founded.

McCain is a maverick Republican who has been more popular with Democrats and independents than with GOP conservatives. Will Falwell's flock forgive him for standing with Democrats against President Bush on tax cuts and torture? Or for defending Democrat John Kerry in 2004 against the Swift Boat ads attacking his Vietnam War record?

Miracles happen, I guess.

And what about Senate Republican leader Bill Frist, a Harvard-trained heart surgeon who made a fool of himself last year in the Terri Schiavo circus on Capitol Hill? Now he has broken ranks with the president and his own GOP caucus to become a champion of tough new laws to crack down on illegal immigration.

The behavior of Frist and McCain, rivals for their party's 2008 presidential nomination, is part of a demeaning political spectacle known as courting your party's "base," or core constituencies. It causes presidential wanna-bes to say and do things that, more often than not, diminish their credibility as candidates. The conventional political thinking is that candidates have no choice because the presidential primary process is dominated by activists on the left (Democrats) and the right (Republicans). Maybe so, but does this courting ritual have to be so nauseating? More

Living on society's margin, illegal workers long for a reprieve
Senate bill revives hope of those who fear deportation
Monday, April 3 (Boston Globe)Sarah, a bubbly home nursing aide, came to Boston to visit friends on holiday from Ireland four years ago. She never left. Attracted by the high wages and the big-city lifestyle, she got a job and set up house in Quincy.

Sarah, 26, who asked that her full name not be published, is working here illegally. She can't enroll in school because she is afraid of being exposed by professors. Her heart jumps every time a police officer walks by her. And when her beloved grandfather died a few years ago, she couldn't return to Ireland to attend his funeral.

''I just want to work and give back and be an outstanding citizen," said Sarah, who dreams of going to college and becoming a police officer or an FBI agent.

Like millions of undocumented workers in the United States, Sarah's hopes for staying in the United States center on an immigration reform bill passed last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee that, along with strengthening border security, would put illegal immigrants on track to permanent legal status and allow up to 400,000 foreign workers each year to fill low-skill jobs. A competing House version calls for building a 700-mile wall along the US-Mexico border, criminalizing undocumented immigrants and those who help them, and giving local police the power to enforce immigration laws.

The Senate bill has lifted the spirits of those who feared they would never have a chance to live here legally. Monica Modi Khant, an attorney for the International Institute in Boston, has been fielding calls from people eager to find out anything about it.
''They want to know when they can apply," she said. ''They think it has been passed today."

Under the Senate proposal, undocumented workers already in the United States can apply for a six-year temporary visa, and would eventually be able to apply for a green card provided they pay a $2,000 fine, pass rigorous background and security checks, and show basic comprehension of English and American civics. Opponents say it amounts to an amnesty for millions of people who have broken the law.

US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, whose proposals formed the basis of the Judiciary Committee's bill, has received hundreds of emotional calls from people for and against the proposal, said spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner. More

Friday, March 31
A Meltdown We Can't Even Enjoy
Friday, March 31 (Washington Post)It's frustrating. The three overlapping forces that have sent this country in so many wrong directions -- the conservative movement, the neoconservative movement and the Republican Party -- are warring among themselves, doing their best impression of crabs in a barrel, and sensible people can't even enjoy the spectacle. That's because it's hard to take pleasure in the havoc they've caused and the disarray they will someday leave behind.

Factions within the conservative movement have been engaged in escalating skirmishes over what, exactly, the label "conservative" should mean. This week the fight is over illegal immigration. The nativists and xenophobes want mass deportation and a Berlin Wall looming over the Rio Grande. The cultural determinists lose their studied, academic poise the moment they hear brown-skinned people speaking Spanish or see them waving a Mexican flag. Watch your blood pressure, people, because Cinco de Mayo is just a few weeks away.

The social conservatives seem to be hopelessly conflicted about immigration. They have a kind of immune-system reaction against this unchecked inflow of aliens who look suspiciously like carriers of alien values. But, as some conservative commentators have noted, the immigrants flooding across the border are more likely to have traditional, family-and-church values than many native-born Americans. Does . . . not . . . compute. More

New Treasury Report Paints Misleading Picture
Friday, March 31 (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)The Treasury Department recently released a report entitled The Economic Effects of Cutting Dividend and Capital Gains Taxes in 2003.  While the text of the new document acknowledges that gains in the economy since 2003 are the result of a combination of many factors, the pictures that accompany the report communicate a less nuanced message. [1]  The graphs display GDP, non-residential investment, and employment growth since the current economic recovery began in November 2001, and they highlight the fact that growth rates generally increased around the time of the 2003 tax cuts.  The expected inference, of course, is that the 2003 tax cuts and, in particular, the capital gains and dividend tax cuts caused the improvement in the economy.

A more comprehensive look at the evidence, however, indicates that, while the dividend and capital gains tax cuts were indeed correlated with the upturn in the recover, they were not the cause of the improvement.  In painting a simple picture of coincident timing, the Treasury documents omit many relevant facts, such as information regarding:

* Likely economic conditions without the tax cuts.  By the beginning of 2003, a number of significant factors were aligned to support the recovery, including very low short-term interest rates.  As a result, as of early 2003, various expert observers, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal, were predicting that GDP and investment growth would accelerate in 2003.  Furthermore, the Presidents own Council of Economic Advisors was predicting a significant increase in employment growth starting in 2003, even without additional tax cuts.  In fact, while the Treasury report emphasizes employment gains that it implies are due to the 2003 tax cuts, actual employment at the end of 2005 was significantly below the level CEA predicted it would reach without the tax cuts (see Figure 1).

* Implication of Treasury claims.  Had the current recovery continued on the path it was on from November 2001 through mid-2003, it would have been the weakest recovery since World War II.  In other words, by implying that the economy would not have improved without the 2003 tax cuts, Treasury is in essence claiming that, despite aggressive monetary policy by the Federal Reserve and significant tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2002, this recovery would have been the worst in half a century.  As noted, this was not the consensus among economists at the time.

* Experiences in other recoveries.  The path that the recovery followed after the recession in 2001 was very similar to the path of the 1990s recovery.  Like the current recovery, the 1990s recovery was initially relatively weak, and growth accelerated about 18 months after the recovery began.  In the case of the 1990s, however, the improvement was more pronounced than in the case of the current recovery, and the stronger growth coincided with a tax increase.  If every economic change that followed a tax change was caused by that tax change, then the 1990s experience would show that tax increases provide more potent economic stimulus than tax cuts.  The more appropriate lesson to draw may be that initially weak recoveries eventually tend to improve, independent of tax policy decisions.

* Economic theory and evidence surrounding capital gains and dividend tax cuts.  Capital gains and dividend tax cuts are generally understood to be supply-side tax cuts that is, even if they work, their effects are felt in the long run, not as short-run economic stimulus.  The Congressional Budget Office, for instance, found that little fiscal stimulus would be provided by cutting capital gains tax rates.[2]  Conservative economist Gary Becker, a supporter of the dividend tax cut, wrote that it will not yield immediate benefits&. Any short-run stimulus from eliminating the dividend tax would be too weak to have a significant benefit to the economy.[3] Kevin Hassett, another conservative economist who supports the dividend tax cut, has called it preposterous to claim that reducing taxes on dividends created millions of new jobs.[4]

Some supporters of the capital gains and dividend tax cuts argue that they boosted the economy in the short run by boosting the stock market.  A Federal Reserve study, however, found that the dividend and capital gains tax cuts were not the reason the market rose in 2003.  (Not surprisingly, the Treasury report did not cite this Federal Reserve study.)

* Historical Norms.  Even if one were to grant the claim that the tax cuts caused the improvement in the recovery, this would not establish that tax cuts are strong engines of growth.  The current recovery, despite at least one major tax cut every year for four years, remains weak relative to past post-World War II recoveries.  This means that the Administration and Congress have expended over $1 trillion in tax relief (through 2006), and wracked up correspondingly large budget deficits, without producing even an average economic expansion. More

11:10 amThe Stephen Heller Legal Defense Fund


Hello everyone, this is Michele Gregory, Stephen Heller's wife. Once again, Stephen and I thank you for all of your help and support. Your encouragement and kind words have been invaluable to us in this very difficult and frightening time.

As you know, Stephen has been charged with some very serious crimes for allegedly blowing the whistle on Diebold Election Systems. He has pleaded innocent to all charges. He needed the very best legal defense, but criminal defense attorneys are very expensive. So far, starting in August of 2004, we have covered Stephen's legal bills with our personal savings and by taking a second mortgage on our house. Our savings are now gone, and our credit is strained.

