|Quote of the Moment:|
"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of this land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron H.L. Mencken
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|Monday October 31|
2:01 pmAtrios Would Like to Remind You...
With all of the words of congratulations to Alito, and various assorted puffiness floating around NPR this afternoon, Atrios would like to remind you of this about the nominee's judicial background:
Some More Media Advice
I'm writing this very very slowly so hopefully you'll be able to understand it. When a lower judge follows a clear Supreme Court precedent he or she is not necessarily doing so because he or she thinks that the decision which set the precedent was decided correctly. The cool thing about getting to be on the Supreme Court is that you have a say in what those binding decisions are, and so you have a chance to overturn the stuff you don't like.
Once he's on the bench, he'll be able to make law instead of interpreting it. Don't drink the Kool-Aid and think Alito will be his own man. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you should already be aware of republican word play. "Non-judicial activist" means someone who will interpret the Constitution in the manner of Scalia, Thomas, Janice Brown, and Priscilla Owen.
Why Bush Picked Alito
Burned by the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination, the President goes for an experienced judge who will get strong support from conservatives
Monday, October 31 (Time)When Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. accepted his nomination to the Supreme Court with President Bush standing over his shoulder like a proud father, Alito dropped an unsubtle hint that he will be tough to mess with. "I argued my first case before the Supreme Court in 1982, and I still vividly recall that day," said Alito, who was put on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia, by Bush's father. Underscore "first"; this is a lawyer who's been in the end zone before.
With nomination of Harriet Miers, who had little experience with constitutional law, Bush went for advice that he pick someone from outside the "judicial monastery." This time, the President went with one of the high priests. As assistant to the solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan, Alito argued 12 cases before the Supremes, and has presented at least two dozen before federal courts of appeal. And while a limited paper trail was one of the Democrats' few quibbles with the record of Judge John Roberts as he was being considered for chief justice, Alito has a four-lane highway of writings: opinions on the Commerce Clause; the First Amendment (free speech, establishment clause and free exercise clause); the Fourth, Eighth and Eleventh amendments; and the Fourteenth Amendment (procedural due process and substantive due process). Oh, and then there are his writings on administrative law, criminal law, immigration, the False Claims Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and securities and prison litigation.
The nomination will be seen as a sop to conservatives, but they are thrilled to take it. A memo being circulated among conservatives asserts that Alito "has more federal judicial experience than 105 of the 109 Supreme Court Justices appointed in U.S. history." Progress for America, a self-described independent group that works closely with the White House, planned to have an ad for him on the air within seven hours. At the other end of the spectrum, the liberal People for the American Way said his judicial philosophy "is far to the right." Sen. Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, had a straight face as he called Alito "controversial," and said he has real questions about the judge's record on civil rights, women's rights AND workers' rights. "It's sad that [Bush] felt he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America," Schumer said. "The President seems to want to hunker down in his bunker." Alito is an ardent conservative who will be hard to caricature, but will provide plenty of fodder for an ideological showdown. As a sign of the potential battle ahead, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he wants to ask Alito about abortion. The new justice could become the tie-breaking vote on abortion restrictions. More
Business will support Alito
Corporate America should find some cheer in Alito's strictly conservative judicial philosophy.
Monday, October 31 (CNN Money)Political observers are bracing for a firestorm with President Bush's most recent nomination to the Supreme Court, but business groups are likely to back the candidate hailed for his staunchly conservative record.
Samuel Alito, a federal appeals court judge from Philadelphia, was nominated to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Monday morning -- the third attempt to fill the position after John Roberts was confirmed to replace chief justice William Rehnquist and Harriet Miers withdrew herself from the nomination after Bush's fellow conservatives lambasted the choice.
Unlike Roberts and Miers, who have established reputations as corporate-friendly, Alito is known more for his social rulings than his business record. Still, observers said its unlikely that business groups will view his nomination as anything other than positive.
Judicial philosophy geared more towards business
"Alito's record will bear out that he faithfully interprets the constitution and understands that it comes first and the role of the court should be modest," said Marshall Manson, spokesman for the conservative Coalition for Fair Judiciary. "As businesses look at the court nomination, this philosophy will be key."
And Greg Valliere, chief strategist for Stanford Washington Research Group, added that it's unlikely that Alito would have been nominated if his judicial philosophy wasn't geared towards business interests.
In fact, the White House was reported to have consulted business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, headed by former Michigan governor and Bush friend John Engler, over potential nominations in order to garner support for what many see as an uphill battle to seat a conservative judge to replace moderate O'Connor.
And Alito -- who has been compared to Justice Antonin Scalia and dubbed "Scalito" in honor of those similarities -- has already proven that he falls on the conservative side. More
So I'm listening to NPR this morning and had to suffer through the obligatory puff interview on Bush's new Supreme Court nominee. But it's more important to read his words, as unlike Harriet Miers, he has written some. Overall, I say let the GOP approve this guy. Dems should not help at all. He may not be as incendiary as a Justice Brown, or Priscilla Owen, or Michael Luttig. But never doubt he's conservative and would simply be waiting for the right moment to enact the theocracy, suspend the right to privacy, expand the power of the executive branch, expand the power of big business, and other top 10 items on movement conservatives' list of "must do's before the Rapture."
Here is a link to his writings on his most controversial cases. Download and read the decisions. I'll post them in the CI Archive
I invite you to read them instead of getting caught up in the usual hoopla. And when it comes to that, I believe instead of relying on the tired old defenses and attacks that NARAL, ACLU, and other lefty groups trot out, we should dig a little deeper in our objections. I mentioned the right of privacy earlier. In order to make an abortion ban work, in my opinion, the right to personal privacy must be revoked. The right a person has to control what goes on with her (or his) body , or the right to control things having to do with their person must be taken away. Will a conservative court revoke a portion of the right? They'll try, of course. But the trick to this is what will come back to bite us in the asswhat rights will be peeled away as a result of outlwaing abortion. No lawyer will ignore the precedent in order to prosecute or defend a case or client. It can't live in a vaccuum.
If conservatives sever the right to privacy to a person's body from a person's property, just think what could happen. They could legally ban currently leagal and normal sexual acts between consenting adults or married couples. They could take away your ability to control when you die. They could limit your choices for medical care. There's a lot they could do.
Revoking that right opens up a lot more risk to the average citizen who is law abiding and male. Laws against unlawful search and seizure would lose a major pillar of legal support. So would laws against the use of personal information. Revoking that right to privacy means you can legally be harassed by telemarketers. It means you giving away, without your assent, many of the protections you currently enjoy. That's why Dems should make a bigger issue of privacy that abortion.
The other point to drive home is theocracy. Do we want America to look like Iran or Saudi Arabia? No western country has a national religion. The religious right wants us to be the first. It is no longer a jump for people to believe that George Bush is a puppet for James Dobson or Pat Robertson. After the Miers debacle, these men got what they want. Is that what you want? Is that what we need?
Ed Kilgore has some things to add on the nominee Basically, in nominating Alito, Bush didn't stray too far from his dream judge, Antonin Scalia.
|Friday, October 28|
3:52 pmI Smell Vice Presidential Ass a' Grillin'
From the indictment of Lewis Libby, Chief of Staff for the Vice-President of the United States and Assistant to the President of the United States, page 5, item 9:
"9. On or about June 12,2003,LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA."
So, Libby was the only one indicted today but not for leaking classified information. Rove wasn't indicted, but still remains under investigation. Which tells me this: the question is who told who what . Did Cheney tell Rove aobut Plame? Is that why Rove is still unindicted but still under the heat lamp? Or did Rove tell Cheney? The loser goes to jail, the winner off to a Republican gulag. In a sense it doesn't matter, since the whole affair started either with "Bush's Brain" (Rove) or "Bush's Balls" (just came up woth that monniker for Cheney). Given the one-degree seperation from the president, what then did Bush know? Has Fitzgerald even asked that question? If Bush did know, at what point do either of these men stop taking bullets for him? Will the history of people taking the heat for the Bush clan continue?
Can the president play stupid (stop with the jokes...), claiming he knew nothing of what his two closest advisers did? Will we buy it? Probably not, since that will confirm that Bush is an incompetent idiot. If for some reason we do buy it, then a case can be made that Rove and Cheney ran the country independent of the president and without the consent of the people and congress.
One thing is for sure. With Rove indicted and resigned, we will witness 2 more years of a foundering White House, and perhaps a premature emphasis on the heir to the GOP empire. If it's Cheney indicted, we may have a constitutional crisis as well as an impeachment. If he resigns, I wonder could we try him at a criminal trial?
|Thursday, October 27
2005 CHICAGO WHITE SOX WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION
The White Sox will bring a championship back to 35th Street for the first time in 88 years, and this one will be a worldly affair.
Thursday, October 27 (Chicago Sun-Times)The four-game World Series sweep was not just toasted on the South Side, it was celebrated in Tokyo, Caracas and Havana. There was reason for hugs and handshakes in the Dominican Republic, home to five Sox players. Even the Netherlands can feel good about this one because trainer Herm Schneider was born there and is a veteran of 26 previous seasons, all void of titles.
Venezuela's Freddy Garcia reached down and showed just why he's considered a big-game pitcher as he paced the 1-0 victory Wednesday over the Houston Astros with seven scoreless innings. His outing could've been dedicated to all the great Sox pitchers who never finished a season on top with the club.
Ted Lyons. Billy Pierce. Hoyt Wilhelm. Wilbur Wood. Gary Peters. Jack McDowell. Bobby Thigpen. LaMarr Hoyt. Roberto Hernandez. Jim Kaat.
As far as the Astros are concerned, Sacramento, Calif., native Jermaine Dye is one of the toughest outs in baseball. His third hit of the game was a two-out, eighth-inning single up the middle to score Willie Harris and wrap up the World Series MVP. Dye's clutch performance helped the Sox raise the World Series trophy in the locker room afterward, something that many of the great hitters in franchise history never did in Chicago.
\Dick Allen. Luis Aparicio. Luke Appling. Chico Carrasquel. Carlton Fisk. Nellie Fox. Jim Landis. Sherm Lollar. Bill Melton. Minnie Minoso. Robin Ventura.
And it was all tied together by another Venezuelan in manager Ozzie Guillen, who went from third-base coach of the champion Florida Marlins in 2003 to winning manager of the Sox in 2005. He has been credited with supplying the glue that has kept one of the most cohesive teams in baseball together from Day 1. He ended up taking the Sox where many other team managers failed to go.
Jimmy Dykes. Al Lopez. Tony La Russa. Jerry Manuel. Paul Richards. Chuck Tanner. Kid Gleason. Gene Lamont. Jeff Torborg.
''You know what, we were just trying to win 11 games,'' A.J. Pierzynski said. ''We went 11-1 in the playoffs and won every game on the road, and that's what we did all year. It was only fitting it ended up 1-0. That's the way we started the year [on Opening Day], that's the way we started the second half and that's the way it should have ended.'' More
Telander: 88 years of frustration swept away
"It's not my fault my team is winning so quick,'' a grinning Ozzie Guillen said Wednesday night before Game 4.
Thursday, October 27 (Chicago Sun-Times)No, it's not.
But it is his fault his 2005 team has made Chicago history.
After the World Series-winning game, Ozzie's players were giddy with what their boss had led them to.
"Everyone was included,'' the usually taciturn Carl Everett said. "Not one guy was left out! We played the way a team should play.''
Now 1917 means nothing because of manager Guillen, the unlikely, fast-twitch, "I-never-lie-to-the-media/I-never-lie-to-the-fans'' White Sox manager.
Guillen, of course, is the former All-Star shortstop from Venezuela who couldn't stop talking if you borrowed cork from Sammy Sosa's stash and jammed it in Oz's mouth.
OK, cheap shot at the Cubs. More
Mariotti: Special season changes everything
Thursday, October 27 (ChicagoSun-Times)Just like that, with a tumble and a toss by Juan Uribe, as if 88 years never passed, so ended a city's blind spot, its black hole, its burden of time, an agonizing void that created an inferiority complex in a place inferior to none. What Chicago ever did to suffer almost a century of baseball hopelessness, you'll have to ask the evil spirits or Mrs. O'Leary's cow. But finally, America's most unfulfilled baseball town has the same prize as Boston and, um, Phoenix and Miami.
That would be a 30-pound trophy, made of brass and pewter, with pretty flags.
