Thursday, June 30, 2005

Lynching and the to be Lynched

Terry Neal has written a good piece today about the recent resolution apologizing for not making lynching a federal crime titled Symbolic Lynching Resolution Forced Concrete Political Choice. It is a good look at different reactions and different perceptions about how a mere apology (or lack there of) can mean a lot. I recommend the read.

Spain Adopts Gay Marriage

This comes one day after a major step forward in legalizing gay marriage in Canada.

Spain OKs Gay Marriage, Defying Opponents

By MAR ROMAN, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 7 minutes ago

MADRID, Spain - Parliament legalized gay marriage Thursday, defying conservatives and clergy who opposed making traditionally Roman Catholic Spain the third country to allow same-sex unions nationwide. Jubilant gay activists blew kisses to lawmakers after the vote.
The measure passed the 350-seat Congress of Deputies by a vote of 187 to 147. The bill, part of the ruling Socialists' aggressive agenda for social reform, also lets gay couples adopt children and inherit each others' property.

The bill is now law. The Senate, where conservatives hold the largest number of seats, rejected the bill last week. But it is an advisory body and final say on legislation rests with the Congress of Deputies.

After the final tally was announced, gay and lesbian activists watching from the spectator section of the ornate chamber cried, cheered, hugged, waved to lawmakers and blew them kisses.

Several members of the conservative opposition Popular Party, which was vehemently opposed to the bill, shouted: "This is a disgrace." Those in favor stood and clapped.

The Netherlands and Belgium are the only other two countries that allow gay marriage nationwide. Canada's House of Commons passed legislation Tuesday that would legalize gay marriage; its Senate is expected to pass the bill into law by the end of July.

(Full Story)

Time to Hand Over Plame Documents

Time magazine has stated that it will hand over the documents sought in the investigation into who leaked the name of Valerie Plame to Bob Novak in retaliation for her husband's role in being a whistleblower on the Bush Administration's claims that Saddam was trying to import yellow cake from Niger.

Since this is all part of a grand jury investigation, don't expect to find out the name of the informant anytime soon. Grand jury investigations remain secret.

Time Inc says will hand over papers in Plame case

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Miller and Cooper to be Held in Contempt

The two journalists that were ordered to release the name of the informant that leaked the name of Valerie Plame have been given until Friday to produce the name of their White House informant or go to jail.

While, normally, I would back the journalists in protecting their source, I cannot do it in this situation. Normally, the journalists is protecting a source that is disclosing a crime so it can be exposed. In this case, the source was committing the crime and using the media as its tool to do it. If a line is not draw in the sand between what is and what is not protected as freedom of speech, this will not be the last time that partisan politicians use the media to commit such a crime.


A pragmatist believes something when they see it.

A fanatic sees something when they believe it.

That is just what Republican Rep. Robin Hayes of North Carolina is, a fanatic.

A Republican congressman from North Carolina told CNN on Wednesday that the "evidence is clear" that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001. "Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said.

When asked about the fact that no investigative body has ever found any link between Saddam and 9/11, he replied:

"I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."

Oh? And where should we have been looking?

Hayes, the vice chairman of the House subcommittee on terrorism, said legislators have access to evidence others do not.

So, is he admitting that the government did not turn over all the information to the 9/11 commission? Is he saying that the government has been hiding evidence from the American people?

The 9/11 commission could find no evidence. Bush could cite no evidence. I'm sorry, but if there was one iota of evidence that there was any link between Saddam and 9/11, Bush would have undoubtedly revealed it by now. Hayes is just another nutty fanatic in Congress that should not be there.

GOP lawmaker: Saddam linked to 9/11

The Case for Setting a Timetable in Iraq

There has been much talk about how it is bad to set a timetable for the withdraw of our troops in Iraq. While I do believe that we are obligated to finish the job we started, setting a timetable may not be such a bad idea. Setting a withdrawal date, say two years, may be just right right thing to do.


1) The claim that the insurgents will just wait us out - This may not be such a bad thing. In fact, it may be a good thing. One of the biggest problems facing the American and Iraqi mission is the constant barrage of terrorists/insurgent attacks on our military, the Iraqi military, and the civilian population. The attacks drain the man power and resource of both ours and the Iraqi forces to continue the reconstruction of Iraq. The attacks on the civilian population demoralizes the citizens, diminishes economic stability/growth, and hampers the recruitment capacity of the Iraqi military and police forces.

If, by setting a time table for withdraw, the insurgents reduce the frequency of their attacks in order to "wait us out," this may give some much needed breathing room for the US and Iraq governments to build a viable security force and functioning infrastructure. Once these two are completed, it is much more difficult for the insurgency to find Iraq a friendly environment to fight in.

2) It puts the future security of Iraq in Iraqi hands - Early in the Viet Nam war, the South Viet Nemeses were a substantial part of the fighting force opposing North Viet Nemeses aggression. By the end of the war, it was very difficult to recruit Viet Nemeses to fight for their own country. One of the reasons was complacency in someone else fighting for them. Why die doing a job that someone else is willing to die doing for you? As long as there was no foreseeable withdrawal of US forces, there was no incentive for the South Viet Nemeses to take stock in their own defense. The same holds true in Iraq. Why would a father and a husband risk his own life and the ability to provide for his family if there are American troops there to do the same job? Currently, the insurgency is targeting Iraqi security forces. Currently there is no incentive for an Iraqi to stand up and take the risk as long as there are foreign troops willing to take the risk on his behalf. If there is a foreseeable end to the US occupation, then it behooves the Iraqi citizens to take stock in their own security.

3) It quells the notion that we are permanent occupiers - Much of the rallying cry for the insurgents and recruitment of troops is the fact that the US intends on making a permanent presence in Iraq. If there is a timetable set for our withdrawal, it will show the Iraqis and foreign fighters that we have no intention to make ourselves a permanent fixture.

4) A deadline creates incentives - not only is this important to creating a viable Iraqi security force, but in every aspect of our mission. People work better with a deadline. Not only does it give our own troops a verifiable date that they will be back with their families, but an incentive to do the most in a limited amount of time.

5) A deadline will foster support for the war - While the polls show a substantial drop in the support of the war, creating a deadline for our troops homecoming creates the feeling that there is an end in sight. People hate the notion of uncertainty. Whether it is in their job, the stock market, or even in gas prices, uncertainty erodes support for anything. If we can say to the American people that there will be a foreseeable end and that your support is crucial between now and then, it will be much easier to create and keep support for the war effort.