And so, with the help of some friends, I have started the Stephen Heller Legal Defense Fund and corresponding website.


Please visit the site. It has details on Stephen's case, news, press articles, blog posts, and information about the defense fund, including detailed information on how it is run and how you can donate, should you wish to.

Whether or not you are able to donate, please pass the website around to everyone you know. Stephen's lawyer has said that public awareness of his situation will be beneficial to his defense.

Thank you all for all you have done, are doing, and will do. Stephen and I are in your debt; you have our gratitude.

With love,

Michele Gregory, proud and loving wife of Stephen Heller

* * * * *

Should you wish to donate with a check, please make the
check out to "The Stephen Heller Legal Defense Fund" and
mail it to:

The Stephen Heller Legal Defense Fund
c/o Michele D. Gregory, Fund Administrator
17216 Saticoy St., Box 234
Van Nuys, CA 91406-2103

The fund itself is a non-interest bearing, FDIC insured checking account opened on March 7, 2006 at the First Federal Bank of California, Encino branch. Stephen's name is not on the account and he does not have access to the money. Monies can only be used for payments to Stephen's attorneys, and the account has been set up after advice from attorneys and with full transparency.

Judges on Secretive Panel Speak Out on Spy Program
Friday, March 31 (New York Times)Five former judges on the nation's most secretive court, including one who resigned in apparent protest over President Bush's domestic eavesdropping, urged Congress on Tuesday to give the court a formal role in overseeing the surveillance program.

In a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the secretive court, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, several former judges who served on the panel also voiced skepticism at a Senate hearing about the president's constitutional authority to order wiretapping on Americans without a court order. They also suggested that the program could imperil criminal prosecutions that grew out of the wiretaps.

Judge Harold A. Baker, a sitting federal judge in Illinois who served on the intelligence court until last year, said the president was bound by the law "like everyone else." If a law like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is duly enacted by Congress and considered constitutional, Judge Baker said, "the president ignores it at the president's peril."

Judge Baker and three other judges who served on the intelligence court testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in support of a proposal by Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, to give the court formal oversight of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program. Committee members also heard parts of a letter in support of the proposal from a fifth judge, James Robertson, who left the court last December, days after the eavesdropping program was disclosed.

The intelligence court, created by Congress in 1978, meets in a tightly guarded, windowless office at the Justice Department. The court produces no public findings except for a single tally to Congress each year on the number of warrants it has issued more than 1,600 in 2004. Even its roster of judges serving seven-year terms was, for a time, considered secret.

But Mr. Bush's decision effectively to bypass the court in permitting eavesdropping without warrants has raised the court's profile. That was underscored by the appearance on Tuesday of the four former FISA judges: Judge Baker; Judge Stanley S. Brotman, who left the panel in 2004; Judge John F. Keenan, who left in 2001; and Judge William H. Stafford Jr., who left in 2003. All four sit on the federal judiciary.

At a hearing lasting more than three hours, the former FISA judges discussed in detail their views on the standards of proof required by the court, its relations with the Justice Department, and the constitutional, balance-of-power issues at the heart of the debate over the N.S.A. program. The agency monitored the international communications of people inside the United States believed to be linked to Al Qaeda. More

Card Away
Friday, March 31 (The New Republic)The announcement Tuesday that President Bush had replaced Andy Card with Card's deputy, Josh Bolten, sent me scrambling into my files for a heartwarming memento of the departed chief of staff. There, I found a letter Card once wrote me. Emblazoned with a gold presidential seal and Card's title, CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE PRESIDENT, the letter arrived back in 2001, weeks after Card sent it. Block letters on the front of the envelope revealed the reason for its delay: returned for postage. To me, that was Andy Card: the guy who tried to mail a letter without a stamp. 

Lately, it has seemed that Card was at the center of far greater acts of ineptitude. Michael Brown testified that he tried to sound the alarm about Hurricane Katrina by going straight to Card but that Bush's chief of staff rebuffed him, arguing that they ought not bypass normal fema procedures. Card was the first senior official at the White House to learn that Dick Cheney shot a man, yet the information still took another day to dribble out to the press. The Dubai ports kerfuffle metastasized into a full-blown scandal before Card ever alerted the president to its danger. 

It was no surprise, then, that Bush concluded the problem was Card's inability to get information to him promptly. Hours after the Oval Office photo-op where Bush celebrated Card's service and announced his resignation, the president gave an interview to CNN in which he gently knifed Card in the back. One of his "most important needs," Bush said, "is to make sure I get information in a timely fashion so I can make decisions." 

The dig at Card made it clear that the White House intends to use him as a scapegoat for all of Bush's current ills. But don't feel sorry for Card. For more than five years, he has worn blame as a badge of honor and elevated self-flagellation to the highest virtue of presidential service. He has long tried to convince White House observers that all of Bush's problems are his fault alone. By accepting his resignation, Bush finally agreed. It may have been the happiest day of Andy Card's life. More

Laws and Funding Thwart Search for Illegal Workers
As Congress debates immigration reform, its will to crack down on employers will be tested.
Friday, March 31 (LA Times)Every year, the Social Security Administration collects information from companies that could make it easier to crack down on illegal immigration.

A New Jersey labor broker and a security guard firm in California are among thousands of businesses that have filed Social Security tax payments for a large number of workers that do not match any known taxpayer. That, the Social Security agency says, is a sign that the workers are most likely illegal. In 2001, payments for 96% of the New Jersey company's workers did not correspond to any taxpayer on file.

Yet the authorities who enforce immigration law have no access to the names of the companies or the workers.

That is just one of many ways that legal barriers, funding priorities and other problems make it hard for immigration officials to go to the one place they know undocumented workers will be: the work site.

With the Senate debating an overhaul of immigration laws, the nation is about to see how much muscle Congress is willing to put into the effort to stop illegal hiring.

Proposals to increase federal oversight of employers and the workplace have long faced opposition from business groups, which say they fear taking on new costs and struggling with flawed government databases. More

Thursday, March 30 (Sorry about not posting-work is killing me!)
Insulating Bush
Thursday, March 30 (National Journal)Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true, according to government records and interviews.

As the 2004 election loomed, the White House was determined to keep the wraps on a potentially damaging memo about Iraq.

Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."

Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

The previously undisclosed review by Hadley was part of a damage-control effort launched after former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV alleged that Bush's claims regarding the uranium were not true. The CIA had sent Wilson to the African nation of Niger in 2002 to investigate the purported procurement efforts by Iraq; he reported that they were most likely a hoax. More

Ed note: Supplememtal material on this article at this link.
This is about war and democracy
Thursday, March 30 (Conneticut Journal-Inquirer)In 1968, there was one overriding issue in America, and that was the war in Vietnam. America had what was known as "the peace movement." I am one who was a small part of it - teach-ins, marches, vigils, and politics.

Our president lied to us about that war. He lied about its origin and he lied about its execution and its progress. So did all his aides and most of the national political establishment. LBJ even lied about being for the war. We now know, from various tapes and diaries, that he himself had grave doubts.

His successor also lied about the war in Vietnam. He was an even bigger liar, about all things, but especially the war. "Vietnamization" was a lie. He lied about expanding the war into Cambodia. His government lied about Agent Orange. It lied about the Christmas bombings of North Vietnamese hospitals. And Richard Nixon was seemingly not agonized by the killing, as LBJ was.

Then came Watergate: More lies.

By 1975, when Saigon fell, the draft was abolished and the vote extended to 18-year-olds, but a generation had come to early political maturity in the context of a vast mendacity.

Maybe that's why many of the boomer generation wanted so badly to trust George W. Bush and back their government and show the flag after 9/11. Only malcontents prefer opposition. Indeed, most of America gave Team Bush the benefit of the doubt when the president and Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell told us to trust them. Saddam Hussein's Iraq had some bad stuff, they said. Maybe not nuclear weapons, but chemical ones. And nuclear ones were next. We had to take the "war on terror" to the terrorists. More

G.O.P. Risking Hispanic Votes on Immigration
Thursday, March 30 (New York Times)The battle among Republicans over immigration policy and border security is threatening to undercut a decade-long effort by President Bush and his party to court Hispanic voters, just as both parties are gearing up for the 2006 elections.

"I believe the Republican Party has hurt itself already," said the Rev. Luis Cortes, a Philadelphia pastor close to President Bush and the leader of a national organization of Hispanic Protestant clergy members, saying he delivered that message to the president last week in a meeting at the White House.

To underscore the contested allegiance of Hispanic voters, Mr. Cortes said, he also took a delegation of Hispanic ministers to meet with the leaders of both parties last week, including what he called a productive discussion with Howard Dean, the Democratic chairman.