Behold the city's most special baseball season of our time -- of all time, really. Wrap yourself in glory that might not match the civic totality of the 1985 Bears and the Bulls dynasty, but certainly tops it in South Side precincts. Wednesday night, the White Sox won the friggin' World Series. Not only is this tantamount to sushi bars replacing deep-dish parlors, this also has legions of grown men crying, wishing their fathers and grandfathers could see what the impossible looks like.
One of those fighting tears was Jerry Reinsdorf, who stood in the Sox clubhouse with his longtime friend and partner in crime, Bud Selig, and accepted the trophy. Have I sparred with Reinsdorf through the years? Yes. Was I happy the man finally won? Yes. "Twenty-five years ago, you got me into this game,'' he said to Selig on the podium. "And most of those of those 25 years, I asked you why. I'll never ask you again.
"This is for all the fans in Chicago -- South Side, North Side, West Side. I hope it's not a dream when I wake up in the morning.''
Morning has broken. The headlines say the Sox swept the Houston Astros More
|Thursday, October 27|
Noe indicted for laundering money to Bush campaign
Thursday, October 27 (Toledo Blade)A federal grand jury has indicted Tom Noe the former Toledo-area coin dealer at the center of a state investment scandal on three counts for allegedly laundering money into President Bushs re-election campaign.
The three-count indictment says that beginning in October 2003, Mr. Noe contributed to President Bushs election campaign over and above the limits established by the Federal Election Campaign Act."
He did so, according to the indictment, in order to fulfill his pledge to raise $50,000 for a Bush-Cheney fund-raiser held in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 30, 2003, Gregory White, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced at an afternoon news conference
The two other counts were for conspiracy and filing false statements. More
What It's Like
By Paul Begala
From: TPMCafe Special Guests
Thursday, October 27 (TPM Cafe)Tom Petty was wrong. The waiting is not the hardest part.
Sure, all of what Eric Alterman dubbed "the punditocracy" has a severe case of indictus interruptus, but for President Bush and his White House staff, the worst is yet to come. To be sure, waiting on a decision to indict is an exquisite form of torture. But what lies ahead is worse. If special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald does choose to indict one or more senior Bush White House officials, they will be the first top White House aides to be indicted in a decade and a half.
This is when a White House staffer earns his pay. The pressure of a federal criminal investigation - especially one in the media spotlight - is bone-crushing. My guess is that the strain is taking a gruesome toll. Already we hear rumors of President Bush exploding at his aides, at the President blaming Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, and anyone else in sight for his woes.
This I know first hand: when The Boss explodes like that, there are two kinds of aides -- those who fight and those who flee. When he came to Washington, Mr. Bush surrounded himself with tough-minded people who seemed not to be afraid to stand up to him. But now his team is loaded with weak-kneed toadies, and Mr. Bush is home alone. Karl Rove, of course, is fending off a potential indictment. His prodigious brain has not entertained another thought in months. (That's why, I suspect, some months back Rove popped off and said liberals wanted to give terrorists psychotherapy after 9/11. It was a loopy, stupid, and distinctly un-Rovian, meltdown - the first public sign that the pressure was causing Karl to crack.) More
Miers Failed to Win Support of Key Senators and Conservatives
Thursday, October 27 (New York Times)Harriet E. Miers withdrew her nomination for the Supreme Court this morning after her selection by President Bush led to criticism from both conservatives and liberals.
In recent days, several prominent members of the Republican Party had begun to publicly question Ms. Miers's nomination, suggesting was not conservative enough on issues such as abortion. Others, including Democrats and Republicans, have questioned Ms. Miers's lack of judicial experience since her nomination was announced on Oct. 3.
Democratic senators had also sought White House documents from Ms. Miers, who is the White House counsel, that might have given clues to her judicial philosophy.
Concern among conservatives over her views on abortion and judicial philosophy heightened on Wednesday when The Washington Post reported that Ms. Miers, in a 1993 speech in Dallas, spoke approvingly about a trend toward "self-determination" in resolving debates about law and religion, including those involving abortion rights and religion in public schools and public places.
In a statement today, President Bush said he had "reluctantly" accepted her decision to withdraw.
"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure as the White House - disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," Mr. Bush said in the statement. More
|Wednesday, October 26|
America in 2020
The chair of the DLC's American Dream Initiative has an optimistic vision of the not-too-distant future.
By Hillary Rodham Clinton
Wednesday, October 26 (Blueprint Magazine)I am honored to accept Governor Vilsack's challenge to lead the American Dream Initiative for the DLC, because its mission goes to the heart of why I am a senator and what I believe about public service: that we are here to leave our children a richer, safer, smarter, and stronger land than the one we inherited from our parents, and that tomorrow can be better than today if we work together seeking common ground, standing on common values, and moving forward. Today I would like to begin my new assignment by painting my own portrait ofthe American dream.
Now, to do so we have to take a time machine into the future, to July 25th, 2020. Now, we've come back to Columbus, Ohio, in 2020 with clearer vision for our country -- 20/20 vision. Ohio is back in the Democratic column, as it should be. And the first thing we notice about America in 2020 is that it is a safer place. We are better protected against terror here at home and more capable of defeating it wherever it exists, with a unified, coherent strategy focused on eliminating terrorists wherever we find them, improving homeland defense, and delivering a message of hope and freedom that is far more compelling than the terrorist celebration of chaos and death.
Now, we worked hard for years to secure our country in a host of wise ways. In 2020, America is safer because we have invested more in protecting our borders, hardening nuclear, chemical, and other sensitive sites, inspecting more cargo and aircraft and ships, securing mass transit, making sure that mayors like Columbus Mayor Coleman and our police andfirefighters and emergency services have not only the resources, but the training and equipment that they need. We've put more troops in uniform, we've equipped them better, and we've trained them to face today's stress, not yesterday's. We've actually recognized that having the strongest military in the world is the first step, but we also have to have a strong commitment to using our military in smart ways that further peace, stability, and security around the world. I was talking to Mayor Coleman, whose son is currently with the Marines in Iraq, and I told him that I'd spent a lot of time talking to young Marines and soldiers both in Iraq, where I've been twice, and back home, and listened to them. There has never been a better generation of young people who are volunteering and committing themselves to serve our nation. We have to make sure that we do everything possible to give them the resources, the respect, and the strategy they deserve. More
America Can Do Better
By Al From and Bruce Reed
Wednesdyay, October 26 (Blueprint Magazine)Hurricane Katrina exposed the Bush administration's failures of competence and ideology. Democrats must now offer a clear and confident vision for the future.
Like the floodwaters, the pain of Hurricane Katrina will begin to recede, the damage done. People will put their lives back togetherand the Gulf region will rebuild. But in the grim aftermath of the worst natural disaster in our history -- and the biggest bureaucratic one -- we must face the harsh reality that in the past few years, we have become far less than the great nation we should be. America can do better.
Katrina uncovered a host of vulnerabilities that had been hidden in plain view. Four years after 9/11, we should be ready to meet any threat, not be slow in response and inept in execution. Our country is supposed to be the land of opportunity, not desperation; a society that longs to be united, not divided; the nation where people have always come to get ahead, not be left behind.
The United States is the greatest nation on Earth. We're a nation that learns from its mistakes, not one that denies them or keeps making them. Yet today, America has a homeland defense that is based on bureaucracy, not security; an economic agenda that replaced the upward mobility of the last decade with four straight years of rising poverty in this one; social policies that divide the country over ideology instead of uniting Americans by making real progress on their problems; and a corrupt political culture that consistently protects its own interests, even as it consistently fails to protect the American people.
As if each of those problems weren't trouble enough, the national government's latest catastrophic failure deals another blow to one of America's greatest assets -- our can-do spirit. The Bush administration could not have prevented the natural disaster of Katrina, but it could have prevented the man-made disaster of its response to Katrina.
In the 20th century, the United States defeated fascism and communism, dominated the global economy, and created the largest middle class the world has ever known. So far, in the 21st century, we've been attacked by terrorists on our own soil, failed to win the war on terror, lost momentum in Iraq, gone deep into debt to our greatest economic competitor, and watched household incomes stagnate for four straight years for the first time on record. More
5:36pmIt Would Make a Great Movie, But it's True and People are Getting Blown to Bits
I'm sure most to all of you are aware that the link between the Italian report on Saddam's puported yellowcake purchases and the White House Iraq Group is now being investigated by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. It's really causing a stink in the White House. For the first time someone with the power to indict, who's also immune to the Republican Slime Machine, is getting to the bottom of Bush's claim that Saddam was looking to buy the essential ingredients for an atomic bomb.
You can read the translated series of reports, appearing in la Repubblica here, here, and here. Check it out. It sounds like a mix between John LeCarre, Ridley Scott, and Tom Clancy. Too bad it's true, and a couple of hundred people a month get killed.
It is becoming crystal-clear that America was lied to. The number of people that believe the war was the right thing to do has recently overtaken the number of people who think it was the wrong thing. That the lies behind the forged yellowcake, aluminum tubes, etc. are now being fully investigated will only intensify the vortex that's pulling the administration of George W. Bush down the drain. Depending upon the indictments, and the reaction to the inevitable report, we may have a constitutional crisis on our hands. We may see a Republican congress be forced to put a sitting president and vice-president on trial for impeachment.
If Bush was aware that the foundation of his justification for war was false, and that the VP was complicit in this knowledge, I can't see how Congress could avoid an impeachment trial. First and foremost because it would be the first time a President willfully lied to prompt the country into a war of choice. This isn't pre-WWII America, and Bush is in no way FDR. The bogeymen of the Neocons is not as clear and present a danger as Hitler, Mussolini, and General Tojo.
If it becomes clear that impeachment is the only fitting punishment for this crime (I'm sure someone will make a fairly good case for murder, genocide, and crimes against humanity) then a Republican Congress must impeach. Not doing so is risking a swift and lasting public rebuke of the Republican Party. They've already dropped the ball on the long-forgotten House and Senate investigations that were supposed to get to the "truth." We're past the point of investigation. If, given the evidence, they don't vote to impeach, as I said before the republic will rebuke them. The last one they endured took them down for almost 20 years. But even that muddies the morality lesson in this. Ironically, it's something you'd think this batch of GOP'ers could understand, given their constant chest-thumping on how close they are with God. Morally, this country is at it's lowest. These are the works of men who publicly stated they were here to bring dignity to Washington.
But this ain't Monicagate. This is a real crime.
Here is the crime in outing of CIA agent
by Gary Hart, for the Denver Post
Wednesday, October 26 (Denver Post)It is now fashionable among columnists supporting the Bush administration, New York Times journalist Judith Miller, Robert Novak and the increasing network of senior administration officials implicated in the Valerie Plame Wilson outing to say, "So what? Where's the crime?"
The federal statute making it a criminal penalty to knowingly divulge the identity of anyone working undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency was not enacted in a vacuum. In the early 1970s, in part as a result of the radicalization of individuals and groups over the Vietnam War, a former CIA employee named Philip Agee wrote a book revealing the identities of several dozen CIA employees, many under deep cover and some including agency station chiefs in foreign capitals.
Many of the countries in which those CIA employees were working themselves had extremely radical and violent elements stirred to hatred over their opposition to America's conduct in the Vietnam War. So, by revealing their identities, Agee had knowingly and willingly placed these American citizens at risk. Violent consequences were predictable.
Richard Welch, a brilliant Harvard-educated classicist, had been stationed in Greece as CIA station chief only a few months before he was murdered, by a radical Greek terrorist organization called the 17th of November, in the doorway of his house in Athens on Dec. 23, 1975. Had Agee not divulged his name, there is every reason to believe that Welch would be alive today after decades of loyal service to his country. More
|Tuesday, October 25|
CIA Leak Linked to Dispute Over Iraq Policy
As Grand Jury Term Nears End, Officials' Critique of Administration Gains Attention
Tuesday, October 25 (Washington Post)The alleged leaking of a CIA operative's name had its roots in a clash over Iraq policy between White House insiders and their rivals in the permanent bureaucracy of Washington, especially in the State Department and the CIA.
As the investigation into the leak reaches its expected climax this week with the expiration of the grand jury's term, the internal disputes have been further amplified by a recent string of speeches and interviews criticizing the administration's handling of Iraq, including by former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and State Department diplomats, and other officials involved in the early efforts to stabilize Iraq.