For the reasons stated above, setting a deadline for our withdrawal may be our best bet in creating a stable situation in which we can leave Iraq, satisfied that the mission is truly accomplished.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Lost Liberty Hotel

This is too good to be true. Logan Darrow Clements has just filed an application in the City of Weare, NH. to build a hotel at 34 Cilley Hill Road. There is already a house sitting on this land, but by the ruling in Kelo vs. City of New London, the city selectmen can condemn the property under eminent domain.

You may ask why is this any more special than any other lot of privately owned land being stolen the government? Because the house belongs to none other than Justice Souter. Mr. Clements argues that the hotel will bring in more tax revenue and be a bigger benefit to the town than Justice Souter's house will ever be.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Mr. Chip Meany
Code Enforcement Officer
Town of Weare, New Hampshire
Fax 603-529-4554

Dear Mr. Meany,

I am proposing to build a hotel at 34 Cilley Hill Road in the Town of Weare. I would like to know the process your town has for allowing such a development.

Although this property is owned by an individual, David H. Souter, a recent Supreme Court decision, "Kelo vs. City of New London" clears the way for this land to be taken by the Government of Weare through eminent domain and given to my LLC for the purposes of building a hotel. The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare.

As I understand it your town has five people serving on the Board of Selectmen. Therefore, since it will require only three people to vote in favor of the use of eminent domain I am quite confident that this hotel development is a viable project. I am currently seeking investors and hotel plans from an architect. Please let me know the proper steps to follow to proceed in accordance with the law in your town.

Thank you.


Logan Darrow Clements
Freestar Media, LLC

The hotel would be named "The Lost Liberty Hotel" and would feature the "Just Desserts Café." To read the Press Release

Update: the story from NH Union Leader

The Court Battles Have Only Just Begun

Yesterdays split decision by the court on the Ten Commandments have done nothing to quell future litigation. By the Courts refusal to draw a clear objective line of what and what is not constitutional (instead, it is relying on subjective intent), the Supreme Court has unleashed a flurry of activity on both sides of the argument.

Christian Groups Plan More Monuments

I have never been adverse to the display of the Ten Commandments when done for historic purpose. It is, without question, an important building block of our legal foundation. But, so are the Twelve Tables and The Code of Hammurabi. In fact, much of the Ten Commandments were lifted from Babylonian Law. If you want to display the Ten Commandments as a historical monument, at least be true to history.

What disturbs me, though, is that because the Ten Commandments are not outright banned from public grounds, it can open up a new can of worms. If we are to be true to the constitution and neither promote, nor restrict religion, we must now open up public grounds for all display of religion, regardless to how disdainful it may be. This is shown by the controversy in Idaho where a monument to the Ten Commandments sits almost alone at the state capital. It was of no consequence for years:

By all accounts, the Boise monument went virtually unnoticed for decades until it came to the attention of the Rev. Fred Phelps, a Kansas minister who travels the country inveighing against homosexuality. Phelps argued that if Boise allowed one religious display on its property, it must allow him to erect a monument declaring that Matthew Shepard, a gay man murdered in a hate crime in Wyoming 1998, is "burning in hell." [1]

Sometimes, what seems as a small victory for some is actually a larger victory for others.

A little more on the estemed Rev. Fred Phelps from the anit-defamation league. I really wonder who will be burning in hell.

Feel the Love

Feel the Love Posted by Hello

Monday, June 27, 2005

9/11 Families Criticize Karl Rove

For all of you who want to disregard and dismiss the outrage from liberals in regards to Karl Rove's outrageous remarks, then maybe you will pay a little more deference to the families of the victims themselves.

FOS11 Statement on Comments Made By Karl Rove

As families whose relatives were victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, we believe it is an outrage that any Democrat, any Republican, any conservative or any liberal, stakes a "high ground" position based upon the September 11th death and destruction. Doing so assumes that all those who died and their loved ones would agree. In truth, some would and some would not. By definition the conduct is divisive and, because it is intended to be self-serving and politicizes 9/11, it is offensive.

We are calling on Karl Rove to resist his temptations and stop trying to reap political gain in the tragic misfortune of others. His comments are not welcome.

Kelo v. City of New London

I have now been able to read the entire opinion of Kelo v. City of New London. I continue to think that it was a horrible decision. Not only because of the justifications that the court used, but because of the real world application of the ruling. In the opinion, the court finds that a local municipalities need to effectively coordinate "economic development" falls within the scope of "public purpose."

Because the plan unquestionably serves a public purpose, the takings challenged here satisfy the public use requirement of the Fifth Amendment.

While, the need for areas to pursue economic redevelopment is crucial for towns and states to rejuvenate blighted and dilapidated areas, there was no showing that the area in question was of that nature. In fact, the court allowed the town to find the area to be "sufficiently distressed."

Additionally, I fail to see how the court can find that public use can be expansive enough to encompass "tax base." Regardless of trying to figure out original intent of the founders, expanding public use for the purposes of building a larger tax base over the interest of individual rights is far broader than the constitution should ever be read.

The court seems to recognize that fact that this form of taking benefits private individuals, but gives it little weight in determining the line between public and private taking.

Quite simply, the government's pursuit of a public purpose will often benefit individual private parties.

But the justification from a prior case, Midkiff, was in regards to the ability for lessees who were previously unable to purchase their homes.

The court also seemed to side step the issue of private parties to be able to manipulate the local zoning boards.

It is further argued that without a bright line rule nothing would stop a city from transferring citizen A's property to citizen B for the sole reason that citizen B will put the property to a more productive use and thus pay more taxes. Such a one-to-one transfer of property, executed outside the confines of an integrated development plan, is not presented in this case. While such and unusual exercise of government power would certainly raise a suspicion that a private purpose was afoot, the thetical case posited by petitioners can be confronted if and when they arise. They do not warrant the crafting of an artificial restriction on the concept of public use.

I find this logic to be wholly arbitrary and without thought. Without a bright line rule to differentiate public and private use, the court has allowed municipalities to determine what is and what is not "integrated development." Who is to say that a single home traded for a single business is not, or cannot be integrated development. While this distinction may seem more discernable in larger cities, it is not as discernable in smaller municipalities. It also shifts the burden from the municipalities to prove what is pubic use on to the individual owner. I believe that the constitutional mandate of the 5th Amendment would place the burden on the city, not the individual. This is a costly burden that will hinder many individuals from asserting whatever property rights they have left.