The immigration and security debate, which has sparked huge demonstrations in recent days by Hispanic residents of cities around the country, comes at a crucial moment for both parties.

Over the last three national elections, persistent appeals by Mr. Bush and other Republican leaders have helped double their party's share of the Hispanic vote, to more than 40 percent in 2004 from about 20 percent in 1996. As a result, Democrats can no longer rely on the country's 42 million Hispanic residents as a natural part of their base.

In a lunch meeting of Senate Republicans this week, Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, the only Hispanic Republican in the Senate, gave his colleagues a stern warning. "This is the first issue that, in my mind, has absolutely galvanized the Latino community in America like no other," Mr. Martinez said he told them.

The anger among Hispanics has continued even as the Senate Judiciary Committee proposed a bill this week that would allow illegal immigrants a way to become citizens. The backlash was aggravated, Mr. Martinez said in an interview, by a Republican plan to crack down on illegal immigrants that the House approved last year. More

Democrats Offer National Security Strategy
Thursday, March 30 (Yahoo News)Democrats on Wednesday proposed a wide-ranging strategy for protecting Americans at home and abroad, an election-year effort aimed at changing public perception that Republicans are stronger on national security. Republicans, for their part, criticized the national security policy statement as a stunt.

"We are uniting behind a national security agenda that is tough and smart, an agenda that will provide the real security President Bush has promised, but failed to deliver," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.

His counterpart in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., said Democrats were providing a fresh strategy "one that is strong and smart, which understands the challenges America faces in a post 9/11 world, and one that demonstrates that Democrats are the party of real national security."

They spoke at a news conference at Union Station, near the Capitol, in front of banners reading "Real Security." They were flanked by some of the Democratic Party's top authorities on national security, including retired Gen. Wesley Clark and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

In the strategy, Democrats vowed to provide U.S. agents with the resources to "eliminate" Osama bin Laden and ensure a "responsible redeployment of U.S. forces" from Iraq in 2006. They promised to rebuild the military, eliminate the United States' dependence on foreign oil by 2020 and implement the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission. Those are many of the same proposals Democrats have offered before. More

Survey of Mexican Migrants, Part Three
The Economic Transition to America
Thursday, March 30 (Pew Hispanic Center)The vast majority of undocumented migrants from Mexico were gainfully employed before they left for the United States. Thus, failure to find work at home does not seem to be the primary reason that the estimated 6.3 million undocumented migrants from Mexico have come to the U.S. Policies aimed at reducing migration pressures by improving economic conditions in Mexico may also need to address factors such as wages, job quality, long-term prospects and perceptions of opportunity.

Once they arrive and pass through a relatively brief period of transition and adjustment, migrants have little trouble finding work. Family and social networks play a significant role in this; large shares of migrants report talking to people they know in the U.S. about job opportunities and living with relatives after arrival. They easily make transitions into new jobs, even though most find themselves working in industries that are new to them. Also, many are paid at minimum-wage levels or below, and it is not uncommon for these workers to experience relatively long spells of unemployment.

The demand for labor appears to play a strong role in shaping the economic destiny of Mexican migrants. Regardless of their background and origin in Mexico or their year of arrival, migrants are concentrated in the same handful of industries in the U.S.--agriculture, hospitality, construction and manufacturing. However, there are also signs of change in the characteristics of migrants and the nature of the demand for them. More

Ed note: here's the link to Part One, and Part Two
8:14 amDon't be Fooled by the Mathematical Hype

Here's a link to the Pew Hispanic Center's report on illegal immigrants. Here's the entire Executive Summary. Here's an excerpt from it:

The Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S. Estimates Based on the March 2005 Current Population Survey
Executive Summary

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there are currently 11.5 to 12 million unauthorized migrants living in the United States.

This estimate is based on data from Census 2000, the March 2005 Current Population Survey (CPS) and the monthly Current Population Surveys through January 2006. Analysis of the March 2005 CPS shows that there were 11.1 million unauthorized migrants in the United States a year ago. Based on the monthly Current Population Surveys conducted since then and other data sources that offer indications of the pace of growth in the foreign-born population, the Center developed an estimate of 11.5 to 12 million for the unauthorized population as of March 2006.

Using a well-established methodology, this report offers estimates for the size and certain characteristics, such as age and national origins, of the unauthorized population. Major findings include:

Numbers and Origins
" The number of unauthorized migrants living in the United States has continued to increase steadily for several years, reaching an estimated 11.1 million based on the March 2005 compared to an estimate of 8.4 million based on Census 2000.

" Since 2000, growth in the unauthorized population has averaged more than 500,000 per year. Based on evidence that this trend has persisted, the current unauthorized population can be estimated at between 11.5 and 12 million.

" In the March 2005 estimate two-thirds (66%) of the unauthorized population had been in the country for ten years or less, and the largest share, 40% of the total or 4.4 million people had been in the country five years or less.

" Unauthorized migrants accounted for 30% of the foreign-born population in 2005. Another 28% were legal permanent residents, and 31% were U.S. citizens by naturalization.

" Most of unauthorized migrants came from Mexico. There were an estimated 6.2 million unauthorized Mexican migrants in 2005, or 56% of the unauthorized population.

" About 2.5 million unauthorized migrants, or 22% of the total, have come from the rest of Latin America, primarily from Central America. Unauthorized migrants from Mexico and the rest of Latin America represented 78% of the
unauthorized population in 2005.

" Between 2000 and 2005 the number of unauthorized migrants from Mexico increased by about 1.5 million. Other large increases occurred among unauthorized migrants from Central America (+465,000) and South and East Asia (+365,000).

Sunday. March 26
Called by God to Help
Sunday, March 26 (New York Times)I'VE received a lot of criticism for stating last month that I would instruct the priests of my archdiocese to disobey a proposed law that would subject them, as well as other church and humanitarian workers, to criminal penalties. The proposed Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives in December and is expected to be taken up by the Senate next week, would among other things subject to five years in prison anyone who "assists" an undocumented immigrant "to remain in the United States."

Some supporters of the bill have even accused the church of encouraging illegal immigration and meddling in politics. But I stand by my statement. Part of the mission of the Roman Catholic Church is to help people in need. It is our Gospel mandate, in which Christ instructs us to clothe the naked, feed the poor and welcome the stranger. Indeed, the Catholic Church, through Catholic Charities agencies around the country, is one of the largest nonprofit providers of social services in the nation, serving both citizens and immigrants.

Providing humanitarian assistance to those in need should not be made a crime, as the House bill decrees. As written, the proposed law is so broad that it would criminalize even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid.

Current law does not require social service agencies to obtain evidence of legal status before rendering aid, nor should it. Denying aid to a fellow human being violates a law with a higher authority than Congress the law of God. More

Friday, March 24
Good versus evil isn't a strategy
Bush's worldview fails to see that in the Middle East, power politics is the key.
Friday, March 24 (LA Times)THE BUSH administration's newly unveiled National Security Strategy might well be subtitled "The Irony of Iran." Three years after the invasion of Iraq and the invention of the phrase "axis of evil," the administration now highlights the threat posed by Iran whose radical government has been vastly strengthened by the invasion of Iraq. This is more tragedy than strategy, and it reflects the Manichean approach this administration has taken to the world.

It is sometimes convenient, for purposes of rhetorical effect, for national leaders to talk of a globe neatly divided into good and bad. It is quite another, however, to base the policies of the world's most powerful nation upon that fiction. The administration's penchant for painting its perceived adversaries with the same sweeping brush has led to a series of unintended consequences.

For years, the president has acted as if Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein's followers and Iran's mullahs were parts of the same problem. Yet, in the 1980s, Hussein's Iraq and Iran fought a brutal war. In the 1990s, Al Qaeda's allies murdered a group of Iranian diplomats. For years, Osama bin Laden ridiculed Hussein, who persecuted Sunni and Shiite religious leaders alike. When Al Qaeda struck the U.S. on 9/11, Iran condemned the attacks and later participated constructively in talks on Afghanistan. The top leaders in the new Iraq chosen in elections that George W. Bush called "a magic moment in the history of liberty" are friends of Iran. When the U.S. invaded Iraq, Bush may have thought he was striking a blow for good over evil, but the forces unleashed were considerably more complex. More

Bush's Requests for Iraqi Base Funding Make Some Wary of Extended Stay
Friday, March 24 (LA Times)Even as military planners look to withdraw significant numbers of American troops from Iraq in the coming year, the Bush administration continues to request hundreds of millions of dollars for large bases there, raising concerns over whether they are intended as permanent sites for U.S. forces.