(key paragraph)...A top State Department official involved in Iraq policy, former ambassador Robin Raphel, said the administration was "not prepared" when it invaded Iraq, but did so anyway in part because of "clear political pressure, election driven and calendar driven," according to an oral history interview posted on the Web site of the congressionally funded U.S. Institute of Peace. More
Ed note: Raphael's interview can be found here. The entire set of interviews can be found here
|Monday, October 24|
Walker's World: Bush at bay
Monday, October 24 (UPI)The CIA leak inquiry that threatens senior White House aides has now widened to include the forgery of documents on African uranium that started the investigation, according to NAT0 intelligence sources.
This suggests the inquiry by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the leaking of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame has now widened to embrace part of the broader question about the way the Iraq war was justified by the Bush administration.
Fitzgerald's inquiry is expected to conclude this week and despite feverish speculation in Washington, there have been no leaks about his decision whether to issue indictments and against whom and on what charges.
Two facts are, however, now known and between them they do not bode well for the deputy chief of staff at the White House, Karl Rove, President George W Bush's senior political aide, not for Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
The first is that Fitzgerald last year sought and obtained from the Justice Department permission to widen his investigation from the leak itself to the possibility of cover-ups, perjury and obstruction of justice by witnesses. This has renewed the old saying from the days of the Watergate scandal, that the cover-up can be more legally and politically dangerous than the crime.
The second is that NATO sources have confirmed to United Press International that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.
Fitzgerald's team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair, which started when an Italian journalist obtained documents that appeared to show officials of the government of Niger helping to supply the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein with Yellowcake uranium. This claim, which made its way into President Bush's State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was later withdrawn by the White House.
This opens the door to what has always been the most serious implication of the CIA leak case, that the Bush administration could face a brutally damaging and public inquiry into the case for war against Iraq being false or artificially exaggerated. This was the same charge that imperiled the government of Bush's closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, after a BBC Radio program claimed Blair's aides has "sexed up" the evidence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
There can be few more serious charges against a government than going to war on false pretences, or having deliberately inflated or suppressed the evidence that justified the war. More
Letters Show Frist Notified Of Stocks in 'Blind' Trusts
Documents Contradict Comments on Holdings
Monday, October 24 (Washington Post)Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was given considerable information about his stake in his family's hospital company, according to records that are at odds with his past statements that he did not know what was in his stock holdings.
Managers of the trusts that Frist once described as "totally blind," regularly informed him when they added new shares of HCA Inc. or other assets to his holdings, according to the documents.
Since 2001, the trustees have written to Frist and the Senate 15 times detailing the sale of assets from or the contribution of assets to trusts of Frist and his family. The letters included notice of the addition of HCA shares worth $500,000 to $1 million in 2001 and HCA stock worth $750,000 to $1.5 million in 2002. The trust agreements require the trustees to inform Frist and the Senate whenever assets are added or sold.
The letters seem to undermine one of the major arguments the senator has used throughout his political career to rebut criticism of his ownership in HCA: that the stock was held in blind trusts beyond his control and that he had little idea of the extent of those holdings More
Outspoken Ben Bernanke is shaking up the Federal Reserve
Monday, October 24 (US News & World Report)As a graduate student in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1970s, Federal Reserve governor Ben Bernanke was obsessed with two of the 20th century's biggest sources of misery: the Great Depression and the Boston Red Sox. "I missed a lot of classes my first fall at MIT because of the Boston-Cincinnati World Series," he says. The BoSox lost and have brought Bernanke mostly sorrow since. "I've been trying to wean myself from them since 1986," the year of their heartbreaking series defeat to the Mets, he says. The Depression, on the other hand, has been propelling Bernanke's career and shaping his thinking for nearly three decades.
Bernanke's thinking matters a great deal these days. Tapped by the White House in August 2002 to fill an unexpired term on the central bank's governing board, the Princeton University economist couldn't have been appointed at a more pivotal time. As a leading monetary policy scholar and now the resident intellectual at the Fed, Bernanke and his innovations on fine-tuning the economy will be important to maintaining the momentum of a still uncertain recovery while remaining ever vigilant for signs of overheating. At the same time, with job gains anemic and a presidential election looming, Bernanke and his fellow policymakers will find themselves under enormous pressure to keep the stimulus throttle open.
(key paragraphs)...The world got its first glimpse of Bernanke's economic acuity in 1983 when, while he was an associate professor of economics at Stanford's business school, the American Economic Review (a journal that later appointed him editor) published his groundbreaking paper on the Depression. Before, economists laid all the blame for the stagnation of the 1930s on the Fed for letting the money supply fall in the face of the banking panic that followed the 1929 stock market crash. But Bernanke's research concretely linked the Depression's severity to a seizing-up of the financial system. "Ben redirected people's attention back to the problem of defaulting loans and bonds and the resulting inability of financial institutions to move credit from lenders to borrowers," says Harvard University monetary policy expert Benjamin Friedman.
Analyzing the Depression etched into Bernanke's economic soul a deep and abiding respect for the dangers of deflation, a general decline in prices that can lead to a downward spiral of production cutbacks and rising unemployment, as happened in the United States in the 1930s and more recently in Japan. Bernanke continued to quench his thirst for Depression-era wisdom at Princeton University, where he served in the economics department from 1985 (the last seven years as chairman) until his Fed appointment. He's widely credited with attracting even more impressive talent to the Princeton faculty. More
11:20 amPaul Krugman on Ben Barnanke
The Greenspan Successor
Alan Greenspan is expected to retire next year. The Bush administration, because of its nature, will have a hard time finding a successor.
One Fed chairman famously described his job as being to "take away the punch bowl just when the party gets going." Bond and currency markets want monetary policy in the hands of someone who will say no to politicians. When a country's central banker is suspected of having insufficient spine, the result is higher interest rates and a weaker currency.
Today it's even more crucial than usual that the Fed chairman have the markets' trust. The United States is running record budget and trade deficits, and the foreigners we depend on to cover those deficits are losing faith. According to yesterday's Financial Times, central banks around the world have already started shifting into euros. If Mr. Greenspan is replaced with someone who looks like a partisan hack, capital will rush to the exits, the dollar will plunge, and interest rates will soar.
Yet President Bush, as you may have noticed, only appoints yes-men (or yes-women). This is most obvious on the national security front, but it's equally true with regard to economic policy. The current Treasury secretary has no obvious qualifications other than loyalty. The new head of the National Economic Council apparently got the job because he is a Bush classmate and fund-raiser.
Of course, Mr. Greenspan himself has become a Bush yes-man. The chairman acted as a stern father figure, demanding fiscal rectitude, when Democrats held the White House. But he turned into an indulgent uncle when Mr. Bush took office. First, he urged Congress to cut taxes in order, he said, to prevent an excessively large budget surplus. Then, when surpluses were replaced by huge deficits, he supported a highly irresponsible second round of tax cuts.
Nonetheless, Mr. Greenspan retains considerable credibility with the markets. Who else can satisfy both Mr. Bush and foreign investors?
11:12 amBrad DeLong on Ben Bernanke
Ben Bernanke Goes to Crawford
Ben Bernanke reports on what he said to Bush. He apparently failed to stress two important things:
1. Bush administration fiscal policy is way out of balance in the long run, and this is a very serious problem: if the government doesn't balance its budget (in the sense of keeping real debt growing no faster than real GDP), then the market will balance the budget for it in ways that nobody will like.
2. Bush administration international economic policy is way out of balance as well: the administration should be doing much more than it is doing--i.e., nothing--to try to minimize the size of the financial crisis should foreigners suddenly decide to dump their dollar assets on a large scale.
These are two things that George W. Bush and his inner circle need to hear as often as possible. And I'm scared that nobody is telling them.
Brad also wrote this about Ben
The Scary Side of Ben Bernanke
Bush should look elsewhere when Greenspan steps down.
Monday, October 24 (National Review Online)Last Fridays Wall Street Journal reported that Larry Lindsey has been added to President Bushs short list of potential replacements for Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve. Martin Feldstein, Glenn Hubbard, and Ben Bernanke are the other three most prominently mentioned, with Bernanke the front runner on Tradesports.com.
Bernanke recently weighed in with his opinions on the economy in the Journal, and while he lauded tax cuts, free trade, and legal reform, a supply-sider he is not. His views on how tax cuts impact the economy, his odd interest in demand charts, and not to mention his discredited beliefs about limits to growth and full employment, should have Bush supporters concerned.
About taxes, Bernanke spoke of fiscal stimulus that has diminished in the past few quarters. Bernanke is clearly in the Keynesian camp on taxes, holding that they should be reduced during times of slack demand and increased when economic growth reaches its natural limits. While Keynesians see tax cuts through a demand-driven, short-term stimulus prism in which their impact gradually recedes, supply-siders encourage marginal rate cuts for their long-term (and continuous) incentive effects on economic activity. The distinction between the two schools of thought is crucial, particularly given the growing influence of the Fed on Capitol Hill.
Moving to the economic impact of demand, Bernanke asked how much demand in the latest quarter appears to have been satisfied out of inventories rather than from new production. But supply-siders dont even consider this they dont because they know that products are ultimately bought with other products. Demand will always exist, as human wants are unlimited. But what Bernanke deems demand is in fact producers offering up their surpluses for those of others. In the supply-side model, what Bernanke sees as a fall in aggregate demand is in fact a fall in production something supply-siders agree results from governmental meddling along the lines of excessive taxation, regulation, and unstable money. More
Ed note: is the enemy of my enemy my friend? That would be one way of looking at it. But since this guy is now Chairman of the Fed, it would be much more prudent to think of him in reality-based ways.
|Friday, October 21|
10:16 amThe Non-Issue that is Liberal Hawk Support for the Iraq War
I read the first few paragraphs of this piece in the American Prospect online version. So much ink has been wasted chronicling this split between liberals versus liberal hawks when it comes to Iraq. It's more a matter of the peacenik wing of the Democratic party getting back at liberal hawks for being right about Afghanistan. Liberals forget, perhaps intentionally, to handicap for the lies the administration spun in order to sell the war. Liberal hawks, instead of rightly blaming the Bush administration, unsuccessfully try to justify their support.
I am a liberal hawk. I was lied to by the Bushies. Everything about it felt bad, but I supported the decision just in case there was something to what they said they knew. I didn't factor for their willingness to lie and decieve in order to settle an old score. I didn't factor in the fact that they were perfectly willing to send American kids to their deaths to prove a world-view hypothesis.
I had seen people like this in the movies, but never figured they'd end up running the country. I was wrong.
Liberal peaceniks need to remember that there are justifiable reasons to go to war, or use military power. Liberal hawks need to remember the Iraq lesson in that there are people more than willing to misuse their prediliction for strength. Both need to remember that diplomacy and peaceful options must be pursued in a practical way before we start re-deploying aircraft carriers. I understand that "practical" is a big word now; but when you're in the situation, a "practical" path is usually much easier to identify.
Can we get past this? I'd like to stomp the Movement Conservatives in the next couple of elections. All this bickering is as useful as playing with your belly button.
Cover-Up Issue Is Seen as Focus in Leak Inquiry
Friday, October 21 (New York Times)As he weighs whether to bring criminal charges in the C.I.A. leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, is focusing on whether Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, sought to conceal their actions and mislead prosecutors, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.
Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement - counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.
Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.
With the term of the grand jury expiring in one week, though, some lawyers in the case said they were persuaded that Mr. Fitzgerald had all but made up his mind to seek indictments. None of the lawyers would speak on the record, citing the prosecutor's requests not to talk about the case.
Associates of Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby continued to express hope that the prosecutor would conclude that the evidence was too fragmentary and that it would be difficult to prove Mr. Rove or Mr. Libby had a clear-cut intention to misinform the grand jury. Lawyers for the two men declined to comment on their legal status. More
|Thursday, October 20|
WEIGHING THE UNIQUENESS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATIONS NATIONAL SECURITY DECISION-MAKING PROCESS: BOON OR DANGER TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY?
REMARKS BY COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, USA (RET.) FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 2002-2005
Thursday, October 20 (The Washington Note)"...There are all kinds of problems that need to be dealt with and we are not going to make it into the 21st century very far and keep our power intact and our powder dry if we dont start to deal with this need to change the decision-making process, and an understanding of that need, which, for whatever reason, intuitive or intellectual I dont know, Ill give credit to the Bush administration for, by suddenly concentrating power in one tiny little aspect of the federal government and letting that little cabal make the decisions. Thats not a recipe for success. Its a recipe for good decision-making in terms of the speed and alacrity with which you can make decisions, of course. Harlan and I can sit down and we can make a decision probably a lot faster than all of you and me can make a decision, but if all of you bring something to the fight and will be integral in the implementation of the decision Im going to make, and if you know some things I dont know and you might dissent because of those things you know, I damn well better listen to you, and I better figure out a way to get all of you to work together if we finally come to a decision and we decide to implement that. I better know how to get you to work together.