The Court also seems to put efficiency over property rights.

... a comprehensive redevelopment plan obviously requires that the legal rights of all interested parties be established before new construction can be commenced. A constitutional rule that required postponement of the judicial approval of every condemnation until the likelihood of success of the plan had been assured would unquestionably impose a significant impediment to the successful consummation of many such plans.

While this is true, there is still no justification for efficiency to be paramount over our 5th Amendment rights. The court would have recognized that the rights we enjoy under the Bill of Rights is not there to hinder economic development, but to protect one of the most fundamental principals we base our judicial system on - the right to be secure in our possessions from government intrusion. Efficiency for economic redevelopment is secondary, not premier to our individual rights.

The majority ends its opinion with.

As the submission of the parties and their amici make clear, the necessity and wisdom of using eminent domain to promote economic development are certainly matters of legitimate public debate. This Court's authority, however, extends only to determining whether the City's proposed condemnations are for a "public use" within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.

This is where the court completely drops the ball. This is where the court is formulating its authority in a "constructionist" manner and disregarding the actually real world implications of the ruling. This is where the court should have step outside of its use of precedent and interpretation for its own analysis of the disparate impact it would have on the most vulnerable property owners, the poorer, the older, and the lower middle class. The Court declines to "second guess" the cities "considered judgment," when it should be the court declining to give deference to the city. The Court should have been requiring the city meet a higher level of scrutiny, proof of desperate needs, before a city is allowed to impose its will upon the rights of individual citizens.

I take back my earlier comment that this may be a small win for Federalism. This is a big loss for the 5th Amendment.

Court Strikes Down Ten Commandments In Courthouses

In a decision that was much closer than I would have predicted (5-4) the Supreme Court has ruled that the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in courthouses. Justice David H. Souter, writing for the majority:

“The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion...”

“When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates tha central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality...”

Needless to say, I think this is a good ruling. I will post more as the text of the opinion is made available.

Court Bars Courthouse Commandment Displays

Supreme Court bars Ten Commandments at courthouses

Friday, June 24, 2005

They Just Can Stop..

... making complete jackasses of themselves. Yesterday, Dick Cheney said about the detainees in Guantanamo Bay:

"They're very well treated down there. They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want," Cheney said in a CNN interview. "There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people."

Maybe Cheney likes to be chained in the fetal position for the better part of a day, but that is his prerogative to do in the bedroom whatever he wants ( as long as Lynn is willing to consent to it). Let the rest of decide for ourselves whether or not torture turns us on.

(Full Story)

The Lies About Hillary

I have been listening to an interview with Ed Klein about his new book The Truth About Hillary. When Peggy Noonan wrote, "The book is poorly written, poorly thought, poorly sourced and full of the kind of loaded language that is appropriate to a polemic but not an investigative work," I thought Noonan was just trying to strategically distance the GOP and soften the criticism that the only thing Republicans can do is smear people. But after listening to the interview, I think Peggy was just stating a fact. The guy is a moron. He had to admit that he physically describe people that he never met, and quoted people who don't exist. He also had to admit to numerous other falsehoods.

So, even if you are a die hard anti-Hilliaryite, don't waste your time with the book. It is actually possible that you might even get more "truth" by reading something by Ann Coulter (if I am saying that, you know it must be bad).

Osama Watch Clock

It has now been 1376 days since George Bush said he was going to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. Still waiting...

Republicans Press Bush to Turn Over Bolton Memos

Republican Senators are starting to realize that the White House is being to obstinate in refusing to turn over documents that may prove that Bolton was illegally acquiring confidential information and spying on his colleagues. Democrats have pledged to hold an up or down vote on Bolton as soon as the President turns over the documents, but Bush continues to filibuster his own nomination. The information can't be good if he has been obstructing his own nomination from being confirmed for so long. I am betting he will withdraw the nomination before he would ever release the papers. But, the best bet is that Bush will completely whimp out and do a recess appointment.

Senate Republicans press Bush to turn over Bolton documents

By James Kuhnhenn, Knight Ridder Newspapers
Wed Jun 22, 6:39 PM ET

WASHINGTON - A growing number of Senate Republicans say John Bolton won't be confirmed as United Nations ambassador unless the White House turns over documents that Democrats say they need to assess Bolton's fitness for the post.

Though the White House continued Wednesday to demand an up-or-down vote on Bolton, these Republican senators say the Senate is in a standoff that only President Bush can resolve.

"I hope the president will take a very hard look at the documents," Sen. Lamar Alexander (news, bio, voting record), R-Tenn., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview with Knight Ridder. "Unless we resolve this dilemma quickly, Mr. Bolton is not going to be the U.N. ambassador. ... The president should understand that we're at an impasse. It may be more important to preserve the doctrine of separation of powers than to have John Bolton in the U.N."

Alexander's comments came after Sen. Trent Lott (news, bio, voting record), R-Miss., the former Senate majority leader, urged the White House to turn over documents to Bolton's two leading Democratic foes, Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. Another Republican, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (news, bio, voting record) of Rhode Island, also called for the White House to relent.

The shifting Republican views came after Democrats blocked Bolton's confirmation Monday for a second time. The Senate voted 54-38 to end debate on his nomination and move to a conclusive vote, but under Senate rules 60 of 100 votes are needed to end debate.

(Full Story)

Rove Refuses to Apologize

On Wednesday, Durbin apologized for his boneheaded comments. But while Durbin stepped up to the plate, Karl Rove is refusing to apologize for his comments at the New York Conservitive Party meeting, and the White House is standing behind him. I am not sure how anyone can defend Rove's comments which was a slap in the face to every American who stood by their fellow American in the wake of 9/11. It was a slap in the face to those of us who put partisan politics aside in order to go after those who attacked us and to bring them to justice. And, yes, I like many others, feel he should apologize.

Yes, MoveOn did have a petition to us "moderation and restraint." But; A) they don't speak for all liberals, B) It still called on bring all the terrorists to justice, and C) Can you really blame them when Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld would not rule out using nuclear weapons in Afghanistan, Wolfowitz had warned the Taliban that the United States will “use a very large hammer,” Thomas Woodrow, a Wolfowitz pal and veteran of the Defense Intelligence Agency, made the point clear in a column for the Washington Times September 14th, 2001.