Questions on Capitol Hill about the future of the bases have been prompted by the new emergency spending bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week with $67.6 billion in funding for the war effort, including the base money.

Although the House approved the measure, lawmakers are demanding that the Pentagon explain its plans for the bases, and they unanimously passed a provision blocking the use of funds for base agreements with the Iraqi government.
"It's the kind of thing that incites terrorism," Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said of long-term or permanent U.S. bases in countries such as Iraq.

Paul, a critic of the war, is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that would make it official policy not to maintain such bases in Iraq. He noted that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden cited U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia as grounds for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. More

Of Course It's a Civil War
Friday, March 24 (Washington Post)Today's big debate over Iraq seems to be: Is there or is there not a civil war? Yes, say the defeatists, citing former prime minister Ayad Allawi, a man with an ax to grind against the current (elected) government, which excluded him.

No, not really, not yet, not quite, say U.S. officials and commanders, as well as Iraq's president, also hardly the most neutral of observers.

This debate appears to be important because the perception that there has been an outbreak of civil war following the Samarra bombing pushed some waverers to jump ship on their support for the war. Most famous of these is William F. Buckley Jr., who after Samarra declared that it is time for "the acknowledgment of defeat." Defeat? Yes, because of the inability of the Iraqi people to "suspend internal divisions" to allow a new democratic order to emerge.

This whole debate about civil war is surreal. What is the insurgency if not a war supported by one (minority) part of Iraqi society fighting to prevent the birth of the new Iraqi state supported by another (majority) part of Iraqi society?

By definition that is civil war, and there's nothing new about it. More

In Charge, Except They're Not
Friday, March 24 (Washington Post)Is President Bush the leader of our government, or is he just a right-wing talk-show host?

The question comes to mind after Bush's news conference this week in which he sounded like someone who has no control over the government he is in charge of. His words were those of a pundit inveighing against the evils of bureaucrats.

"Obviously," said the critic in chief, "there are some times when government bureaucracies haven't responded the way we wanted them to, and like citizens, you know, I don't like that at all." Yes, and if you can't do something about it, who can?

Bush went on: "I mean, I think, for example, of the trailers sitting down in Arkansas. Like many citizens, they're wondering why they're down there, you know. How come we've got 11,000?"

Bush was talking about 10,777 mobile homes ordered up to provide housing for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. As Rep. Mike Ross put it in an interview, most of these "brand-new, fully furnished homes are sitting in a hay meadow in Hope, Arkansas," and are "a symbol of what's wrong with this administration and what's wrong with FEMA."

Ross, a Democrat whose district includes that hay meadow, has been running a one-man crusade since December to get the homes moved to where they could actually provide shelter for those left homeless by the storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency let the homes sit there because its regulations don't permit the use of such structures in a flood plain. More

Thursday, March 23
Thursday, March 23 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)Real average weekly earnings were unchanged from January to February after seasonal adjustment, according to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.  A 0.3 percent increase in average hourly earnings was offset by a 0.3 percent decrease in average weekly hours. The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was unchanged.

Data on average weekly earnings are collected from the payroll reports of private nonfarm establishments.  Earnings of both full-time and part-time workers holding production or nonsupervisory jobs are included.  Real average weekly earnings are calculated by adjusting earnings in current dollars for changes in the CPI-W.

Average weekly earnings rose by 3.5 percent, seasonally adjusted, from February 2005 to February 2006.  After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings decreased by 0.1 percent.  Before adjustment for seasonal change and inflation, average weekly earnings were $553.42 in February 2006, compared with $534.33 a year earlier. More

Thursday, March 23 (Bureau of Labor Statistcs)The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent in February, before seasonal adjustment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.  The February level of 198.7 (1982-84=100) was 3.6 percent higher than in February 2005.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 0.1 percent in February, prior to seasonal adjustment. The February level of 194.2 (1982-84=100) was 3.7 percent higher than in February 2005. More

Statement of the Employment Situation, February 2006
Thursday, March 23 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)I appreciate this opportunity to comment on the employment and unemployment data that we released this morning.

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 243,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.8 percent. February's employment increase reflected gains in construction, mining, and several service-providing industries.

Within the goods-producing sector, construction employment increased by 41,000 in February, following another sizeable gain in January.  Over the past 12 months, job growth in construction has totaled 346,000.

In February, employment continued to rise in mining, mainly in support activities, especially those for oil and gas operations.

Manufacturing employment overall was virtually unchanged in February.  There were, however, offsetting movements in several industries.  The largest job losses were in motor vehicles and parts and primary metals.  Job gains occurred in machinery, petroleum products, and computer and electronic products.  The manufacturing workweek (at 41.0 hours) and factory overtime (at 4.6 hours) each rose by 0.1 hour. More

Producer Price Indexes -- February 2006
Thursday, March 23 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)The Producer Price Index for Finished Goods declined 1.4 percent in February, seasonally adjusted, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.  This decrease followed a 0.3-percent gain in January and a 0.6-percent increase in December.  

At the earlier stages of processing, the intermediate goods index turned down 0.3 percent, after rising 1.2 percent in the previous month, and prices for crude goods dropped 9.2 percent, following a 0.5-percent decrease in January. More
The Religious Right is losing control
Thursday, March 23 (Sojourners)For more than a decade, a series of environmental initiatives have been coming from an unexpected source - a new generation of young evangelical activists. Mostly under the public radar screen, they were covered in places such as Sojourners and Prism, the magazine of Evangelicals for Social Action. There were new and creative projects such as the Evangelical Environmental Network and Creation Care magazine. In November, 2002, one of these initiatives got some national attention - a campaign called "What Would Jesus Drive?" complete with fact sheets, church resources, and bumper stickers. The campaign was launched with a Detroit press conference and meetings with automotive executives.

Recently, more establishment evangelical groups, especially the National Association of Evangelicals, also began to speak up on the issue of creation care. Leading the way was Rich Cizik, NAE Vice President for Governmental Affairs, who, on issues like environmental concern and global poverty reduction, began to sound like the biblical prophet Amos. Cizik and NAE President Ted Haggard, a megachurch pastor in Colorado Springs, were attending critical seminars on the environment and climate change in particular and describing their experiences of "epiphany" and "conversion" on the issue. Cizik was quoted by The New York Times as saying, "I don't think God is going to ask us how he created the earth, but he will ask us what we did with what he created." In 2004, the NAE adopted a new policy statement, "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility," which included a principle titled "We labor to protect God's creation." More

Barry Bonds and Baseball's Steroids Scandal
Thursday, March 23 (New York Times)In the spring of 2001, as Barry Bonds was blasting balls out of ballparks in his steamrolling drive to overtake Mark McGwire's home-run record, he was peppered with questions from the press about his newfound power. "There are some things I don't understand right now," Mr. Bonds, the San Francisco Giants slugger, declared. "The balls I used to line off the walls are lining out [of the park]. I can't tell you why."

"Call God," he said. "Ask him. It's like, wow. I can't understand it, either."

Performance-enhancing drugs, not divine inspiration or intensified weight training, were behind Mr. Bonds's late-career home-run surge, according to "Game of Shadows," a devastating new book by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. They are the investigative reporters for The San Francisco Chronicle who broke article after article in 2004 about a nutritional supplement company called Balco (Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative) and its distribution of performance-enhancing drugs to some of the biggest names in sports. Their articles helped galvanize the national debate about steroids and contributed to the push for Congressional hearings about baseball's drug problems and stepped-up efforts to purge the United States Olympic team of drug cheats.

"Game of Shadows" grew out of that groundbreaking reporting and is based on interviews with more than 200 people and hundreds of pages of documents, including the secret grand jury testimony of Mr. Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and the track star Tim Montgomery; confidential memorandums detailing federal agents' interviews with some of the principal players in the case; and unredacted versions of affidavits filed by the Balco investigators.

When an excerpt from the book dealing with Mr. Bonds appeared in Sports Illustrated two weeks ago, it created a furor, renewing the outrage over steroid use in baseball that had flared a year ago after the publication of Jose Canseco's sensational book, "Juiced." This time, there were calls for more Congressional hearings and demands that Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, appoint an independent investigator to look into allegations made in "Game of Shadows" in particular allegations about Mr. Bonds, who holds the single season home-run record (73) and who, with a career home-run total of 708, is closing in on the sacred numbers of Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755).