That is not what this administration did for four years. Instead it made decisions in secret, and now I think it is paying the consequences of having made those decisions in secret. But far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences. You and I and every other citizen like us is paying the consequences, whether it is a response to Katrina that was less than adequate certainly, or whether it is the situation in Iraq, which still goes unexplained. You know, if I had the time I could stand up here today I think and make a strategic case for why we are in Iraq and why we have to stay there and we have to get it right. As Winston Churchill said, America will always do the right thing, after exhausting all other possibilities. (Laughter.) Well, we need to get busy and exhaust them and do the right thing.
We cant leave Iraq. We simply cant. I can make that case. No one in this administration has made that case. They have simply pontificated. Thats all theyve done. Now, Im not evaluating the decision to go to war. Thats a different matter. But were there, weve done it, and we cannot leave. I would submit to you that if we leave precipitously or we leave in a way that doesnt leave something there we can trust, if we do that, we will mobilize the nation, put 5 million men and women under arms and go back and take the Middle East within a decade. Thats what well have to do. So why not get it right now? Why not get it right now? I dont see any signs, other than signs of desperation that is to say, the polls are falling, people are finally listening, to a certain extent, to the evidence thats building up, and so people are getting desperate. And so Dr. Rice gets some more flexibility, some more leeway, and we do this and we do that; that looks diplomatic. But I dont see anything that looks coordinated because I think the decisions are still being made essentially in that small group.
And Ill finish just by bringing it down screechingly to the ground and tell you that the detainee abuse issue is just such a concrete example of what Ive just described to you, that 10 years from now or so when its really, really put to the acid test, ironed out and people have looked at it from every angle, we are going to be ashamed of what we allowed to happen. I dont know how many people saw the Frontline documentary last night very well done, I thought, but didnt get anywhere near the specifics that need to be shown, that need to come out, that need to say to the American people, this is not us, this is not the way we do business in the world. Of course we have criminals, of course we have people who violate the law of war, of course we had My Lai, of course we had problems in the Korean War and in World War II. My father-in-law was involved in the Malmédy massacre and the retaliation of U.S. troops in Belgium. He told me some stories before he died that made my blood curdle about American troops killing Germans." More Video link here
DeLay Appears in Houston for Booking
Thursday, October 20 (Washington Post)Rep. Tom DeLay turned himself Thursday in at the Harris County sheriff's office, where he was photographed, fingerprinted and released on bond on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.
"He posted $10,000 bond and they have left the bonding office," Lt. John Martin with the sheriff's department said.
DeLay, accompanied by his attorney, Dick DeGuerin, showed up about 12:15 p.m., appeared before a judge and was gone in less than 30 minutes, Martin said.
The appearance came a day after a state court issued an arrest warrant for DeLay and set an initial bail, a routine step before the Texas Republican's first court appearance Friday in Austin. More
Rove Told Jury Libby May Have Been His Source In Leak Case
Top Aides Talked Before Plame's Name Was Public
Thursday, October 20 (Washington Post)White House adviser Karl Rove told the grand jury in the CIA leak case that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, may have told him that CIA operative Valerie Plame worked for the intelligence agency before her identity was revealed, a source familiar with Rove's account said yesterday.
In a talk that took place in the days before Plame's CIA employment was revealed in 2003, Rove and Libby discussed conversations they had had with reporters in which Plame and her marriage to Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV were raised, the source said. Rove told the grand jury the talk was confined to information the two men heard from reporters, the source said. More
FEMA official says boss ignored warnings
Thursday, October 20 (Boston Globe)Federal Emergency Management Agency officials did not respond to repeated warnings about deteriorating conditions in New Orleans and the dire need for help as Hurricane Katrina struck, the first FEMA official to arrive conceded Thursday.
Marty Bahamonde, a FEMA regional director, told a Senate panel investigating the government's response to the disaster that he gave regular updates to people in contact with then-FEMA Director Michael Brown as early as Aug. 28, one day before Katrina made landfall. In most cases, he was met with silence. In an Aug. 29 phone call to Brown informing him that the first levee had broke, Bahamonde said he received a polite thank you from Brown, who said he would check with the White House.
"I think there was a systematic failure at all levels of government to understand the magnitude of the situation," Bahamonde said. More
Ed note: excerpts from Bahamonde's emails are here
|Tuesday, October 18|
White House Watch: Cheney resignation rumors fly
Tuesday, October 18 (US News & World Reports)Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. More
Cheney Aide Cooperating with CIA Outing Probe, Sources Say
Tuesday, October 18 (The Raw Story)A senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, sources close to the investigation say.
Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald's case tell Raw Story that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald's probe. More
Miers Backed Abortion Ban in 1989
Tuesday, October 18 (Washington Post)Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers agreed in 1989 that she would "actively support" a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban abortion except when necessary to prevent the death of the mother.
Miers indicated her support for a "Human Life Amendment" on an April 1989 questionnaire she filled out for Texans United for Life when she was a candidate for the Dallas City Council. The document, which has been submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, was first reported today by the Associated Press.
On that form, she also said she would oppose the use of public funds for abortion and use her influence to keep "pro-abortion" people off of city boards and commissions dealing with health issues. She qualified her answer regarding boards and commissions by adding the words, "to the extent Pro-Life views are relevant." More
|Monday, October 17|
In Praise of Nepotism?
By Sean Gonsalves, AlterNet
Monday, October 17 (AlterNet)Given the criticism over President Bush picking his personal lawyer to fill the shoes of Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S Supreme Court, the word for this week is "nepotism."
Nepotism is defined by Webster's as "favoritism shown by persons in high office to relatives or close friends, esp. in granting jobs."
And it's as American as jazz and baseball to publicly denounce instances of nepotism, sometimes couching the criticism in high-sounding "meritocracy" rhetoric.
But, if you read Adam Bellow's interesting book "In Praise of Nepotism," you'll never think about the issue the same way again. Or at the very least, you'll have to refine your arguments against it.
Bellow delves into the history of family dynasties "from King David to George W. Bush." What I like most about the book is how it exposes the dishonesty of those who selectively rail against the persistent social habit.
Many Americans see nepotism as a way for the rich to protect their privilege at the expense of the less affluent. And many, if not most, black Americans see the practice as evidence of racism, Bellow acknowledges. However (and black folks should chew on this for a while) Bellow points to an observation made by economist Matthew Goldberg. "Racial nepotism, rather than racial animus (hatred), is the major motivation for much of the discrimination blacks experience." More
12:42 pmRevolt in the Heartlands
From the Decatur Daily Democrat, Decatur, IN. Despite the name, Decatur or Indiana is no real home to fuzzy liberal politics. So when I read the following, I figure the lunatics must be running the asylum. Obviously the doctors are not there to enforce message disipline:
Spoiling the poor
Along the Gulf Coast, many evacuees hit by Katrina and Rita are still living in shelters, waiting for the temporary housing that President Bush promised by Saturday. Despite Mr. Bush's continued displays of concern including a nationally televised moment this week helping volunteers build a home for a Louisiana family displaced by Katrina there is still an enormous disconnect between what's needed in the storm-devastated Gulf areas and what's happening in Washington, where Republicans in Congress want to ax programs for low-income people while fiercely guarding tax cuts for the rich.
The notion of giving a break to affluent taxpayers across the nation on the assumption that it will produce jobs for those who are down on their luck in the Gulf region is more than highly suspect. If this were really about helping workers, then why did Mr. Bush move so quickly to allow federally financed construction projects in storm-affected areas to pay less than prevailing local wages? If the tax cuts have been so effective in stimulating the economy, then why have deficits ballooned and the poverty rate increased?
Wow, pretty heady stuff from my Hoosier brethren. If the people in Decatur understand the Bush tax cuts haven't worked, how difficult will it be for the GOP to come in the same old way in 2008?
Let me say it again: this administration is giving supply-siders the opportunity to determine, once and forever, whether or not their economics works. We are about to go into Year 5 of massive tax cuts to the rich. These cuts were supposed to drive an explosion in employment, because for 20 years they told us rich people would use the money to create jobs. This in turn would jump-start economic growth, and the resultant tax revenues would decrease the federal defecit. So far, the only thing to occur has been the tax cuts.
When the experiment is publicly shown to be a failure, which ought to be between the '06 and '08 elections, look for conservative backpedaling for at least 5 years.
Bush Is in No Hurry on Katrina Recovery
The president's go-slow approach is called a recipe for chaos, even by fellow Republicans.
Monday, October 17 (LA Times) Almost two months after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and a month after promising in a nationally televised speech to help rebuild the region "quickly," President Bush has settled on a cautious, piecemeal approach that even many members of his own party fear will stall reconstruction and sow economic disarray.
Bush has made highly publicized trips to Louisiana and Mississippi on average of once a week since the storm, but the administration has yet to introduce legislation for two of the three proposals the president highlighted during his September speech from New Orleans.
In the case of the third proposal, $5,000 accounts to help workers left unemployed by the hurricane, an administration-drafted House bill would provide aid for fewer than a quarter of the jobless.
Despite mounting evidence that Washington is having trouble putting to use most of the $62 billion in emergency funds approved by Congress so far, the president has resisted appointing a recovery coordinator or further detailing his vision of how to tackle rebuilding. In interviews last week, he explained that he wanted state and local officials to act first. More
Prof Speaks at 'Intelligent Design' Trial
Monday, October 17 (Guardian Unlimited) Evolutionary theory should be taught to science students, but it alone cannot explain complex biological phenomenon, said a biochemistry professor who is a leading advocate of ``intelligent design.''
Lehigh University Professor Michael Behe was the first witness called by a school board that is requiring students to hear a statement about the intelligent design concept in biology class. Lawyers for the Dover Area School Board began presenting their case Monday in the landmark federal trial, which could decide whether it can be mentioned in public school science classes as an alternative to the theory of evolution.
Behe, whose work includes a 1996 best-seller called ``Darwin's Black Box,'' said students should be taught evolution because it's widely used in science and that ``any well-educated student should understand it.''
Behe, however, argues that evolution cannot fully explain the biological complexities of life, suggesting the work of an intelligent force. More
White House prepares for possible indictments
Monday, October 17 (FT.com)The White House is bracing itself for the possible indictment of senior officials as Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, prepares to wrap up his two-year inquiry into the leaking of a covert CIA agent's name.
Further details about the role of White House officials were underlined in a report in the New York Times on Sunday.
Judith Miller, the reporter released from jail after 85 days after she agreed to testify before a grand jury, gave an account of her conversations with Scooter Libby, chief of staff to Dick Cheney, vice-president. She also admitted that Mr Fitzgerald had asked whether Mr Cheney had personally authorised Mr Libby to speak.
In a more ominous sign, Ms Miller said Mr Fitzgerald's questions went beyond the leaking of the CIA name to probe the administration's selective leaking of intelligence information ahead of the Iraq war. During the hearing, she said he repeatedly asked how Mr Libby handled classified information and showed her some documents. More
Rove's Contingency Plan
The President's adviser may step aside if indicted in the Valerie Plame case
Monday, October 17 (Time)Karl Rove has a plan, as always. Even before testifying last week for the fourth time before a grand jury probing the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, Bush senior adviser Rove and others at the White House had concluded that if indicted he would immediately resign or possibly go on unpaid leave, several legal and Administration sources familiar with the thinking told TIME.
Resignation is the much more likely scenario, they say. The same would apply to I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the Vice President's chief of staff, who also faces a possible indictment. A former White House official says Rove's break with Bush would have to be cleanno "giving advice from the sidelines"for the sake of the Administration.
Severing his ties would allow Rovewho as deputy chief of staff runs a vast swath of the West Wingto fight aggressively "any bull___ charges," says a source close to Rove, like allegations that he was part of a broad conspiracy to discredit Plame's husband Joseph Wilson. Rove's defense: whatever he did fell far short of that. More
Get It Together, Democrats
Monday, October 17 (New York Times)A word of caution: Democrats should think twice before getting all giddy about the problems caving in on the Republicans and the prospects of regaining control of Congress in next year's elections.
For one thing, the Democrats' own house is hardly in order. While recent polls have shown growing disenchantment with President Bush and the G.O.P., there's no evidence that voters have suddenly become thrilled with the Democrats.