“At a bare minimum, tactical nuclear capabilities should be used against the bin Laden camps in the desert of Afghanistan,” Woodrow wrote. “To do less would be rightly seen by the poisoned minds that orchestrated these attacks as cowardice on the part of the United States and the current administration.”

I think what Rove is actually doing is trying to shift the blame for the Bush Administrations failed policies in the war on terror. Mistakes and underestimations from the beginning have put our quest to protect ourselves in jeopardy. Rove is trying to protect his and his fellow Neo-Cons legacy as the support for the failed policies is dropping with the American people. With the presidents poll numbers approaching those of Nixon in his final months in office, Rove, the political genius is running out of wiggle room and is trying old, "ain't my fault," appeal. Well, it ain't gonna work, Karl.

Last Throes

On Thursday, Dick Cheney defended his remarks calling the Iraq insurgency in its "last throes." Today, a Car Bomber Slams Into U.S. Convoy in Iraq. The only thing in its last throes is the Bush Administrations credibility. Look, I am willing to support the war effort until we have done our job. That is why I normally don't blog about the daily tragedies occurring in Iraq. But please stop blowing smoke up my ass. Cheney sounds more like a used car salesman than a leader of the country.

Abizaid disputes Cheney’s claim that Iraq insurgency is weakening

By Liz Sidoti
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The top American military commander in the Persian Gulf disputed a contention by Vice President Dick Cheney that the Iraqi insurgency is in its “last throes” and told Congress on Thursday its strength was basically undiminished from six months ago.
Furthermore, Gen. John Abizaid told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago.”

His testimony came as the nation’s top defense leaders rejected calls by some lawmakers for the Bush administration to set a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. “That would be a mistake,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the committtee.

In a CNN interview last month, Cheney said: “The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.”

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee’s senior Democrat, asked Abizaid if he realized he was contradicting Cheney.

“I don’t know that I would make any comment about that other than to say there’s a lot of work to be done,” said Abizaid. “I gave you my opinion.”

Levin and other congressional Democrats — and some Republicans as well — have criticized administration officials for painting an unrealistically rosy picture of the situation in Iraq.

(Full Story)

Quote of the Day

"President Bush welcomed Vietnam's prime minister to the White House today. He promised the prime minister he would travel to Vietnam next year---that is, unless his dad can get him out of it."
--Jay Leno

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Republicans Hate to Lose

In fact, they hate to lose so much that they even have to top the boneheaded remarks by Dean and Durbin. First, Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.) accused Democrats of "denigrating and demonizing Christians." Now, Karl Rove decided to step in the pile.

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.
Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.

Republicans just can't stop politicizing one of America's greatest tragedies. They just can't stop using the pain and suffering of the victims and their families for political gain. You ask any New Yorker whether or not they wanted to offer condolences to the terrorists or the victims families. When I worked in Lower Manhattan, I walked by the big gapping hole where 3000 Americans lost their lives almost every single day. Ask me if I wanted buy Osama an orange julius and sit down and talk about feelings or pummel him to a pulp. The difference was, we wanted to go after the terrorists. You, Karl, wanted to go after Saddam for your own grand scheme and great visions.

You want to talk about motives? Our motive was to get the people who did this to us. Our motive was to bring Osama's head back on a plate. Where is the head Karl? Your screwed up plan let him get away in Afghanistan because you wanted to topple Iraq. You have had 4 years to avenge the death of our fellow Americans. Where is my damn head on a plate, Karl? And what actually puts our troops in more danger, torturing the prisoners or saying we shouldn't be doing it? Obviously torturing the prisoners hasn't helped capture Bin Laden, now has it? Where is my freaking head, Karl? What are your motives, Karl?

Porter Goss claims to know where he Bin Laden is, but can't go after him because now you want to start respecting sovereignty of other states? Bullshit Karl. You invaded Afghanistan, you invaded Iraq... now you want to play nice?

The truth is, you don't care about 9/11... not the way the rest of America does. For you it is just a way to score political points and push an agenda. You can't make 9/11 right vs. left. 9/11 belongs to all of us - right, left, black, white, old and young. You can't steal it from the real Americans, Karl. I don't care how much spin you put on it.

Hopefully an End to Gerrymandering

All hail the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act (H.R.2642). Democratic Congressman from Tennessee, John Tanner, has introduced legislation that would stop the mid census redistricting that incumbents use to retain their seat and partisans use to gain seats. From Tanners press release:

It is time to take politics and partisanship out of the Congressional redistricting process, Congressman John Tanner said today when he introduced the Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act. The bill calls for an independent, bipartisan commission in each state to redraw Congressional district maps every 10 years and restricts redistricting efforts from taking place between census cycles.

“Partisan politicians have hijacked the electoral system through redistricting,” Tanner said. “Voters have lost much of their say in who they hire to represent them in Washington. We need to reform the process to put the House of Representatives back in the hands of the people as it was designed to be.”

Redistricting is traditionally conducted every 10 years, following the decennial census, to ensure equal population in each Congressional district. Many have come to view the process as a partisan opportunity to strengthen some incumbencies and weaken the chances of their political opponents. Due in part to the redistricting system, 95% of incumbents retained their U.S. House seats in last year’s elections, and only seven seats out of 435 changed hands from one major party to another.

“The political center has been disappearing in Washington,” said Tanner, a founding member of the Blue Dog Coalition, comprised of 35 moderate to conservative House Democrats. “Part of the reason is that so many Congressional districts have been designed to guarantee victory for one political party or another, paving the way for partisan extremists unwilling to work cooperatively with others toward the best interest of the country.

“The result is political polarization and tyranny of the majority, which is dangerous in any country or state where one party controls every branch of government.”

(Full Press Release)

H/T The Moderate Republican

Supreme Court Rules Cities Can Seize Private Property for Private Use

In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court said it could not stop State and Local Municipalities from seizing privately owned land for use in other private ventures. The plaintiffs in the case had argued that local governments could not condemn and seize property that was not being used for the public (roads, schools, parks, etc). In its opinion, the SC claimed there was no federal protection from local governments seizing land to make way for office parks and shopping malls. The power of local government to do this dispropriately affects lower middle class and poor families. This puts the power in the hands of wealthy land developers and removes any right of "true ownership" from the American people.