Although "Game of Shadows" reprises much of the information contained in the authors' San Francisco Chronicle articles and raises many of the same issues that Howard Bryant's impressive 2005 book, "Juicing the Game," did, it remains necessary reading for anyone concerned with the steroids era in baseball and track and field and its fallout on sports history. More

New Source Rebuke
Thursday, March 23 (Washington Post)ONE MIGHT HOPE that after its rebuke last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Bush administration would reconsider its efforts to rewrite the rules governing power plant emissions. The three-judge panel included two of the court's more liberal judges and one of President Bush's most controversial recent conservative appointees, Janice Rogers Brown.

The panel threw out the Environmental Protection Agency's rule on what is called New Source Review as flatly at odds with the Clean Air Act. Unfortunately, there is no particular reason to expect the administration to come to its senses in response. It is still trying to curtail enforcement against old coal-fired plants that fail to install new pollution-control technologies.

Legally, New Source Review does not pose a hard question. The clean-air law, the relevant part of which was passed in 1977, did not require every plant to immediately retrofit with pollution-control technologies. But it did require that plants install new pollution-fighting equipment when they made "any physical change" that increased pollution output. This law went largely unenforced until the Clinton administration, which filed a number of actions against companies that had not complied. On taking office, the Bush administration -- while not dropping the lawsuits -- tried a different approach: rewriting the rules. More

Sale of Data by Tax Preparers Draws Protests
Thursday, March 23 (Washington Post)Consumer groups and privacy advocates are attacking proposed Internal Revenue Service rules that would spell out how tax-return preparers may legally sell financial information and other data from their clients' returns.

It has long been a principle of tax administration that no unauthorized person can get such information and that this assurance encourages taxpayers to file honest and complete returns. That notion is still a "fundamental underpinning" of IRS practice, Commissioner Mark W. Everson said yesterday in an interview.

An entire industry has mushroomed during the past decade because of the ability of companies to gather and make sense of public records, criminal histories and other electronic details. What are they doing with it?

The proposal, issued in December, was billed by the IRS as improving privacy protections for taxpayers, detailing the steps for getting permission to use the information. But it has focused attention on a little-known fact: Although law forbids the unauthorized disclosure of taxpayer information, return-preparers have long been allowed to disclose it, even sell it, if they obtain their clients' permission. Once the information goes out the door, taxpayers have little control over what happens to it.

The problem, said Evan Hendricks, publisher of the Privacy Times newsletter and other publications on privacy, is that "information about you is valuable in general, and the more detailed . . . it is, the more valuable it is." More

Government Lawyer Subpoenaed in Moussaoui Case
Carla J. Martin Caused Trial Delay After Violating Court Order
Thursday, March 23 (New York Times)A government lawyer whose misconduct threatened to derail the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui has been subpoenaed to testify at a court hearing about her conduct, sources familiar with the Moussaoui case said today.

Carla J. Martin has been told to show up at U.S. District Court in Alexandria Monday morning, said the sources, who requested anonymity because the hearing has not yet been publicly disclosed. It is unclear if Martin will testify or what she might say. Her lawyer did not immediately return telephone calls this morning.

Martin's actions halted testimony in Moussaoui's death penalty trial last week after she violated a court order by sharing testimony and contacting witnesses. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema initially reacted by barring all aviation evidence and witnesses from the case. The aviation evidence is crucial to prosecutors, who are arguing for the execution of the only person convicted in the United States on charges stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. More

Wednsday, March 22
Democrats Must Learn to Make Sense to Voters
Wednesday, March 22 (RealClearPolitics)For the past several months, I and many other political commentators have been speaking of the "lack of new ideas" of the Democrats in their confrontation with President Bush and the Republican Party. The inevitable conclusion most readers might draw from the phrase of a "lack of ideas" is an absence of specific proposals such as viable Social Security reform, new education policies, a breakthrough in health-care delivery, and so forth, as if such specifics could alone solve the Democrats' chronic political problems. There is a reason why nearly everything the Democrats talk about sounds stale, pompously rhetorical and unappealing to most voters other than their relatively small party base.
This is the compulsive Democratic habit to hold on to the assumptions and language of their past. When Democrats attack "big business," and the "interests of the rich," they are merely repeating for the zillionth time a verbal formula that was successfully employed in the 1930s, and last worked effectively in the 1964 presidential election.

When Democrats attack free-trade policies, they assume that employed voters are still the monolith they were up to the 1970s. When Democrats attack tax cuts, they ignore the clear lessons of recent history, beginning with their own icon, President Kennedy (whose tax cuts brought the nation out of recession in 1962). When Democrats propose vast new health-care spending programs, they forget the budget balancing of their last successful president, Bill Clinton, who produced surpluses and reduced the national debt.

In short, the Democrats cannot produce "new ideas" from political content that precludes innovation and problem-solving.

As always, there are exceptions that show a way out of this dilemma. Centrist Democrats, heirs of Mr. Clinton's economic policies, do exist, and express an alternative domestic policy that has huge potential appeal to American voters, particularly independent voters who belong to no party. The administration of Mr. Bush has been "conservative" only in part. Since 2001, the United States has gone from deficit to greater deficit. Not only war spending but domestic spending as well has been unchecked while Republicans controlled not only the White House, but both houses of Congress and a majority of state governments as well. More

Clear and Present Danger
Wednesday, March 22 (NYT/Century Foundation)Alan Brinkley reviews Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (Viking 2006).

Four decades ago, Kevin Phillips, a young political strategist for the Republican Party, began work on what became a remarkable book. In writing "The Emerging Republican Majority" (published in 1969), he asked a very big question about American politics: How would the demographic and economic changes of postwar America shape the long-term future of the two major parties? His answer, startling at the time but now largely unquestioned, is that the movement of people and resources from the old Northern industrial states into the South and the West (an area he enduringly labeled the "Sun Belt") would produce a new and more conservative Republican majority that would dominate American politics for decades. Phillips viewed the changes he predicted with optimism. A stronger Republican Party, he believed, would restore stability and order to a society experiencing disorienting and at times violent change. Shortly before publishing his book, he joined the Nixon administration to help advance the changes he had foreseen.

Phillips has remained a prolific and important political commentator in the decades since, but he long ago abandoned his enthusiasm for the Republican coalition he helped to build. His latest book (his 13th) looks broadly and historically at the political world the conservative coalition has painstakingly constructed over the last several decades. No longer does he see Republican government as a source of stability and order. Instead, he presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness. (His final chapter is entitled "The Erring Republican Majority.") In an era of best-selling jeremiads on both sides of the political divide, "American Theocracy" may be the most alarming analysis of where we are and where we may be going to have appeared in many years. It is not without polemic, but unlike many of the more glib and strident political commentaries of recent years, it is extensively researched and for the most part frighteningly persuasive.

Although Phillips is scathingly critical of what he considers the dangerous policies of the Bush administration, he does not spend much time examining the ideas and behavior of the president and his advisers. Instead, he identifies three broad and related trendsnone of them new to the Bush years but all of them, he believes, exacerbated by this administration's policiesthat together threaten the future of the United States and the world. One is the role of oil in defining and, as Phillips sees it, distorting American foreign and domestic policy. The second is the ominous intrusion of radical Christianity into politics and government. And the third is the astonishing levels of debtcurrent and prospectivethat both the government and the American people have been heedlessly accumulating. If there is a single, if implicit, theme running through the three linked essays that form this book, it is the failure of leaders to look beyond their own and the country's immediate ambitions and desires so as to plan prudently for a darkening future. More

Can Network Theory Thwart Terrorists 
Wednesday, March 22 (NYT/ Century Foundation)Recent debates about the National Security Agency's warrantless-eavesdropping program have produced two very different pictures of the operation. Whereas administration officials describe a carefully aimed "terrorist surveillance program," press reports depict a pervasive electronic net ensnaring thousands of innocent people and few actual terrorists. Could it be that both the administration and its critics are right? One way to reconcile these divergent accountsand explain the administration's decision not to seek warrants for the surveillanceis to examine a new conceptual paradigm that is changing how America's spies pursue terrorists: network theory.

During the last decade, mathematicians, physicists and sociologists have advanced the scientific study of networks, identifying surprising commonalities among the ways airlines route their flights, people interact at cocktail parties and crickets synchronize their chirps. In the increasingly popular language of network theory, individuals are "nodes," and relationships and interactions form the "links" binding them together; by mapping those connections, network scientists try to expose patterns that might not otherwise be apparent. Researchers are applying newly devised algorithms to vast databasesone academic team recently examined the e-mail traffic of 43,000 people at a large university and mapped their social ties. Given the difficulty of identifying elusive terror cells, it was only a matter of time before this new science was discovered by America's spies.