A survey taken by the Pew Research Center showed an abysmal 32 percent approval rating for Democratic leaders in Congress.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Congressional redistricting (anti-democratic in every sense of the word) has made it more difficult to oust incumbents. It would take a landslide of shocking proportions for the Democrats to win control of both houses of Congress next fall. More
At Clinic, Hurdles to Clear Before Medicaid Care
Monday, October 17 (New York Times)Atop a rise on Burnside Avenue in the Bronx, the Morris Heights Health Center looms above a bustling stretch of storefronts offering arroz con pollo and cheap clothes. The clinic is a crucial medical safety net for tens of thousands of people, many of them struggling.
It is a place of solace and deliverance and, just as often, futility and frustration, much of it linked to Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor.
Every day, the clinic sees patients like Crystal T. Shuler, a single mother who has been a Medicaid client several times - and has seen her insurance cut off just as often, for reasons she does not grasp. She comes to Morris Heights, pregnant and without care for months, to make her third recent attempt to enroll. Her first application was rejected for minor mistakes; on her second try, she did not have all the documents she needed to satisfy New York State.
There are also people like Ronald Shinnery, asthmatic and struggling for breath, who embodies an uncomfortable reality for Morris Heights and other communities served by Medicaid: He can be his own worst enemy, ignoring basic paperwork until, for the second time, his insurance expires and his medicine runs out.
Dr. Tomasz Howard's examination of a fifth-grade girl lays bare another chronic problem. He has to explain to her parents that she has an irregular heartbeat, but cannot see a cardiac specialist for almost half a year. New York pays specialists poorly to participate in Medicaid, and many refuse Medicaid patients.
Sixteen months spent inside Morris Heights, listening to patients, clerks, nurses, doctors and administrators, provides a stark education in Medicaid as it is lived at coarse, unpredictable ground level. Those months illuminate Medicaid's sprawling good works, and how they are undermined by inscrutable rules, daunting paperwork, human frailties and, plainly, the puzzling ways New York spends the program's billions of dollars. More
|Friday, October 14|
'Worst thing' in science education
Professor picks apart Dover district statement
Friday, October 14 (York Dispatch) Two plus two equals four.
Professor Brian Alters said most scientists have the same level of confidence in the occurrence of evolution as they do in that simple mathematics equation.
But a teacher should be respectful to a student whose religion says two plus two equals five, he testified yesterday in Dover's intelligent design trial in U.S. Middle District Court in Harrisburg.
An expert on teaching science and evolution, Alters teaches at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and directs the university's Evolution Education Research Centre.
Alters used the example of math to explain how science teachers should deal with possible religious questions spurred by talk of evolution.
He testified that Dover's statement about intelligent design is basically a way of making two plus two equal five in the high school's biology classes.
"It (evolution) is a fact because the confidence level is so high there is no debate" over its validity in the scientific community, he said.
But the one-minute statement, read to students by administrators, degrades the standing of the theory of evolution and singles it out as flawed science, he testified. More
Kansas Senator, Looking at Presidential Bid, Makes Faith the Bedrock of Campaign
Friday, October 14 (New York Times)After testing his stump speech on Tuesday night, Senator Sam Brownback rose early on Wednesday for a tour of the cavernous chapel and regimental dining hall used by the 30 remaining Benedictine monks of St. Anselm's abbey.
"I wondered if the numbers were starting to tick up?" Mr. Brownback asked hopefully of the monastery's population.
"It is more of a trickle than a stream," said the Rev. Jonathan DeFelice, president of St. Anselm College, noting that there were more than 70 monks when he arrived 30 years ago.
Mr. Brownback, an evangelical-Protestant-turned-Roman Catholic from Kansas who attends services in the two faiths each Sunday and once washed an aide's feet in a gesture of humble devotion, is contemplating a big bet on a resurgence in traditionalist faith that he hoped to find in the monastery's numbers.
He came here to assess the potential for a Republican presidential primary campaign centered on opposition to abortion and support for God in public life, while back in Washington his current role as the Republican most publicly questioning the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers is becoming the first big test of his long-shot campaign.
"The thought does come into my mind," Mr. Brownback, 49, conceded with a furrowed brow in an interview. "But then I really work at saying: 'No, this is not about that. This is about what is good for the country. This is not about presidential ambitions. More
Ed Note: this reminds me of the quote "they came again, in the same old way." The religious right needs their own candidates; people more brazen and not bound by "codes" like Bush. Then, as a nation we can decide whether we buy their divisive, intrusive, hateful religious theocracy or not.
Friday, October 14 (American Journalism Review)The levees broke and the city joined the sea, and the cameras bore witness and the ink-stained scribblers rose up from a vale of troubles to chronicle the days of the fearful and the forgotten.
In this era of blogs, pundits and shouted arguments, the coming of Katrina reunited the people and the reporters. In a time of travail, parts of the media landscape that had seemed faded, yea, even discarded, now felt true.
The hurricane that laid waste to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast hit the land and its people with Biblical force, sending us in search of ancient verities: We needed to see for ourselves. We had to hear the stories of the people. We wanted to know what had happened.
So as the summer of 2005 came to a violent end, journalism journeyed back, setting aside for a few days the allure of the Internet and the promise of a nation of citizen reporters. Once again, we understood the power of mass media, the shared experience of a nation gathering in its living rooms to see momentous events on television, to feel the satisfaction of reading a newspaper's first shot at making sense of difficult and complex times. Web, schmeb: Without electricity, those who lived in the path of Hurricane Katrina depended on old battery-powered radios and whatever newspaper they could borrow for a few minutes from the guy in the next cot.
Katrina, however briefly, took us back to a simpler time. Audiences for the cable news channels tripled and more, but their combined numbers couldn't come close to those of any one of the old broadcast networks. The Internet would come to play an essential and innovative role in bringing people together, but only in the second phase of the coverage. Those first days were a time for intrepid TV cameramen to take us into the stench and the sweat, the anger and the not knowing, the fear of those who seemed abandoned by their own country. Those first days were a time for newspapers to put aside jitters about their declining importance and worries about layoffs and cutbacks. The old papers instead reasserted the comfort and utility of news you could hold in your hand. More
8:25 amAmen Brudduh Krugman
Today's column in the NYT is alone worth the price of Times Select.
Questions of Character
George W. Bush, I once wrote, "values loyalty above expertise" and may have "a preference for advisers whose personal fortunes are almost entirely bound up with his own." And he likes to surround himself with "obsequious courtiers."
Lots of people are saying things like that these days. But those quotes are from a column published on Nov. 19, 2000.
I don't believe that I'm any better than the average person at judging other people's character. I got it right because I said those things in the context of a discussion of Mr. Bush's choice of economic advisers, a subject in which I do have some expertise.
But many people in the news media do claim, at least implicitly, to be experts at discerning character - and their judgments play a large, sometimes decisive role in our political life. The 2000 election would have ended in a chad-proof victory for Al Gore if many reporters hadn't taken a dislike to Mr. Gore, while portraying Mr. Bush as an honest, likable guy. The 2004 election was largely decided by the image of Mr. Bush as a strong, effective leader.
So it's important to ask why those judgments are often so wrong.
Krugman goes on to exviscerate current media practices of putting presidential candidates in a box and trying hard to to connect their policies with their manufactured personnas. Will we have to suffer through another election of seeing reporters not calling liars liars? Will we suffer through another potential candidate, who never having made a success of much in life, being positioned as the perfect man to lead the Free World? Average intellects do not make good presidents. We understand that now, as we're suffering through one. Politics at all costs political gurus do not make good public policy, as we now see the results of that.
Krugman makes an excellent point in that all of these glaring problems with the Bushies have been in plain view for the past 6 years. But reporters and editors have consiously chosen not to cover them. Some of the reasons have been out of fear of retribution. But others are simple laziness and incuriosness.
|Tuesday, October 11|
The Politics of Polarization
Tuesday, October 11 (Third Way Middle Class Project)What is equally striking about the politics of polarization is that a strong plurality of Americans continue to associate themselves with the moderate center of the political spectrum. In fact, the politics of polarization is occurring against a backdrop of sustained ideological stability. In 2004, the electorate was 21 percent liberal, 34 percent conservative and 45 percent moderate. That is practically a carbon copy of the average over the past thirty years 20 percent liberal, 33 percent conservative, and 47 percent moderatewith remarkably little variation from election to election.
This phenomenon has several significant ramifications that we discuss in this paper. First, our politics is more polarized than the people themselves. Thus, a system of polarized parties does not provide a natural home for the plurality of Americans who define themselves as moderates. Indeed, it leaves them feeling frustrated, unrepresented, and alienated from political life. Second, this polarization creates substantial distance between the political parties (and governmental institutions) and the people. Many Americans do not want to choose between a vigorous economy and a strong safety net, between individual liberty and national security, between social tolerance and moral tradition, or between military strength and international cooperation, and they resent a politics that forces them to do so. More
Frist Accumulated Stock Outside Trusts
Tuesday October 11 (ABC News) Outside the blind trusts he created to avoid a conflict of interest, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist earned tens of thousands of dollars from stock in a family-founded hospital chain largely controlled by his brother, documents show.
The Tennessee Republican, whose sale this summer of HCA Inc. stock is under federal investigation, has long maintained he could own HCA shares and still vote on health care legislation without a conflict because he had placed the stock in blind trusts approved by the Senate.
However, ethics experts say a partnership arrangement shown in documents obtained by The Associated Press raises serious doubts about whether the senator truly avoided a conflict. More
Welcome to the Hackocracy
Tuesday, October 11 (The New Republic)The events of the past months have awakened the press to the true nature of the Bush administration. It is overrun with hacks--that is, government officials with waifish resumés padded like the Michelin man, whose political connections have won them important national responsibilities. But, in the face of this rush to flay the Bush hacks, we should consider their achievements.
To fully appreciate the virtues of this administration, we must first recall the administration that came before. Back in the 1990s, Bill Clinton recruited a small army of Arkansans and Rhodes scholars to the West Wing. Although there was the occasional kindergarten buddy who was out of his depth, most of these FOBs (friends of Bill) were insufferable wonks who never let you forget their dense resumés. President Bush put his finger on the smug mindset of these Clinton meritocrats when he said, "They're all of a sudden smarter than the average person because they happen to have an Ivy League degree."
Now we can consider this problem solved. The Bush era has taken government out of the hands of the hyper-qualified and given it back to the common man. This new breed may not have what the credentialists sneeringly call "relevant experience." Their alma maters may not always be "accredited." But they have something the intellectual snobs of yore never had: loyalty. If not loyalty to country, then at least loyalty to party and to the guy who got them the job. And their loyalty has been rewarded: Even if they fail, they know they can move up the chain until they find a job they can succeed in or until a major American city is destroyed, whichever comes first.
The hackocracy, of course, reflects the virtues of its architect, George W. Bush. Like Michael Brown and lesser known hacks, the president hasn't allowed personal setbacks to stymie him. The old-fashioned values of fortitude and family have given him the strength to rebound from a doomed oil company called Arbusto, a doomed congressional candidacy, and catastrophic failures at Harken Energy. That may be why, while cronies populate every presidency, no administration has etched the principles of hackocracy into its governing philosophy as deeply as this one. If there's an underappreciated corner of the bureaucracy to fill, it has found just the crony (or college roommate of a crony), party operative (or cousin of a party operative) to fill it. To honor this achievement, we've drawn up a list of the 15 biggest Bush administration hacks--from the highest levels of government to the civil servant rank and file. The tnr 15 is a diverse group--from the assistant secretary of commerce who started his career by supplying Bush with Altoids to the Republican National Committee chair-turned-Veterans Affairs secretary who forgot about wounded Iraq war vets--but they all share two things: responsibility and inexperience. More
Ed note: Compare the above to the solid qualifications of members of the Clinton cabinet.
11:44 amMy Question to My Friend Mr. Pence from Indiana....
Allright, it is kind of piling on, but after I read this quote from Rep. Mike Pence, I have to ask:
"Indeed, even as he was calling for deep spending cuts last week, Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, who leads the conservative caucus, called tax reductions for the prosperous a key to fighting poverty."
None of what Republicans promised would happen with the three Bush tax cuts has come to pass. We don't have employment growing at 300,000 jobs a month. The economy is not back to where it was in the 90's. We have more poor people than ever. And your cuts have left us with more debt in the history of the republic. Absent cutting Social Security, there's not enough domestic spending to offset the defecit. So do you propose we cut all domestic spending other than Social Security?