While I think this is a horrible decision for individual Americans, the justification for the ruling is a small win for the notion of federalism. The opinion states that it is not for federal courts to decide local zoning issues, but did leave open the door for states to pass laws that would be more restrictive on local governments abuse of power. I foresee this being a big campaign issue in upcoming state and local elections. (Thanks to MOM, here is the link to the opinion)

Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer
17 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling — assailed by dissenting Justice Sanday Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America — was a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.

Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.

"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including — but by no means limited to — new jobs and increased tax revenue," Stevens wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

"It is not for the courts to oversee the choice of the boundary line nor to sit in review on the size of a particular project area," he said.

O'Connor, who has often been a key swing vote at the court, issued a stinging dissent, arguing that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."
(Full Story)

Flag Burning

There is a lot of talk about the proposed amendment on burning the American flag. I think my feelings are best represented by an Air Force Colonel I met a long time ago.

"I joined the military and pledged to give my life in the defense of the freedom of speech and someone's right to burn the flag. But, they better not burn it around me or I will beat the bejesus out of them."

America For Sale

I am all for an open market and free trade. I believe that multinational corporations, while having some serious flaws, do play an important role in making individual nations more interdependent and thus, leads to political stability through economic means. But, I have serious problems with a state owned Chinese oil company from purchasing one of ours. Yesterday, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation ( CNOOC), offered $18.5 billion to purchase Unocal Oil Corporation. This tops a prior bid by Chevron by $1.6 billion.

While world markets must be open to foreign investment, our energy sector is our biggest Achilles heal when it comes to our national security. Not only would this deal further deepen our trade deficit, but would also increase our dependence on China, who is next in line to challenge the U.S. in world hegemony.

Chinese Oil Giant in Takeover Bid for U.S. Corporation

Published: June 23, 2005
SHANGHAI, Thursday, June 23 - One of China's largest state-controlled oil companies made a $18.5 billion unsolicited bid Thursday for Unocal, signaling the first big takeover battle by a Chinese company for an American corporation.

The bold bid, by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation ( CNOOC), may be a watershed in Chinese corporate behavior, and it demonstrates the increasing influence on Asia of Wall Street's bare-knuckled takeover tactics.

The offer is also the latest symbol of China's growing economic power and of the soaring ambitions of its corporate giants, particularly when it comes to the energy resources it needs desperately to continue feeding its rapid growth.

CNOOC's bid, which comes two months after Unocal agreed to be sold to Chevron, the American energy giant, for $16.4 billion, is expected to incite a potentially costly bidding war over the California-based Unocal, a large independent oil company. CNOOC said its offer represents a premium of about $1.5 billion over the value of Unocal's deal with Chevron after a $500 million breakup fee.

Moreover, the effort is likely to provoke a fierce debate in Washington about the nation's trade policies with China and the role of the two governments in the growing trend of deal making between companies in the countries.

This week, a consortium of investors led by the Haier Group, one of China's biggest companies, moved to acquire the Maytag Corporation, the American appliance maker, for about $1.3 billion, surpassing a bid from a group of American investors.

Last month, Lenovo, China's largest computer maker, completed its $1.75 billion deal for I.B.M.'s personal computer business, creating the world's third-largest computer maker after Dell and Hewlett-Packard.

(Full Story)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

And so, the Theocracy Begins

Maxed Out Moma, a very respectable blogger, has told me time in and time out that there is no fear of a right wing rise of theocracy in this country. Well, I hate to tell you MOM, but it has already begun.

As I fist pointed out in an earlier post that the Republicans are trying to make it illegal for the courts to rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (H.R. 3313 & H.R.1100), now, I find even more disturbing bills. H.R. 1070 was presented to Congress on March 3, 2005. The text of the bill is as follows:

Sec. 1260. Matters not reviewable

`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.'.

This means that no court shall be able to review the constitutionality of a law that is based on religious law. The bible can be enacted as the sovereign source of law in any Federal, State, or local Municipality and the Supreme Court cannot not rule that it is a violation of the First Amendment. If passed, this is the end of the Bill of Rights.

Even further disturbing is that this bill has 34 co-sponsors (not surprisingly, all but 2 are from below the Mason-Dixon line). So ends religious freedom, and so begins the American Taliban (and no, I do not say this lightly).

GOP War on PBS (Part II)

As Americans rally behind PBS in order to save it from the Republican onslaught, I continue with my coverage of the War On PBS.

As I noted in Part I, the majority of Americans not only cherish the programming produced by PBS, they also believe that it is a fair and balanced media source. But that doesn't stop the GOP from trying to subvert PBS's independence and impartiality.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the Chairman of CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting - parent of PBS and NPR) and staunch conservative, has taken it upon himself to remove any hint of liberalism from PBS. Recently, Mary C. Andrews was appointed to the position of ombudsman to oversee the programming is fair and balanced. This raises several issues. First, Ms. Andrews has no experience in such a position. Second, Ms. Andrews was hired directly out of the Bush White House and was working for PBS while still working for the White House as a communications director. This is not only highly suspect after seeing how the White House likes to pay reporters for propaganda pieces, but goes against the charter of PBS as an independent and impartial organization.

Tomlinson repeatedly denied having any contact with Ms. Andrews while she was working in the White House, but e-mails prove he was lying. Tomlinson directed then president, Kathleen Cox, to send e-mails to Ms. Andrews White House address so she could work at both the White House as a communication director and at CPB as a monitor of impartiality. The conflicts are obvious. To this point, it is unclear what role the White House had in creating the new ombudsman position, but it is clear that the White House did insist Ms. Andrews job title was "senior adviser to the president."

Additional to the ombudsman link to the White House, Tomlinson has also appointed Patricia Harrison as the new president of CPB. Ms. Harrison is the Assistant Secretary of State, and the former Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee. Harrison has spent much of her past raising money for the GOP and attacking the Clintons. She speciffically targeted Hiliary in her New York Senatorial compeign. It is ludicrous to name such a obviously partisan figure to a position that requires impartiality. She has no experiance in broadcasting of any sort and con only be there to slant CBP to the right.