In its simplest form, network theory is about connecting the dots. Stanley Milgram's finding that any two Americans are connected by a mere six intermediariesor "degrees of separation"is one of the animating ideas behind the science of networks; the Notre Dame physicist Albert-Laszlo Barabasi studied one obvious networkthe Internetand found that any two unrelated Web pages are separated by only 19 links. After Sept. 11, Valdis Krebs, a Cleveland consultant who produces social network "maps" for corporate and nonprofit clients, decided to map the hijackers. He started with two of the plotters, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, and, using press accounts, produced a chart of the interconnectionsshared addresses, telephone numbers, even frequent-flier numberswithin the group. All of the 19 hijackers were tied to one another by just a few links, and a disproportionate number of links converged on the leader, Mohamed Atta. Shortly after posting his map online, Krebs was invited to Washington to brief intelligence contractors.

Announced in 2002, Adm. John Poindexter's controversial Total Information Awareness program was an early effort to mine large volumes of data for hidden connections. But even before 9/11, an Army project called Able Danger sought to map Al Qaeda by "identifying linkages and patterns in large volumes of data," and may have succeeded in identifying Atta as a suspect. As if to underline the project's social-network principles, Able Danger analysts called it "the Kevin Bacon game."

Given that the N.S.A. intercepts some 650 million communications worldwide every day, it's not surprising that its analysts focus on a question well suited to network theory: whom should we listen to in the first place? Russell Tice, a former N.S.A. employee who worked on highly classified Special Access Programs, says that analysts start with a suspect and "spider-web" outward, looking at everyone he contacts, and everyone those people contact, until the list includes thousands of names. Officials familiar with the program have said that before individuals are actually wiretapped, computers sort through flows of metadatainformation about who is contacting whom by phone or e-mail. An unclassified National Science Foundation report says that one tool analysts use to sort through all that data is link analysis.

The use of such network-based analysis may explain the administration's decision, shortly after 9/11, to circumvent the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The court grants warrants on a case-by-case basis, authorizing comprehensive surveillance of specific individuals. The N.S.A. program, which enjoys backdoor access to America's major communications switches, appears to do just the opposite: the surveillance is typically much less intrusive than what a FISA warrant would permit, but it involves vast numbers of people.

In some ways, this is much less alarming than old-fashioned wiretapping. A computer that monitors the metadata of your phone calls and e-mail to see if you talk to terrorists will learn less about you than a government agent listening in to the words you speak. The problem is that most of us are connected by two degrees of separation to thousands of people, and by three degrees to hundreds of thousands. This explains reports that the overwhelming number of leads generated by the N.S.A. program have been false positivesinnocent civilians implicated in an ever-expanding associational web.

This has troubling implications for civil liberties. But it also points to a practical obstacle for using link analysis to discover terror networks: information overload. The National Counterterrorism Center's database of suspected terrorists contains 325,000 names; the Congressional Research Service recently found that the N.S.A. is at risk of being drowned in information. Able Danger analysts produced link charts identifying suspected Qaeda figures, but some charts were 20 feet long and covered in small print. If Atta's name was on one of those network maps, it could just as easily illustrate their ineffectiveness as it could their value, because nobody pursued him at the time. More

2:58 pmThoughts on the Illinois Primary

On John Stroger:
Much as I love John Stroger, his time has come. Then he had a stroke, which really means it's time for him to go. Some life events, depending on one's age and physical condition, are uncoded instructions from God to change one's lifestyle. Having a stroke in your 20's is a wake up call. Same goes for people in their 70's. Stroger has served well, quite well. He's old guard, and without them, there's no young turks. Old guard may do things differently, but they're OK people at the core. But for the Cook County Board President, a partially debilitating stroke is a sign to hang it up and retire. Nothing wrong with that, as I'm sure there are plenty of family and friends who'd like to remember the good times and create more.

What I'm hoping, is that Forest Claypool wins. Not out of punishment, or racial unsolidarity. But because there must be a young turk following every successful member of the old guard. Politics is a fickle thing, and it's a tribute to Stroger that he lasted this long. Who's to say Claypool has the staying power for 30 years? He probably doesn't. But what he does have, and is needed now are new ideas and energy based on a familiarity with county government. He's not an outsider who up and decided to run.

My fear is, with members of the old guard not going quietly, we'll see a Machiavellian struggle sprinkled with a little Sheakspeare in a victorious Stroger's fight to nominate one of his own to the Board President position. Stroger's followers are probably less likely to have better ideas, because they've haven't shown any while Stroger's been the man. Perhaps he has groomed an able successor. But I don't think so.

John's done a fine job, much better than those who've said he'd never last 30 years. Hopefully he understands when it's time to let go.

On Tammy Duckworth:
It's shades of 2002. An ex-military amputee takes on a GOP shill. The people of Georgia believed the tratorious, disrespectul, lie-filled Semate campaign that Saxby Chambliss ran against Democrat Max Cleland. They voted Chambliss in, despite an exemplary record of service from Cleland. I truly believe to my bones his decietful campaign is the karmic reason Chambliss developed prostate cancer. You can't morph a picture of a decorated triple-amputee veteran into that of Osama bin Laden and not expect to be punished. You say prostate cancer isn't that bad? First off, you can't get wood while stricken with prostate cancer. That's a big thing, even in this world of Viagra. If the nerves on each side of the prostate were removed during surgery, he has a 20% chance of achieving wood. If he managed to escape nerve damage, he has a 55% chance of not getting wood.

But I"m getting away from Duckworth. I'll bet dollars to donuts the people of Illinois will see a classic GOP hatchet job. Call a soldier a traitor or a coward, and hope the people are too stupid to indict the messenger instead of the target. But if the people of Illinois could see through the clown show that was Alan Keyes' US Senate candidacy, they'll see through through the crap that is modern Republican campaigning.

Monday, March 20
RE: Democratic Targets: 2006
Monday, March 20 (Democracy Corps) have made strong gains since 2004 and currently enjoy an 8-point lead in the vote for Congress over the past two months, but with the partys support at 50 percent, Democrats can clearly do better. Many more voters have been dislodged from the Republicans than have moved to the Democrats.

Democrats need to reach 54 or 55 percent to match the swing that the Republicans achieved in their landslide win in 1994. That is achievable. To determine the voter targets for the Democrats, we combined our four 2006 surveys and looked at four key target audiences:

1. Undecided voters. These are the voters dislodged from the Republicans that Democrats need to win, as well as keeping them from going back to
the Democrats.

2. Winnable voters. These are the voters, not currently supporting the Democrats, but most open to doing so.

3. Change voters. These are voters who want to see significant change from Bushs direction yet who are not now voting Democratic for Congress.

4. Swing voters. These are the voters that have shifted the most since 2004 and who we need to consolidate to make sure they do not switch back.

Our analysis of those target groups leads us to the following priority target audiences for the 2006 election. Some of these have been dislodged from the Republican camp, some are swing groups and some involve consolidation of Democratic base groups. Gains in each of these areas can take the Democrats to a higher level. More

Rewriting the Science
Monday, March 20 (CBS News)Asked if he believes the administration is censoring what he can say to the public, Hansen says: "Or they're censoring whether or not I can say it. I mean, I say what I believe if I'm allowed to say it."

What James Hansen believes is that global warming is accelerating. He points to the melting arctic and to Antarctica, where new data show massive losses of ice to the sea.

Is it fair to say at this point that humans control the climate? Is that possible?

"There's no doubt about that, says Hansen. "The natural changes, the speed of the natural changes is now dwarfed by the changes that humans are making to the atmosphere and to the surface."

Those human changes, he says, are driven by burning fossil fuels that pump out greenhouse gases like CO2, carbon dioxide. Hansen says his research shows that man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming reaches what he calls a tipping point and becomes unstoppable. He says the White House is blocking that message.

"In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," says Hansen.

Restrictions like this e-mail Hansen's institute received from NASA in 2004. "& there is a new review process & ," the e-mail read. "The White House (is) now reviewing all climate related press releases," it continued.

Why the scrutiny of Hansen's work? Well, his Goddard Institute for Space Studies is the source of respected but sobering research on warming. It recently announced 2005 was the warmest year on record. Hansen started at NASA more than 30 years ago, spending nearly all that time studying the earth. How important is his work? 60 Minutes asked someone at the top, Ralph Cicerone, president of the nations leading institute of science, the National Academy of Sciences.

"I can't think of anybody who I would say is better than Hansen. You might argue that there's two or three others as good, but nobody better," says Cicerone.

And Cicerone, whos an atmospheric chemist, said the same thing every leading scientist told 60 Minutes.