None of your promises have come true, unless you're rich. Why should we believe what you say anymore?
My question aside, the articlegoes on in a hopeful way:
"Raising taxes in the wake of a national catastrophe would imperil the very economic growth we need to bring the Gulf Coast back," Mr. Pence said. "I'm mindful of what a pipe fitter once said to President Reagan: 'I've never been hired by a poor man.' A growing economy is in the interest of every working American, regardless of their income."
Economic growth is crucial to reducing poverty, but the effect of tax rates is less clear. In 1993, President Bill Clinton raised taxes on upper-income families, the economy boomed and poverty fell for the next seven years. In 2001, President Bush cut taxes deeply, but even with economic growth, the poverty rate has risen every year since.
Perhaps the press is coming out of their intellectual hibernation?
|Monday, October 10|
Endorsement of Nominee Draws Committee's Interest
Monday, October 10 (New York Times) Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and several Democrats on the committee said Sunday that they were considering calling the evangelical conservative James C. Dobson to testify on what he has been told about Harriet E. Miers, the president's Supreme Court nominee.
"If Dr. Dobson knows something that he shouldn't know or something that I ought to know, I'm going to find out," Mr. Specter said Sunday in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program "This Week."
In response to a later question, Mr. Specter added, "If there are back-room assurances and if there are back-room deals and if there is something which bears upon a precondition as to how a nominee is going to vote, I think that's a matter that ought to be known by the Judiciary Committee and the American people."
Mr. Dobson, the influential founder of the conservative evangelical group Focus on the Family, has said he is supporting Ms. Miers's nomination in part because of something he has been told but cannot divulge. He has not disclosed the source of the information, but he has acknowledged speaking with Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, about the president's pick before it was announced.
On his radio program last Wednesday, Mr. Dobson said, "When you know some of the things that I know - that I probably shouldn't know - you will understand why I have said, with fear and trepidation, that I believe Harriet Miers will be a good justice." He added, in a reference to aborted fetuses, "if I have made a mistake here, I will never forget the blood of those babies that will die will be on my hands to some degree." More
Suite deal for hotel investors
Monday, October 10 (Chicago Sun Times) Investors in a luxury hotel developed by Republican power broker William Cellini have benefitted from more than $1.8 billion in state deals despite failing to pay off a taxpayer-backed construction loan for the hotel.
Of 85 original investors in the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield, the Chicago Sun-Times found seven who either own or help lead firms with state contracts.
To top it all off, in a town with more than 30 hotels, the state has done substantial business directly with the President Abraham Lincoln, spending more than $975,000 since 2001 to book rooms for traveling state workers and to host conferences or training seminars, records show.
Since loan repayments are required only when the hotel makes money, under a controversial 1991 pact with the state, Cellini and his fellow investors have made just two quarterly loan payments since 2001 totaling $143,000. The loan for $15.5 million in 1982 has nearly doubled in size as interest grows at a whopping rate of $70,000 a month. More
Will Bush Deliver?
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Monday, October 10 (New York Times)Ever since President Bush promised to rebuild the Gulf Coast in "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen," many people have asked how he plans to pay for that effort. But looking at what has (and hasn't) happened since he gave that speech, I'm starting to wonder whether they're asking the right question. How sure are we that large-scale federal aid for post-Katrina reconstruction will really materialize?
Bear with me while I make the case for doubting whether Mr. Bush will make good on his promise.
First, Mr. Bush already has a record of trying to renege on pledges to a stricken city. After 9/11 he made big promises to New York. But as soon as his bullhorn moment was past, officials began trying to wriggle out of his pledge. By early 2002 his budget director was accusing New York's elected representatives, who wanted to know what had happened to the promised aid, of engaging in a "money-grubbing game." It's not clear how much federal help the city has actually received.
With that precedent in mind, consider this: Congress has just gone on recess. By the time it returns, seven weeks will have passed since the levees broke. And the administration has spent much of that time blocking efforts to aid Katrina's victims.
I'm not sure why the news media haven't made more of the White House role in stalling a bipartisan bill that would have extended Medicaid coverage to all low-income hurricane victims - some of whom, according to surveys, can't afford needed medicine. The White House has also insisted that disaster loans to local governments, many of which no longer have a tax base, be made with the cruel and unusual provision that these loans cannot be forgiven. More
|Thursday, October 6|
5:13 pmSince Nature Abhors a Vaccuum....
George Bush, exploiting a hole opened up by the neocons, officially fills the post-Cold War void with a new bogeyman:
Bush Likens War on Terrorism to Cold War
"Like the ideaology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its' leaders pretend to be an aggrived party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies," the president said. "...Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent."
It's official. The Cold War is over, to be replaced by the "War on Terra." Everyone laid off by the Cold War has a job again. New salary indexed to current cost of living. The military-industrial complex is jubilant. And right now, somewhere, Joe McCarthy is tearing up.
BBC will report Bush told Palestinian leaders that God told him to end tyranny in Iraq
Thursday, October 6 (RawStory.com)President George W. Bush allegedly told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, the BBC will report in a program slotted to run Oct. 17, RAW STORY can reveal.
The BBC errantly posted a press release link on their website early, revealing the documentary's contents.
In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday Oct. 10, Monday Oct. 17 and Monday Oct. 24 British time), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003 to BBC reporters.
Foreign Minister Shaath declares: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq &" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'" More
High fuel prices to persist says US energy chief
Thursday, October 6 (Financial Times)Higher energy costs exacerbated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could persist for several years, Samuel Bodman, US energy secretary, warned on Wednesday.
Mr Bodman told a meeting of reporters: Both oil and natural gas availability have been severely impaired and the effects of this will reverberate through the economy of this country for some time. The main thing that US citizens can do is conserve. We simply have to do it.
He predicted that conservation could make a major dent in demand. More
8:44 amLet's Not Forget About the Legacy of George W. Bush
Long after the troops have come home, and Movement Conservatives have been shown to the intellecual bankruptcies they are, we'll have the debt of George W. Bush to look back upon. And cry.
Tax-Cut and Spend Republicans
Thursday, October 6 (Washington Post)As Republicans celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Contract With America, where is the zeal for smaller government that was such a central aspect of the 1994 Republican Revolution?
In the five years he has been in office, President Bush and the GOP-led Congress have added $1.5 trillion and counting to the federal debt they inherited after Bill Clinton left office. Even many of today's conservative pundits and activists are questioning the party's priorities.
But does the president deserve all the blame?
With a large number of Republicans left over from the 1994 revolution, what happened to the zeal for reining in spending?
In a story that ran in The Washington Post in 2000 during the election, Dan Balz and I wrote that Bush was staking ground as a new kind of Republican, "a tax-cut and spend" politician.
Bush's approach has always been more about political strategy than governing philosophy. In other words, it's a way to win elections. After getting a scare in the 1998 midterms, in which Republicans failed to expand their majority, even amid the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, many Republicans bought into the Bush-Rove strategy for expanding the party's power.
In the 2000 election, Bush proposed cutting taxes; he also proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in new government spending without outlining a major spending cut. And he's largely kept that promise as president.
Cutting taxes is popular. But cutting programs to help balance those cuts is not. Combining the two -- tax cuts and spending increases -- is a prescription for victory and potentially political longevity, even it means running up huge deficits and exploding the federal debt. Why? Because most people could care less about the federal deficit -- a fact that many polls have confirmed over the years. Most people assume, hey, what's a little debt? I've got credit card bills up to my eyeballs -- at least the government can print money. More
Customs Pick Faces a New Hurdle on Hill
Thursday, October 6 (Washington Post)Julie L. Myers, nominated to be assistant secretary of homeland security in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is scheduled for a confirmation vote Friday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
On Tuesday, however, four Judiciary Committee members asked Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) for shared jurisdiction, adding a new hurdle for Myers.
They noted that ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security and promised to "expeditiously consider" Myers's nomination.
A spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), chairman of Judiciary's immigration subcommittee, called the request for a hearing a jurisdictional matter. But another aide said doubt over Myers's qualifications "is something that's on [senators'] radar," in the wake of the ouster of Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown.
At a Sept. 25 hearing, several senators questioned Myers, 36, about her management background, and Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) told her that her résumé indicated she was not qualified. Voinovich has since offered his support, however. More
Ed Note: So does George Voinovich have any cojones? If you recall the John Bolton hearings, Voinovich said Bolton was the wrong man to represent the US at the United Nations, but voted for him anyway. In his personal life, would Voinovich object to an unqualified doctor, but agree to see the physician anyway? Would he give his money to an unqalified investment broker? What's with him?
Conservatives Confront Bush Aides
Anger Over Nomination of Miers Boils Over During Private Meetings
Thursday, October 6 (Washington Post)The conservative uprising against President Bush escalated yesterday as Republican activists angry over his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court confronted the president's envoys during a pair of tense closed-door meetings.
A day after Bush publicly beseeched skeptical supporters to trust his judgment on Miers, a succession of prominent conservative leaders told his representatives that they did not. Over the course of several hours of sometimes testy exchanges, the dissenters complained that Miers was an unknown quantity with a thin résumé and that her selection -- Bush called her "the best person I could find" -- was a betrayal of years of struggle to move the court to the right.
Leaders Who Won't Choose
In Washington, it's business as usual in the face of a national catastrophe.
Thursday, October 6 (FareedZakaria.com)Adversity builds character," goes the old adage. Except that in America today we seem to be following the opposite principle. The worse things get, the more frivolous our response. President Bush explains that he will spend hundreds of billions of dollars rebuilding the Gulf Coast without raising any new revenues. Republican leader Tom DeLay declines any spending cuts because "there is no fat left to cut in the federal budget."
This would be funny if it weren't so depressing. What is happening in Washington today is business as usual in the face of a national catastrophe. The scariest part is that we've been here before. After 9/11 we have created a new government agency, massively increased domestic spending and fought two wars. And the president did all this without rolling back any of his tax cutsin fact, he expanded themand refused to veto a single congressional spending bill. This was possible because Bush inherited a huge budget surplus in 2000. But that's all gone. The cupboard is now bare.
Whatever his other accomplishments, Bush will go down in history as the most fiscally irresponsible chief executive in American history. Since 2001, government spending has gone up from $1.86 trillion to $2.48 trillion, a 33 percent rise in four years! Defense and Homeland Security are not the only culprits. Domestic spending is actually up 36 percent in the same period. These figures come from the libertarian Cato Institute's excellent report "The Grand Old Spending Party," which explains that "throughout the past 40 years, most presidents have cut or restrained lower-priority spending to make room for higher-priority spending. What is driving George W. Bush's budget bloat is a reversal of that trend." To govern is to choose. And Bush has decided not to choose. He wants guns and butter and tax cuts. More
The Germans: A Lot Like Us
Last year Germany became the world's No. 1 exporter, larger even than America, despite the fact that the U.S. economy is five times as big.
By Fareed Zakaria
Thursday, October 6 (FareedZakaria.com)German voters have spoken. "We don't want to become Americans." That's how a senior German politician explained the recent election to me. And it's the conventional interpretation. Germans are said to have rejected the Christian Democrats' program of economic reform. And they did this despite overwhelming evidence-extremely low growth and high unemployment-that the economy needs restructuring. (Anything can be discredited these days by attaching the label "American" to it.) Reformist voices are quiet, and anti-globalization forces are gleeful. But the latter should put away their party hats. Germany is changing, and it will change no matter what the new government looks like.
It is strange to call this a vote against reform. Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats ran on the most explicitly market-oriented platform in their party's history, promising painful medicine. With their coalition partners, they received 45 percent of the vote. This was unexpectedly low for them, but still, it represented a large part of the country. Merkel's coalition partners in the Free Democratic Party, with an even stronger free-market agenda, jumped to one of their best results ever. But perhaps the main reason the election cannot be seen as anti-reform is that the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, who received 42 percent of the vote, are the parties that, just two years ago, put through the country's most comprehensive economic-reform program in 40 years. That program has its problems, it is not nearly enough, but the fact remains that this was more reform than in any major European country in a decade. The SPD campaign posters read creating jobs requires the courage to reform. Merkel's posters said germany needs change. Between them, the two got more than 70 percent of the vote. Does that sound like a mandate against reform?