But the problems don't stop there. Tomlinson, without the consent or even the notification of the CPB board, decided to monitor what he felt was PBS's most liberal show. Tomlinson paid a Republican lobbyist $15,000 of taxpayer money to watch and report on the liberal bias of PBS's NOW show. Not only is this unethical, but it is possibly illegal under the CPB charter. He paid $15,000 for Republicans to watch the show when it was just as easy for him to do it in the first place.

As noted in Part I, the majority of Americans not only believe PBS is fair and balanced, but is the most trustworthy media outlet in America. But, fair and balanced is not what Republicans want. They will not be happy until PBS is FOX's conservative counter part on the airwaves.


1 -Official Had Aide Send Data to White House

2 -Tomlinson choice for CPB head is GOP partisan who oversees Bush international propaganda effort

3 -The Leaning Tower of PBS

4 -US Senate Letter to Kennith Tomlinson

5 -A Different Reception For Public Broadcasting

6 -CPB Chairman's E-Mails Cite White House Authority

7 -Inquiry Targets Possible CPB Ties to Lobbyists

8 -Leaked emails prove CPB chairman Tomlinson misrepresented prior contact with White House

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Pirvate Accounts for SSI Now Dead

It looks like Bush is conceding that his push for personal accounts attached to SSI is as about as viable as a "We Love Osama Day" being passed as a national holiday. Bush is backing Utah Sen. Bob Bennett's plan which does not include personal accounts. I do not know the details of the plan, but Bennett is claiming that he already has some Democratic support. Hopefully, now we can get through some of the partisan gridlock and start working on shoring up SSI.

Bush Backs Soc. Sec. Bill Without Accounts
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
54 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush encouraged a Republican senator on Tuesday to offer Social Security legislation that would not include private investment accounts. The White House said the president still was committed to allowing workers to invest part of their Social Security taxes.

Bush's nod to Utah Sen. Bob Bennett's plan comes as public polls show that most Americans do not support the president's handling of the Social Security issue. Congress has been deadlocked on it.

Bennett said that during a luncheon with other Republican senators at the White House, he told the president of his plans to introduce the bill as early as next week.

"He indicated that I should go forward and do that," Bennett said. "And I'm grateful to have him do that even though his own preference would be to have personal accounts included."

The White House said the president is encouraging all members of Congress to offer their ideas to make the Social Security system solvent.

"This in no way should be interpreted to mean that the president is backing off of personal accounts," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. "He is not."

Since the beginning of his second term, Bush has been pushing to allow younger workers to create voluntary personal accounts funded out of their Social Security payroll taxes. Democrats accuse the White House of seeking to privatize the Depression-era program and have been unified in opposition to the idea.

"I've decided that the Democrats have made it clear that they will not back personal accounts," Bennett said outside the White House. "And in response to the president's position that let's try to get something done, I will be proposing a bill that does not include personal accounts."

Bennett said some Democrats have told him privately that they would support such a bill, but he is not sure how many will be on board publicly now that he's introducing the legislation. He said he is looking for Democrats to co-sponsor the bill, but he didn't have any to announce Tuesday.

(Full Story)

Rush the A-Hole

Are you freak'n kidding me. Rush Limbaugh talks about supporting the troops on the front line, and he does it like this? Yes, that is right, Rush is now making a buck off the prisoners at Gitmo and putting our troops at risk from more retribution by selling "Club Gitmo" Tee-shits and caps.

Why just condone torture when you can glorify it! They have nice little slogans like:

NEW! The Club G'itmo T-Shirt - I Got My Free Koran and Prayer Rug at G'itmo

NEW! The Club G'itmo T-Shirt - What Happens in G'itmo Stays in G'itmo

The Club G'itmo T-Shirt - Your Tropical Retreat from the Stress of Jihad

The Club G'itmo T-Shirt - My Mullah went to Club G'itmo and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

and don't forget your Jihad Java Cafe coffee mug and Club Gitmo baseball hat.

You can say whatever you want about Durbin and Amnesty International, but this is truly disgusting. I guess for Rush, there is nothing more patriotic than inciting more Muslims to go blow up our men and women in uniform. Any American asshole enough to purchase one of these shirts should be sent to Gitmo themselves. I have no idea how Rush sleeps at night... Oh, thats right, by takeing large amounts of black market prescription drugs.

H/T Blondsense

Republican = Nazis Democrats = Satanists

Luckily, I was at my college reunion last weekend and missed the whole Durbin debacle. But, luckily, I came back in time for the Hostettler debacle. Yesterday, one of the king wingnuts, Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.) accused Democrats of "denigrating and demonizing Christians." This was in response to a Democratic amendment proposed to the military appropriations bill to ensure religious tolerance at the Air Force Academy.

Hostettler remarked on the House floor

"the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives" and "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats... Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians," he said.

This is coming from such a loony, he was arrested for taking a gun onto a commerical plane, and he actually amended the Defense of Marriage Act to make it illegal for any court to judge the constitutionality of the act (H.R. 3313 & H.R. 1100).

Title: To amend title 28, United States Code, to limit Federal court jurisdiction over questions under the Defense of Marriage Act.

Not only is this one of the most brazen attacks on the constitution, it actually passed almost exactly down party lines (I would like to note one of the few sane Republicans to vote against it was my Congressman, Chris Shays). Can you imagine this? The Supreme Court not being allowed to decide the constitutionality of a law? This is one of the most scary situations imaginable. Imagine if the Supreme Court was not allowed to rule on the constitutionality of segregation laws.... Where would this country be now?

With this kind of law making, we might as well throw out the Bill of Rights, because nothing can be protected any longer. Next up H.R. 3314, the Defense of America Act:

Any person publicly disagreeing with the presidents agenda is a punishable offense of up to 10 years and prison and/or $250,000 fine. Federal courts will have no jurisdiction over questions under the Defense of America Act.

Then, H.R. 3315, the Defense of Our Christian Heritage Act:

Due to the heritage of Christianity in our nation, all persons are required to abandon all other religions and pray only to the one true God. Federal courts will have no jurisdiction over questions under the Defense of Our Christian Heritage Act.

Hostettler also led the House passage of a bill that would make it illegal for the federal government to spend any money to enforce court rulings when it comes to religious issues. Specifically, he targeted the Alabama court house where Judge Roy Moore placed the Ten Commandments and any enforcement to keep religion out of public schools. Once again, think of the implications of this. Unconstitutional laws with no way to enforce them from going into effect. Once again, imagine if the Congress passed a law that made it impossible for Eisenhower to send in troops to desegregate the southern universities. With people like Hostettler in office, we are no longer have the rule of law, but the rule of men. He is creating the tyranny that our founders fought against.