"Climate change is really happening," says Cicerone. More

The State of Iraq: An Update
Monday, March 20 (New York Times)AS we reach the third anniversary of the start of the war, the confusion on the ground in Iraq seems to have spread to American generals' public pronouncements. Last Monday, just days after saying that pacification efforts with the Iraqis were going "very, very well," Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an audience that Iraq is "a place that is having some real difficulties right now" and that "everything is in place if they want to have a civil war." Unfortunately, an examination of trends in Iraq backs up General Pace's later, more sober comments.

The country's economy continues to disappoint. Although it had a fairly quick recovery in 2003 and early 2004, when gross domestic product was restored to Saddam Hussein-era levels, violence and instability have prevented much further progress. And while subsidies for gasoline and some other goods, which have been costing the Iraqi government about $10 billion a year, or a third of gross domestic product, have been reduced, projections that the country's economy will grow by 10 percent a year for the rest of the decade look increasingly suspect. Current growth sputters along at less than 5 percent despite sky-high prices for oil exports. Most utilities (except telephones and Internet services) are still performing below Baathist-era levels. Unemployment remains very high. More

Ex-premier: `We are in civil war'
Monday, March 20 (Chicago Tribune)Police found 14 more victims of sectarian score-settling between Sunni Arabs and Shiites on Sunday--men shot with their hands and feet bound and dumped in two Baghdad sewage treatment ponds as the Iraq war entered its fourth year.

Nearly 1,500 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers sought to root out insurgents from farming villages an hour's drive north of the capital, and at least 21 other people died in insurgent and sectarian violence nationwide. More

A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon
Monday, March 20 (New York Times)DURING World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion. The most important quote in it was this: "It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies."

By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.

In the five years Mr. Rumsfeld has presided over the Pentagon, I have seen a climate of groupthink become dominant and a growing reluctance by experienced military men and civilians to challenge the notions of the senior leadership.

I thought we had a glimmer of hope last November when Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced off with Mr. Rumsfeld on the question of how our soldiers should react if they witnessed illegal treatment of prisoners by Iraqi authorities. (General Pace's view was that our soldiers should intervene, while Mr. Rumsfeld's position was that they should simply report the incident to superiors.)

Unfortunately, the general subsequently backed down and supported the secretary's call to have the rules clarified, giving the impression that our senior man in uniform is just as intimidated by Secretary Rumsfeld as was his predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers. More

How to spot a baby conservative
Monday, March 20 (Toronto Star) Whiny children, claims a new study, tend to grow up rigid and traditional. Future liberals, on the other hand ... More

11:29 amDon't Worry, Be Happy

I wonder if Bobby McFerrin is getting a royalty for this stuff. From today's NYT:

On Anniversary, Bush and Cheney See Iraq Success
On the third anniversary of a war that they once expected to be over by now, President Bush and senior officials argued Sunday that their strategy was working despite escalating violence in Iraq, even as a former Iraqi prime minister once favored by the White House declared that a civil war had already started.

Displaying a carefully calibrated mix of optimism about eventual victory and caution about how long American troops would be involved, the officials who marked the day including Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld sounded much as they had on the first anniversary of the invasion. At that time, the rebuilding effort had just begun, the insurgency was far less fierce, and the American occupation had suppressed, temporarily, the sectarian violence scarring Iraq today.

George W. Bush and "Dick" Cheney. Patron saints for men who don't ask questions, for advise, or directions.

Bogus Bush Bashing
Monday, March 20 (New York Times)"The single word most frequently associated with George W. Bush today is 'incompetent,' and close behind are two other increasingly mentioned descriptors: 'idiot' and 'liar.' " So says the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, whose most recent poll found that only 33 percent of the public approves of the job President Bush is doing.

Mr. Bush, of course, bears primary responsibility for the state of his presidency. But there's more going on here than his personal inadequacy; we're looking at the failure of a movement as well as a man. As evidence, consider the fact that most of the conservatives now rushing to distance themselves from Mr. Bush still can't bring themselves to criticize his actual policies. Instead, they accuse him of policy sins in particular, of being a big spender on domestic programs that he has not, in fact, committed.

Before I get to the bogus issue of domestic spending, let's look at the policies the new wave of conservative Bush bashers refuses to criticize.

Mr. Bush's new conservative critics don't say much about the issue that most disturbs the public, the quagmire in Iraq. That's not surprising. Commentators who acted as cheerleaders in the run-up to war, and in many cases questioned the patriotism of those of us who were skeptical, can't criticize the decision to start this war without facing up to their own complicity in that decision.

Nor, after years of insisting that things were going well in Iraq and denouncing anyone who said otherwise, is it easy for them to criticize Mr. Bush's almost surreal bungling of the war. (William Kristol of The Weekly Standard is the exception; he says that we never made a "serious effort" in Iraq, which will come as news to the soldiers.) More

Wednesday, March 15 (I'm BACK!)
1:55 pmMorons

From yesterday's LA Times:

Moussaoui Case Is Latest Misstep in Prosecutions
'There have been a lot of flubs,' a law professor says of the U.S. record in terrorism trials.
The botched handling of witnesses in the sentencing trial of Al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is the latest in a series of missteps and false starts that have beset the Bush administration's prosecution of terrorism cases.

The government has seen juries reject high-profile terrorism charges, judges throw out convictions because of mistakes by the prosecution and the FBI suffer the embarrassment of wrongly accusing an Oregon lawyer of participating in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

On several occasions, top administration officials have promised more than they delivered. For example, then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft announced in 2002 that Jose Padilla, a Bronx-born Muslim, had been arrested on suspicion of "exploring a plan to build and explode a radiological dispersion device, or 'dirty bomb,' in the United States."

Padilla was held nearly four years in a military brig without being charged. This year, as his lawyers appealed his case to the Supreme Court, the administration indicted him in Miami on charges of conspiring to aid terrorists abroad. There was no mention of a "dirty bomb."

In May 2004, the FBI arrested Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer and Muslim convert, saying that his fingerprint was on a bag containing detonators and explosives linked to the Madrid train bombings that had killed 191 people two months before. The former Army officer was held as a material witness even though officials in Spain considered the fingerprint evidence inconclusive.

Mayfield was freed after almost three weeks in custody and received an apology from the FBI, which blamed the misidentification on a substandard digital image from Spanish authorities.

Somebody help me. Whatever happened to that myth of Republican competence? OHit's just a myth. I'm not saying it's easy to prosecute these cases. It's not. But why not do it right the first time? You may lose one, but at least you have the chance to appeal, and won't look so stupid for being so arrogant.

1:45 pmand Idiots

Also, from yesterday's LA Times:

Judge Halts Moussaoui Terror Trial
She calls a government lawyer's coaching of seven witnesses an 'egregious violation.' The death penalty may be ruled out.
The prosecution's carefully laid strategy to secure the death penalty against confessed terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui neared collapse Monday when an incensed federal judge halted his sentencing trial and ordered a hearing to investigate apparent witness tampering by government officials.

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema took under advisement a defense request to drop the death penalty from the case, which would leave life in prison as the only possible sentence.

After four days of testimony in the government's showcase trial growing out of Sept. 11, its prosecution appeared to be unraveling.

"In all the years I have been on the bench," Brinkema told a hushed and crowded courtroom, "I have never seen such an egregious violation."

A judge for 12 years, she called a government lawyer's attempt to shape the testimony of seven key witnesses a "significant error & affecting the constitutional rights of this defendant and, more importantly, the integrity of the criminal justice system in this country."

Moussaoui unexpectedly pleaded guilty last year to capital murder for having a role in the Sept. 11 conspiracy; the government has made it a top priority to win the death penalty under the theory that although he was in jail at the time of the attacks he could have prevented them by telling the FBI about the plot.

Monday's developments marked another major embarrassment in the Justice Department's attempts to prosecute alleged terrorists.

Earlier terrorist convictions in Detroit were set aside because of prosecutorial misconduct. And the sentences imposed in terrorism cases in Buffalo, N.Y., are in jeopardy because of the Bush administration's controversial program of warrantless wiretaps. Prosecutions in Boise, Idaho; Portland, Ore.; and elsewhere have foundered as well.

At issue in the Moussaoui case is the pending testimony of seven Federal Aviation Administration officials who were prepped by a lawyer for the Transportation Safety Administration.

The witnesses are considered crucial to the government's effort to prove that had Moussaoui cooperated with the FBI upon his arrest in August 2001, critical information could have been relayed to the FAA to help stop the Sept. 11 hijackings.