The real story in Germany is that despite the noisy surface battles, there is a growing pragmatic consensus among political elites. Compare Germany with France. In Germany, both parties have serious reform proposals, and one has carried out some of these. There are numerous think tanks that explain why such reforms are necessary. A large part of the German press and business elite supports them vocally. None of this is true of France. There is more serious discussion about economic reform in one month in Germany than there is in one year in France. More
|Monday, October 3|
The Ponzi Victims Catch On
Monday, October 3 (The Decebmrist)The reaction from the right to the Miers nomination should be a reminder of just why the Rove strategy of playing to the hard-right base is such a dangerous and unwise political choice: There's no turning back from it. It's like a Ponzi scheme, you have to continually borrow new money/enthusiasm to pay off the old, and you can never turn back. You can never decide to turn your Ponzi scheme into an ordinary business, because you're in too deep. And that's exactly what's happening on the right: they have been continually promised that the big payoff would come with a Supreme Court nominee to replace O'Connor, and instead they get a giant, "Trust me, it'll work out," at just the moment when "trust me" won't work anymore.
And like any Ponzi scheme, when it collapses, the collapse is total, and absolute. (By the way, I had written this before Ed Kilgore weighed in with his "balloon-mortgage" metaphor. Choose the metaphor that works for you.)
It's too early to make predictions about how this will play out in the Senate. This is someone who's never held a Senate-confirmed position and has no judicial record whatsoever. I'll get to Democrats in a minute, but there have to be some real questions about what Republicans will do. Remember, the 2008 presidential campaign has already begun. If you're a potential candidate like Senator Brownback, and you see this anger in the base, it is a golden opportunity to make some allies. And if Brownback turns on Miers, what are George Allen and Rick Santorum supposed to do? You could see the beginnings of significant bipartisan opposition to Miers, in which case the nomination would have to be withdrawn, even if it's not clear that the opposition would reach the 40-vote level. More
FAILING TO DELIVER:
Administrations Medicaid Waiver Policy Excludes Many Katrina Survivors and Provides No Guarantee of Full Federal Financing
Monday, October 3 (Cernter on Budget and Policy Priorities)The Administration has come out against bipartisan Senate legislation (S. 1716) introduced by Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) that would provide temporary, fully federally funded Medicaid coverage to low-income survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Despite the endorsement of the National Governors Association, the support of Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Bill Frist and Harry Reid when the legislation was introduced, and the support of numerous health care provider groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association and of charities like the Red Cross, Senators Grassley and Baucus have been unable to bring the legislation to a vote on the Senate floor. Several Senators are blocking the legislation.
The Administrations opposition appears to be a key factor in preventing Senate consideration of the legislation, which enjoys widespread Senate support and almost certainly would pass by an overwhelming margin if brought to a vote. Various news accounts report that the Administration has been working against the bill, and HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt has now sent a letter to Congressional leaders objecting to the bill.
While acknowledging that Medicaid is an appropriate vehicle to provide essential health care services to low-income Katrina survivors over the next several months, the Administration argues that the bipartisan Senate legislation is unnecessary. By separately negotiating individual Medicaid waivers with states that are providing health care to Katrina survivors who have been displaced from their homes, the Administration claims it can accomplish the goals of the bipartisan legislation in providing immediate Medicaid coverage to low-income Katrina survivors and ensuring full federal funding for states (and health care providers) in providing health care services to these people.
In fact, careful scrutiny of the Administrations waiver policy reveals that it fails to meet either of these two criteria. The waiver policy differs sharply in this and a number of other respects from the bipartisan Senate legislation. More
12:49 pmEverybody Loves Harriet
Well, not everyone. From David Frum, in the wee hours after it was leaked to conservative media that Harriet Miers would be nominated to the Supremes:
OCT. 3, 2005: MADAME JUSTICE
Monday, September 30 (National Review Online)I worked with Harriet Miers. She's a lovely person: intelligent, honest, capable, loyal, discreet, dedicated ... I could pile on the praise all morning. But there is no reason at all to believe either that she is a legal conservative or--and more importantly--that she has the spine and steel necessary to resist the pressures that constantly bend the American legal system toward the left. This is a chance that may never occur again: a decisive vacancy on the court, a conservative president, a 55-seat Republican majority, a large bench of brilliant and superbly credentialed conservative jurists ... and what has been done with the opportunity?
I am not saying that Harriet Miers is not a legal conservative. I am not saying that she is not steely. I am saying only that there is no good reason to believe either of these things. Not even her closest associates on the job have good reason to believe either of these things. In other words, we are being asked by this president to take this appointment purely on trust, without any independent reason to support it. And that is not a request conservatives can safely grant.
This is no longer at NRO. They pulled it once word got out that there may be a crack in the front and that a conservative didn't see the decision as making a hill of sense. But David Frum is a big player in GOP politics. He's the wordsmith of some of what ails us most these days, namely the "Axis of Evil". He's a Bush loyalist, and a tried and true movement conservative. Could Miers nomination be a head feint? After all there's reports out there that Miers called Bush on of the most brilliant men she knew. Which makes her perfect as the uber Stepford-Bushie.
But probably not as a Supreme Court justice.
The burden of proof may be heavy
Monday, October 3 (SCOTUSblog)Two of the most undistinguished members of the modern Supreme Court -- Justices Harold Burton and Sherman Minton -- got on the Court almost entirely because they were cronies of President Harry Truman; there were few other qualities of note. When the Senate Judiciary Committee takes up the nomination of Harriet Miers to be an Associate Justice, she will have the burden of proving that she is qualified to joint the Court and was not chosen on the basis of cronyism. That could pose a serious challenge.
One of the more interesting questions, at this early stage of the nomination process, is whether the American Bar Association will find Miers to be qualified for the Court. Although the ABA's views are not highly regarded by the Bush Administration, a failure by the ABA to endorse her could be crucial, if the nomination gets into trouble on any other ground. More
7:51 amTo Quote Montell Jordan, "This is How We Do It, Babaaay..."
Many non-political types don't grasp the concept of managing government to fail. They, like me at one time, see the opportunity to serve as a chance to do a good job on behalf of the public. They can't understand that for many movement conservatives tapped for cabinet and other bureaucratic jobs in recent GOP administrations, a good job means helping to cut funding, gut, or further impede the agency from doing it's job. Non-political types confuse movement conservatives' idea of serving the public as serving the needs of the movement instead of all Americans. So they naturally give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their actions in office, and their legacies once they leave.
It's natural, but it belies a certain standoffishness with reality. Perhaps they don't want to know because they think it's a big pit of graft, it's too complicated to start to understand given the demands of everyday life, or they just don't care in the first place. The unfortunate thing is that this standoffishness is the breeding ground for much of the bad government we've had throughout time. Tammany Hall to the Bush II administration.
Here's a post at TPM Cafe from Reed Hundt, former FCC Chairman. The guy who called TV a "vast wasteland." It's on a conversation in the 1990's he had with the ever-popular Bill Bennett on trying to get internet access for public schools. For those of you who don't recall, Bennett was the Secretary of Education under President Reagan in the 80's . His mission was to improve public schools and provide a better education for all American children. He played a part in helping to shape the landscape of today's education system.
I'd give you a snippet, but you've really got to enjoy this quick read for yourself. It's a prima facie example of the thinking behind managing to fail.
|Friday, September 30|
3:58 pmThis Guy Definitely Has an Opinion
"...Mark... may I call you Mark? I feel when someone has shown me the insides of their own rectum, we're pretty much on a first name basis... I have some words for you.
Whitewater. Rush Limbaugh. "Drug Dealer" Bill Clinton. Swift Boats.
Vince Fucking Foster.
Playing with fire, you say? Because the indictments ringing Tom DeLay finally reached up that one, final step from his ring of closest advisers to DeLay himself? Because the SEC has launched a formal investigation into the same behaviors by Bill Frist that put Martha Stewart recently in prison? Because one of the single most visible, highest profile Republican money men has been indicted for fraud, is being investigated for client shakedowns, and has his close business associates being investigated for a mob-connected murder?
What utter cowardice. What pathetic anti-American pedantry. What laughable protestation. The crimes of campaign money laundering, of fraud, of conspiracy, the violation of the laws of the nation, to be answered with stern visions of potential gunfire if Democrats have the audacity to pursue it...."
Check it out.
2:39 pmLetting DeLay and the GOP Hang Themselves is not a Strategy for Reclaiming Power
So many blogs on the left are debating whether or not we should use the credibility gap created by Terri Schiavo, James Dobson, Bush's cronyism, FEMA, and now Tom DeLay's indictment as a reason to begin to pummel the GOP with the truth. That's it's crooked, inept, and has a hidden agenda. There is merit in doing that. To the extent that it reminds the American people that there are such things as Congressional Democrats, and they do more than simply breathe air through their noses.
However to build a strategy based on calling the other person a bad guy is shortsighted.
To the person, no Dem outside of Howard Dean or John Edwards is laying the foundation for a liberal resurgence based on original ideas. All other Democrats seem to be marking time, waiting for the slow-motion wreck of the GOP finally come to rest. These Dems seem to feel that "it wasn't me" is a good enough base to run on. I say it isn't. America will not trust Democrats with government until Democrats come up with something better than the nothing they're offering voters today. And recapping the New Deal is not good enough.
I've written before that the Democratic Party is the only party that is ready to demonstrate the values of free speech, equality, brotherhood, and religious tolerance. Just look at us. But for some reason those that we have and continue to elect don't have the foresight or the thought to use the best of Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton in order to shape the vision of a real nation for the rest of this century and beyond.
We're living the vison of Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist, and Karl Rove. What is ours?
Once we have our vision, our plan, we'll have something to fight for. Perhaps we'll have to suffer through one more round of GOP dominance for the 2006 elections. Big wins in '06 will means what would most likely be the final orgy of greed, corruption, cronysim, partisanism, religious intolerance, and just about everything else that makes this batch of Republicans feel patriotic. Perhaps we'll need to go through this in order to clean out those Democratic Representatives and Senators that see doing nothing as the best plan. I'd like to see them do nothing at home, instead of on the job.
But in the meantime, somebody somewhere outside of DC needs to start thinking and wriitng. Now.
Fawell reluctantly testifies in Ryan trial
Friday, September 30 (Chicago Sun Times)The courtroom door briefly swung open Thursday morning, but the judge asked her deputy not to bring in the witness just yet.
Behind it, Scott Fawell was already grinning.
Cocksure, sarcastic and feisty, Fawell, once chief of staff to former Gov. George Ryan, eventually settled into his chair and looked down at the people he was about to reluctantly finger for a litany of alleged corruption.
The onetime GOP golden boy-turned government witness flashed a wide smile at defendant Lawrence Warner, who smiled back. He pointed and grinned at Warner's attorney and his old lawyer, Ed Genson. He tried making eye contact with Ryan, the man he helped win two state posts, including the governorship.
Ryan wouldn't play.
Fawell later tried again when Ryan attorney Dan Webb complained that Ryan couldn't hear Fawell.
"OK, sorry George. Sorry guys," Fawell said sincerely, pulling the microphone closer and slightly rising from his chair to look right at Ryan. More For complete coverage, click here
Decline in Iraqi Troops' Readiness Cited
Generals Tell Lawmakers They Cannot Predict When U.S. Forces Can Withdraw
Friday, September 30 (Washington Post)The number of Iraqi army battalions that can fight insurgents without U.S. and coalition help has dropped from three to one, top U.S. generals told Congress yesterday, adding that the security situation in Iraq is too uncertain to predict large-scale American troop withdrawals anytime soon.
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who oversees U.S. forces in Iraq, said there are fewer Iraqi battalions at "Level 1" readiness than there were a few months ago. Although Casey said the number of troops and overall readiness of Iraqi security forces have steadily increased in recent months, and that there has not been a "step backwards," both Republican and Democratic senators expressed deep concern that the United States is not making enough progress against a resilient insurgency. More
The Way It Is
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Friday, September 30 (New York Times)Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He sold all his stock in HCA, which his father helped found, just days before the stock plunged. Two years ago, Mr. Frist claimed that he did not even know if he owned HCA stock.
According to a new U.S. government index, the effect of greenhouse gases is up 20 percent since 1990.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a 33-year-old Wall Street insider with little experience in regulation but close ties to drug firms, was made a deputy commissioner at the F.D.A. in July. (This story, picked up by Time magazine, was originally reported by Alicia Mundy of The Seattle Times.)
The Artic ice cap is shrinking at an alarming rate.