Screw the "freedom isn't free" lines... with the GOP, "freedom isn't real." Some of you may believe that Christian Congressmen like Hostettler are protecting your freedom of religion, but he is actually chipping away at it. Without the protection of the courts, there is no constitutional guarantee that freedom of religion will exist. There is no guarantee that freedom of speech will exist. He is not protecting America, he is destroying it from within.

GOP's War on PBS (Part I)

I recently read a blog that claimed Republicans were more moderate and reasonable... I laughed (no side is more or less then the other). There has never been more of an agenda driven push to consolidate power into the hands of one group of people and to turn this into a one party system. There has been the attempt to emasculate the judicial branch. There has been the purge of Democratic bureaucrats. There has been the intimidation of the private sector in DC to only hire Republicans. Now, they are trying to turn PBS and NPR in to a right wing propaganda machine. Because of a very few Republicans perception that public broadcasting is liberal, they are trying to re-invent it in a new conservative model. So, I have decided to write a multipart post on the GOP effort to eliminate of subvert the independence of public broadcasting.

Last week, House Republicans decided to cut all funding for PBS educational programming (e.g. Sesame Street). Apparently, they feel that free educational programming may take away from some of their cronies trying to make a buck. They would prefer that your kids watching TV are bombarded with 1 out of every 5 minutes of advertising for choco-marshmello sugar puffs and the latest kung-fu grip action figure. Is it any wonder that the majority of Americans don't think that the Republican controlled White House and Congress do not share the same priorities as the rest of us.

Additional to the slashing of PBS's budget, Republicans are also attempting to control the content of PBS programming because they feel it is too liberal. Again, I laughed.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (parent of PBS and NPR) has long contended that there is a liberal bias in public broadcasting. To prove this, he commissioned 2 separate surveys. Both of them came back showing the exact opposite. Tomlinson has continued to withhold the full survey findings, but what was released of the study by Terrance Group and Lake, Snell, Perry & Associated showed that
"both surveys confirm the same thing: The majority of the US adult population does not believe that the news and information programming on public broadcasting is biased. The plurality of Americans indicate that there is no apparent bias one way of the other..."

In fact, only 21% of the respondents thought there was a liberal bias, and 12% thought there was a conservative bias. Compare this to a November 2002 survey that showed that 31% of Americans thought that ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN had a liberal bias.

The study of a focus group
"helped confirm a common hypothesis: there is a core segment of the population that will always contend that all news media is biased no matter what. In other words, many people are simply 'jumping on the bandwagon' and saying PBS and/or NPR are biased only because they believe all news media are biased..."

the survey found that a full 48% of people found no bias one way or another with the next largest group having "no opinion"

The next important aspect is the coverage of the war in Iraq. Fewer that 15% of Americans say that PBS and NPR's coverage of the war and the Bush Administration is slanted.

But then, the survey gets even worse for Tomlinson. Over 50% of Americans feel PBS and NPR news is more trustworthy than other networks like CNN and FOX news (total number not yet disclosed by Tomlinson). Only 15% thought the news was less trustworthy.

As for the aspect of "family values" that Republicans are always talking about, 92% of Americans say PBS is a safe place for children to watch television (but Republicans are trying to kill childrens' educational programming). And 90% of Americans feel that PBS provides high quality programming overall. 89% feel PBS is a valuable cultural resource. 80% feel the programming reflect the diversity and character of America. 80% feel the programming is fair and balanced (lets see FOX get those numbers). 78% feel it is important for the federal government to support PBS/NPR financially so it can continue to offer its programming.

What about the fact that it is partially funded by taxpayers. Well, only 10% think the per capita expenditure of $1.30 is "too much" while 48% think it is "too little." 35% said it was "about right." For those that still believed that PBS/NPR had a liberal bias, 67% of them believed that the amount of money spent was too little or about right. Fewer than 20% of Republicans feel the funding is too much.

For me, my $1.30 per year is spent well on the advertising free family program and objective news programming on PBS. I urge everyone to support public broadcasting by contacting there Congressmen to insist that the funding for family programming be re-instated into PBS's budget.

Monday, June 20, 2005

More Reasons Not to Confirm Bolton

Now that Bolton has left the State Department, it appears that things are actually getting done with his "hard charging" personality out of the way. Now that Bolton is gone, the US has finally been able to mend some ties with Russia and make a break through on securing Russian nuclear fuel so as to keep it out of the hands of terrorists. This deal was one of the jobs Bolton was entrusted with, but his acerbic personality was the roadblock to any agreements being reached.

You cannot bull dog your way through diplomacy. That is why we cannot confirm Bolton to the UN post. The job calls for a pragmatic diplomat who actually knows how to be diplomatic.

Policy Shifts Felt After Bolton's Departure From State Dept.

By Peter Baker and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 20, 2005; Page A02

For years, a key U.S. program intended to keep Russian nuclear fuel out of terrorist hands has been frozen by an arcane legal dispute. As undersecretary of state, John R. Bolton was charged with fixing the problem, but critics complained he was the roadblock.

Now with Bolton no longer in the job, U.S. negotiators report a breakthrough with the Russians and predict a resolution will be sealed by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin at an international summit in Scotland next month, clearing the way to eliminate enough plutonium to fuel 8,000 nuclear bombs.

The prospective revival of the plutonium disposal project underlines a noticeable change since Bolton's departure from his old job as arms control chief. Regardless of whether the Senate confirms him as U.N. ambassador during a scheduled vote today, fellow U.S. officials and independent analysts said his absence has already been felt at the State Department.

Without the hard-charging Bolton around, the Bush administration not only has moved to reconcile with Russia over nuclear threat reduction but also has dropped its campaign to oust the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and made common cause with European allies in offering incentives to Iran to persuade it to drop any ambitions for nuclear weapons.

Bolton had also resisted using the so-called New York channel for communications with North Korea, a one-on-one meeting used sporadically through Bush's presidency and most recently revived in May. And fellow U.S. officials said Bolton had opposed a new strategic opening to India offering the prospect of sharing civilian nuclear technology, a move made in March.