Although some preparation of witnesses is common, Brinkema issued a special order Feb. 22 warning that in the Moussaoui case, witnesses must not be coached and should not be read or provided transcripts of opening statements or testimony of other witnesses.

So we've screwed up the opportunity to execute Moussaoui, the lowest-hanging fruit of the 9/11 conspirators? How inane is that?

Judge Curbs Terror Trial
Wednesday, March 15 (LA Times)She won't allow federal aviation officials to be witnesses in the case against Moussaoui, but will still let prosecutors seek the death penalty.

A federal judge all but gutted the government's death penalty case against admitted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui on Tuesday by ruling that prosecutors could not present any testimony or evidence from aviation officials to show that the Sept. 11 attacks could have been stopped had Moussaoui cooperated with the FBI.

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema stopped short of granting a defense request that the death penalty be dropped as a possible punishment for the 37-year-old Frenchman. But she warned that allegations of government witness tampering had shaken her confidence that Moussaoui could receive a fair trial.

"I don't think in the annals of criminal law that there has ever been a case with this many significant problems," Brinkema said. More

'Cowering' Democrats Scolded
Feingold says his Senate colleagues 'run and hide' rather than back his bid to censure Bush.
Wednesday, March 15 (LA Times)Wisconsin Sen. Russell D. Feingold accused fellow Democrats on Tuesday of cowering rather than joining him in trying to censure President Bush over domestic spying.
"Democrats run and hide" when the administration invokes the war on terrorism, Feingold told reporters. More

A Talk with Sherrod
Representative Sherrod Brown speaks with TAP about his Senate race, Paul Hackett, and how Democrats can discuss cultural issues.
Wednesday, March 15 (The American Prospect)On Friday March 10, the Prospect hosted the second in its series bringing together elected officials and a select group of journalists. The guest was Congressman Sherrod Brown, a Democrat who represents Ohios 13th district, which includes suburban Cleveland and Akron. Brown is a candidate for U.S. Senate this year, running against Republican incumbent Mike DeWine. A recording of the event is available here.

Michael Tomasky: Congressman, thank you for coming.

Sherrod Brown: Its a pleasure to be here among allies and friends and people who generally see the country in an open-minded way, thank you for that. Maria [Leavey, the series coordinator], thank you for having me. Im honored to be here.

Let me talk a little bit about Ohio and the kind of election I think this is going to be and the way I think progressive candidates should begin to approach campaigns like this. I will run a race that you will know from the moment you cover it is a progressive campaign. I never run from the term liberal, but I look at it&to me, theres a major distinction between the terms liberal and progressive and thats why I call myself a progressive. A liberal is someone who supports LIHEAP programs because indigent seniors need help with their home heating bills. A progressive is someone who supports LIHEAP programs to challenge the power companies, and who thinks that sometimes the energy companies are price gouging. A liberal is someone who wants a good Medicare prescription drug benefit, better than the one we have, that really helps seniors and subsidizes seniors prescription drugs, but a progressive is someone who supports those same programs but also wants to challenge the power of the drug and insurance industries. And thats how you will see my campaign this year as it unfolds -- a very populist kind of campaign.

I was in a drugstore the other day -- were doing a series of news conferences around the state on the Medicare Part D bill -- and a probably Republican, I would guess, pharmacist, certainly a conservative guy, said to the assembled group, reporters and others, the President and Congress might as well have handed a blank legal pad to the drug industry and said, Here, write the bill. And thats really the corruption thats so endemic in our political system now. In Ohio, you may know about the Thomas Noe coin scandal and the workers compensation theft and all of that. Thats repulsive enough to the voters, but it really needs to be seen in terms of what it means to injured workers and what it means to employers who have paid into that fund and have trouble competing because they have relatively high employee compensation rates. And so its theft-- its theft from the employer, its theft from the injured worker. More

9:12 amMounting Evidence of a Need to Broom all Dem Incumbents

Imagine you were back in1972 (some of you may or may not, depending on what you wore back then), and a Democrat introduced a measure to censure Richard Nixon. You'd think that something to punish a president clearly flouting the law, but using a tenuous legal defense, would be welcome. You'd think that with crime must come punishment.

Fast forward to yesterday. Today's Democrats don't have the balls to call George W. Bush a criminal for his crime of illegally wiretapping Americans under the guise of "The Long War." From today's Washington Post:

The Feingold Resolution and the Sound of Silence
Democratic senators, filing in for their weekly caucus lunch yesterday, looked as if they'd seen a ghost.

"I haven't read it," demurred Barack Obama (Ill.).

For months the Democrats have resisted calls from their liberal base to more aggressively challenge President Bush. Now a maverick Democratic senator from Wisconsin has forced his party and Congress to confront head-on the question of whether Bush should somehow be punished for secretly ordering...

"I just don't have enough information," protested Ben Nelson (Neb.). "I really can't right now," John Kerry (Mass.) said as he hurried past a knot of reporters -- an excuse that fell apart when Kerry was forced into an awkward wait as Capitol Police stopped an aide at the magnetometer.

Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) brushed past the press pack, shaking her head and waving her hand over her shoulder. When an errant food cart blocked her entrance to the meeting room, she tried to hide from reporters behind the 4-foot-11 Barbara Mikulski (Md.).

"Ask her after lunch," offered Clinton's spokesman, Philippe Reines. But Clinton, with most of her colleagues, fled the lunch out a back door as if escaping a fire.

In a sense, they were. The cause of so much evasion was S. Res. 398, the resolution proposed Monday by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) calling for the censure of President Bush for his warrantless wiretapping program. At a time when Democrats had Bush on the ropes over Iraq, the budget and port security, Feingold single-handedly turned the debate back to an issue where Bush has the advantage -- and drove another wedge through his party.

So nonplused were Democrats that even Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), known for his near-daily news conferences, made history by declaring, "I'm not going to comment." Would he have a comment later? "I dunno," the suddenly shy senator said....

Our representatives don't have the temerity to take on a severely wounded president. A man with no successes, only failures. Who is now too tired to fight claims that he lied to take us to war.

We need to get rid of these cowards and replace them with people who will fight. More importantly, people who will lead.

9:00 amThoughts on Being Back to Work

Man does it suck. I like my job, but I could do with getting paid and skiing for a month or so. Oh well, there's always the lottery....

Friday, March 3 (on vacation next week, be sure to subscribe to to RSS feed for updates from Sun Valley, Idaho)
11:33 amRod Blagovevich: He may be an Idiot, but He's Our Idiot

The Looney Tunes serial called the Governor of Illinois. He swings between decent guy and drooling idiot. Get the drool towel. Below is an idiot moment, from today's Chicago Sun-Times:

No love on gov's hate panel
Gov. Blagojevich's anti-discrimination panel seethed with acrimony Thursday as two leading Jewish members resigned, refusing to serve alongside a Nation of Islam official who was unwilling to condemn controversial remarks by Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Lonnie Nasatir, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, and Richard Hirschhaut, director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, stepped down from the governor's Discrimination and Hate Crimes Commission after Blagojevich refused to oust his embattled appointee, Claudette Marie Johnson.

Also known as Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad, Johnson is the Nation of Islam's minister of protocol who has resisted calls to criticize Farrakhan for his weekend Saviours' Day speech.

At a packed United Center on Sunday, Farrakhan hit "Hollywood Jews" for "promoting lesbianism, homosexuality" and other "filth." He also said conservatives and Zionists manipulated President Bush into war.

Did anyone ask why include a Nation of Islam member on an anti-hate committee? Would anyone ask a Movement Conservative to serve on a committe on religous tolerance? Did anyone expect this bufoonish outcome?
11:30 amIllinois' Liberal Government

Unnecessarily looking out for the little guy. See below, from the Chicago Tribune

Senate rejects bill to open records of vehicle accidents
SPRINGFIELD -- A bill that would have given the public full access to the accident histories of used vehicles in Illinois turned out to be a lemon.

The state Senate voted down the proposal 28-26 yesterday.

Sponsors of the measure argued that Illinois is one of just two states that bar the public release of vehicles' accident records.

They say many car shoppers who look up accident reports on research services such as Carfax don't realize that the report doesn't include any Illinois accidents.

But other lawmakers say they were concerned that opening access to accident records could lead to inaccurate accident reports that could hurt car sales.

Car dealerships lobbied against the measure.

You know, Illinois, being one of the blue state not on the coasts, is a government awash in liberalistic-anti business crap.
State bill proposes Christianity be Missouris official religion
Friday, March 3 (KMOV.com)Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official "majority" religion.
House Concurrent Resolution 13 has is pending in the state legislature.
Many Missouri residents had not heard about the bill until Thursday. More