Two of the three senior positions at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are vacant. The third is held by Jonathan Snare, a former lobbyist. Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog group, reports that he worked on efforts to keep ephedra, a dietary supplement that was banned by the F.D.A., legal. More
FEMA Replaces Cash Offer With Rental Help
Friday, September 30 (Washington Post) The government is offering $2,358 to victims of Hurricane Katrina to help pay for three months' rent, but is no longer handing out $2,000 to people who need immediate cash assistance.
The new rental program began this week and only applies to housing, unlike the previous cash program that offered money to eligible hurricane victims for immediate needs such as food, transportation and shelter.
Those qualifying can receive $2,358 toward three months of housing, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development hopes will serve as a transition for the thousands of displaced families still dependent on temporary shelters. The money is available through by check or electronic funds transfer.
But the program also replaces the cash program that had provided nearly 752,000 households each with $2,000 in the wake of Katrina. FEMA said more than $1.5 billion was handed out, but then applications slowed.
"There wasn't a high level of registrations coming in at this point," FEMA spokeswoman Natalie Rule said in explaining the decision to end the cash program. "Now that the immediate needs has been met, we have seamlessly moved to our transitional housing assistance program."
But another government program that offered Katrina victims with $2,000 debit cards to each affected household ran into administrative problems and was quickly scrapped.
The transition from outright cash assistance to rental help isn't as seamless as the government portrays, said Courtney Littig, a spokeswoman for Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss. She described fielding more than 20 calls in a day from constituents in South Mississippi confused and desperate for assistance. More
|Thursday, September 29|
There's something rotten in Tom DeLay's Washington. Here's how to clean the place up. By Bruce Reed
Thursday, September 29 (New Democrats Online) Tom DeLay may have done the country a service, by confirming what voters have long suspected: There's something rotten in Washington. From the Credit Mobilier railroad stock fraud of the 1870s to Watergate in the 1970s, corruption has provided some of democracy's greatest teaching moments. Americans deserve more than just seeing the House majority leader lose the power he has been abusing. It's time to drain theswamp that breeds these scandals in the first place.
Washington, like Las Vegas, has never been entirely on the level. But today, an unfortunate series of events -- the polarization of American politics, the explosive growth of the lobbying industry, and the prolonged reign of one-party government -- has combined to give private interests their strongest grip on the nation's capital since the Gilded Age. Without sweeping changes in the way Washington works, the interests of ordinary people don't stand a chance.
Neither party has clean hands, but the party that runs the nation's capital deserves most of the blame for its corruption. Republicans have cynically and deliberately aligned themselves with private interests. They have coerced firms to hire Republican lobbyists, and made businesses agree to support all the president's budget-busting tax cuts if they ever want to see another tax break. George W. Bush pledged to restore integrity to government, but his party has done more to restore payola instead. More
Bill Bennett: "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down"
Thursday, Sepotember 29 (Media Matters for America)Addressing a caller's suggestion that the "lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years" would be enough to preserve Social Security's solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such "far-reaching, extensive extrapolations" by declaring that if "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down." More
Prosecution: 'The fix was in'
Thursday, September 29 (Chicago Sun-Times)George Ryan handed his best pal Larry Warner "the keys to the state government kingdom," and the "fix was in," a federal prosecutor charged Wednesday as the state's biggest public corruption trial in decades got under way.
As secretary of state and as governor, Ryan greased the way for Warner and Ryan's "inner circle" to rake in cash from state business, Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon told jurors in a scathing 90-minute opening statement. Ryan, in turn, was treated to trips to Las Vegas and Jamaica, and took gifts and loans for himself and his family, Fardon said. Ryan was supposed to disclose the perks but didn't. And when the feds talked to him about it, Ryan lied to cover it up, Fardon said.
For complete coverage, bookmark this link
Indictment shakes House GOP
Thursday, September 29 (Chicago Sun-Times)Shadowed by scandal, House Republicans face an uncertain new era after a day of upheaval that left Majority Leader Tom DeLay under indictment and forced to surrender his powerful post.
"What we do here is more important than who we are," Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt said Wednesday after the rank and file named him as DeLay's replacement, at least for the time being. "We have an agenda to move forward here."
Democrats, 11 long years in the minority, said the GOP offered nothing of the sort.
DeLay's indictment marks "the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader.
Even as DeLay professed his innocence and his lawyers said they hoped to avoid having him handcuffed, fingerprinted and photographed, potential for fresh controversy surfaced.
Records on file with the Federal Election Commission show that Blunt's political action committee has paid roughly $88,000 in fees since 2003 to a consultant facing indictment in Texas in the same case as DeLay. More
Fear Exceeded Crime's Reality in New Orleans
Thursday, September 29 (New York Times)After the storm came the siege. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, terror from crimes seen and unseen, real and rumored, gripped New Orleans. The fears changed troop deployments, delayed medical evacuations, drove police officers to quit, grounded helicopters. Edwin P. Compass III, the police superintendent, said that tourists - the core of the city's economy - were being robbed and raped on streets that had slid into anarchy.
The mass misery in the city's two unlit and uncooled primary shelters, the convention center and the Superdome, was compounded, officials said, by gangs that were raping women and children.
A month later, a review of the available evidence now shows that some, though not all, of the most alarming stories that coursed through the city appear to be little more than figments of frightened imaginations, the product of chaotic circumstances that included no reliable communications, and perhaps the residue of the longstanding raw relations between some police officers and members of the public. More
|Wednesday, September 28|
1:22 pmFEMA as Prison Bitch
This article speaks volumes about how President Bush views government. It is not something to serve, rather to serve as a footstool. Let me pull out some snippets that truly aggrivated me.
1) Even FEMA's celebrated successes, such as its response to the Florida hurricanes last year, have come under scrutiny.
For starters, the agency distributed $30 million to residents of Miami-Dade County despite the fact that it was not part of the disaster area. Noting that the county was a pivotal region for the 2004 presidential election, critics were quick to label the disbursement political patronage. DHS' inspector general, Richard Skinner, still is investigating the charge, and critics are calling for a broader probe. In an earlier review, Skinner found FEMA paid for funerals for deaths that were not attributable to the hurricanes. Florida inspectors had a 37 percent error rate in their damage assessments, according Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
2) FEMA's core budget has been cut every year since it joined DHS, according to figures cited in the Los Angeles Times in September. In congressional testimony this March, Brown appeared to confirm that his agency lost 500 positions during that period. He said he was trying to get 190 positions reinstated. Some of the lost positions were connected to grant programs and offices transferred out of FEMA to other agencies within DHS. FEMA's 200-member IG office was moved in its entirety to Homeland Security, for example. When the fire grant program, which distributes more than $700 million, left FEMA, 40 employees went with it. But that was not always the case. "There were a number of times I was aware of that DHS went around and scooped up unobligated funds," recalls a former House Democratic staffer familiar with the agency. "Personnel were pulled out of FEMA and put into DHS."
As a result of hemorrhaging people and funding, FEMA appears to have lost muscle that could have been important in responding to Katrina. One former official frets that as much as a third of the staff has been cut from FEMA's five Mobile Emergency Response Support detachments, for instance. Those teams, each made up of several dozen trained experts and heavy vehicles, deploy instantly to set up communications gear, power generators and life-support equipment to help federal, state and local officials coordinate response to a disaster
There's even more stuff there. It's one of the best articles I've read on how the administration killed FEMA. Politics over lives. Cronyism over all. Payback rules. Whatever Clinton did, we must undo it. Welcome to Bush's America. It's easy to tell what his priorities are, as with one hand he guts FEMA, and the other he announces that the military needs to take over disaster relief. To Bush, only the military can do jobs this large. But on that note check this out, courtesy of Crooks & Liars, and RudePundit:
But my ire doesn't stop there. Check this out, courtesy of C&L and Rude Pundit, It's a snippet from past FEMA missions statments. They glaringly reflect the priorities between a department run by James Lee Witt, and that run by former college roomates Joe Allbaugh and Mike Brown:
Strategic Goal 2
Reduce human suffering and enhance the recovery of communities after disaster strikes.
FEMA works with its emergency management partners to develop and maintain an integrated operational capability to respond to and recover from the devastation of disasters. When disaster strikes, the priorities are to ensure that the immediate needs of all disaster victims are provided for and that communities are able to begin the process of rebuilding and returning to normal as soon as possible.
* Strategic Objective 2.1. By FY 2007, reduce by 25 percent human suffering from the impact of disasters.
Performance Measures: For the purpose of this objective, "human suffering" is defined as the feeling of loss of control over ones physical and economic state.
The objective will be measured annually by:
1. an assessment of the percentage of times that, within 12 hours of a disaster, the agency and its partners act on all identified State and local government requests to meet disaster victims needs for water, food, and shelter. The intention is to coordinate the provision of these basic needs within 72 hours of the disaster;
2. the annual percentage increase over the 1998 baseline of NFIP policies in force; and
3. the average length of time taken to provide individual assistance checks to eligible applicants.
Brown and Allbaugh's FEMA
Mission: Lead America to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from disasters
Read more, because what reminds me of the stuff salesmen drop off for me to read was supposed to be the master plan for mitigating disaster and coordinating disaster response and relief. Between the 3 pieces, FEMA was rented out for pleasure like a prison b----. Take whatever you want, it's only function is to serve the administration, DHS, or the political needs of the RNC.
In the meantime people suffered. When are we going to get rid of this particular strain of Republican? Hopefully soon, because it's killing us.
|Monday, September 26|
"Restoring the American Dream -- Combating Poverty and Building One America"
Text of 9/15/05 speech by former Sen. John Edwards
Monday, September 26 (One America Committee)We have all seen the images from the wreckage of Katrina - people packed into the Superdome and convention center with only the clothes on their backs. And we've all asked what brought them there. Many things did, but one of them was poverty.
Widespread poverty existed before Katrina and it will persist after the Gulf region is rebuilt, if we let the images that we have watched on the news fade from our memories as they fade from our television screens.
But today we have a historic opportunity. We do not have to live in an America that accepts poverty as a fact of life or chooses to ignore it. The day after Katrina hit, new government statistics showed that 37 million Americans live in poverty, up for the fourth year in a row.
The Superdome made those people impossible to ignore, but we could look down the streets of every city in America and see enough poor and forgotten families to fill all the football stadiums in America. Those families in the Superdome were abandoned, but in a less striking way, that's how millions of struggling Americans feel every day. They know there are jobs somewhere, but not jobs they can get to, not jobs they're trained for. They know some children go to good schools, but the schools for their children have overcrowded classrooms and overwhelmed teachers. They know some people live in safe neighborhoods, but they walk their kids past gang members every day. That sense of isolation exists in our inner cities and in our small towns. While it touches African-Americans and Latinos most, it also touches every community. Talk to families across America who are sorting their bills into "pay now" and "pay later" piles, knowing that a sick child or a pink slip will send them over the edge. They feel like they're alone.
There is a powerful hunger for community in our country today. People understand they have to work hard and take responsibility for themselves. But they also know there's more to America than that.
This Administration may think every American is an island. But Americans know that Katrina's victims shouldn't have been out there on their own, and that no American should be out there on their own. That's why even when our government failed to respond to Katrina, American citizens stepped up in an extraordinary way. We know that it matters how we as a nation meet our responsibilities. It defines us as a nation. (Download speech here) More
2:08pmNo Jews, No Catholics
Thanks to the Movement Conservative takeover of Congress, you may be seeing signs like this in the windows of Head Start classes around the country. Caught up in a frenzy of interpreting Jesus' words of "brotherhood" and "love" as "hatred" and "exclusion," they passed a bill to make it legal to discrmiminate by religion. Check it out. If the Senate is goofy enough to let this pass, Bush will surely sign it. After all, he's hostage to the Religious Right.
Here's a thought. Who's going to send their kids to places that actively discriminate? How can we find out they're discriminating based on religion, and then tell everyone about how much they hate?
GONSALVES: Investment Education
Monday, September 26 (AlterNet)Thanks to my mother's sacrifice, I was blessed to have a privileged pre-college education. Unfortunately, like most American school kids, I came out on the other end as a financial ignoramus.
But I'm happy to report that I was able to develop certain critical faculties, which should please social commentator Neil Postman, who has written that most American students enter the education system as question marks and come out as periods, meaning the art of question-posing and exploration has fallen by the wayside in favor of cramming kids' heads with "the right answers."
And although conservative school critics lament the "dumbing down" of education and think standardized tests and higher SAT scores will somehow "raise the bar" and provide equal opportunity for all, the reality is this: Only a relatively small segment of the population can realistically expect to enjoy the status of higher paying professions like that experienced by accountants, engineers, lawyers and doctors. More