For some of Bolton's fans, the changes appear worrisome, signs perhaps that the Bush administration may water down some of its most principled stands without a vocal advocate in the inner policymaking circle. But for many arms-control advocates and even fellow diplomats, Bolton's departure is a welcome relief and an opportunity to restore a more pragmatic approach to international relations.

"Throughout his career in the first Bush administration, he was always playing the stopper role for a lot of different issues and even when there was obvious interest by the president in moving things forward, Bolton often found ways of stopping things by tying the interagency process in knots," said Rose Gottemoeller, a Clinton administration official who worked on nonproliferation issues. "That's the situation we're seeing dissipate now."

Whether the shifting policies reflect Bolton's absence or his absence reflects shifting policies remains a point of debate. When she took over as secretary of state in January, Condoleezza Rice moved to sideline Bolton and reverse some of his approaches, U.S. officials said. By proposing him for the United Nations, she effectively moved him out of the policymaking center at the department's Foggy Bottom headquarters.

(Full Story)

No Pullout of Iraq

I believe the war in Iraq was a miserable show of judgment and planning. I believe the war in Iraq has made us less secure than prior to it. I believe the spread of democracy could have been more effectively achieved through other means (stepping up pressure on Saudi Arabia and supporting Lebanon). I believe the war in Iraq has drained our coffers and dampened our domestic agenda. I believe the war in Iraq will embolden Iran to continue its quest for nuclear weapons.

But, pulling out of Iraq now is not an option. Iraq would descend even further into civil war and utter chaos. Until Iraq is stabilized, we cannot remove our troops. We need to continue to support our troops and objective until our job is done.

Bush: Pulling Out of Iraq Not an Option
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 18, 8:22 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush said Saturday that pulling out of Iraq now is not an option, rejecting calls by some lawmakers and many people asked in polls to start bringing U.S. troops home.

"The terrorists and insurgents are trying to get us to retreat. Their goal is to get us to leave before Iraqis have had a chance to show the region what a government that is elected and truly accountable to its citizens can do for its people," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"We will settle for nothing less than victory" over terrorists there, he said later.

Bush's radio address is part of a series of appearances and speeches in the coming weeks aimed at countering poll ratings that are near their lowest levels on both the Iraq war and the economy. Bush said his administration is committed to success in both areas of concern for Americans.

About six in 10 in a Gallup poll taken in early June said the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops — the highest level of support for withdrawing U.S. troops since the war began.
(Full Story)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'm off for a long weekend. Everyone have fun without me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Glad He's My Dad

Here is a meme passed along to me from Smokey for a salute to our fathers.

For me, my father is more than just a father, he is a mentor, a role model, and a friend. There is no question in my mind that I am the most important person in the world to him (being an only child makes this acceptable :) He has been there for every aspect of my life. He has been my personal coach in almost ever sport I have played, taking the time to pitch hundreds of baseballs, retrieve hundreds of discus, and even built a hockey rink in our back yard (although I was still responsible to shoveling all the snow and resealing the concrete every summer). He has never pushed me to do anything, but also never accepted mediocrity in anything I did and never accepted a "stupid" kid. He has always fostered my curiosity and my creativity. In his profession as a college football coach and an intellectual, he has taught me that a jock does not need to be brain dead, and a bookworm can still know how to throw a football. I think one of the greatest things he has done was when I ever asked "why", he never said, "just because I said so." I have to admit I have a little lump in my throat as I write this, think about what a wonderful father he has been. If I am half the father to my children as he has been to me, they will still be lucky.

Happy Father Day, dad, and thank you.

Ok, now to pass this on. First to MOM, since she hit me with one a couple weeks ago. Siggy, because he can't go more than two minutes without getting all contemplative anyway. And, Boomr, if you would like to do one for your dad, I'll post it for you.

Surprise! Surprise!

Well, not actually. Would it surprise anyone that the man who was editing government scientist's reports to appear move favorable to the oil & gas industry would go to work for the oil and gas industry a week after being forced to resign. This surprises me about as much as when the esteemed Congressman from Louisiana who added the provision that made it illegal for the US government to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare, retired from Congress and is now being paid $2 million a year to lobby for the pharmaceutical companies.

Ex-White House Official to Join Fuel Co. By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - A former White House official and one-time oil industry lobbyist whose editing of government reports on climate change prompted criticism from environmentalists will join Exxon Mobil Corp., the oil company said Tuesday.

The White House announced over the weekend that Philip Cooney, chief of staff of its Council on Environmental Quality, had resigned, calling it a long-planned departure. He had been head of the climate program at the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for large oil companies.

Cooney will join Exxon Mobile in the fall, company spokesman Russ Roberts told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from its Dallas headquarters. He declined to described Cooney's job.

Cooney could not be reached through the White House for comment.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Cooney's departure was "completely unrelated" to the disclosure two days earlier that he had made changes in several government climate change reports that were issued in 2002 and 2003.

"Mr. Cooney has long been considering his options following four years of service to the administration," Perino said. "He'd accumulated many weeks of leave and decided to resign and take the summer off to spend time with his family."

The White House made no mention of Cooney's plans to join Exxon Mobil, the world's largest oil company. Its executives have been among the most skeptical in the oil industry about the prospects of climate change because of a growing concentration of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The leading greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

Like the Bush administration, Exxon Mobil Chairman Lee Raymond has argued strongly against the Kyoto climate accord and has raised questions about the certainty of climate science as it relates to possible global warming. Greenpeace and other environmental groups have singled out Raymond and Exxon Mobil for protests because of its position on climate change.

Last week, the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group that helps whistleblowers, made available documents showing that Cooney was closely involved in final editing of two administration climate reports. He made changes that critics said consistently played down the certainty of the science surrounding climate change.

(Full Story)

Don't Know Much 'Bout Biology

And they say there is no respect for teachers anymore. In some cultures, this is done as a sign of great admiration... or was that spitting?... either way.

Teen Charged After Vomiting on Teacher
OLATHE, Kan. - A high school student who vomited on his Spanish teacher has been charged with battery against a school official. The misdemeanor charge was filed Monday against the Olathe Northwest High School student.

The 17-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile and his name was not released.

Rick Guinn, an assistant district attorney, said witnesses can corroborate that the boy intentionally vomited on teacher David Young.

If convicted, the boy likely would face probation, Guinn said. Prosecutors also are seeking an apology.

"I think a message is being sent by both the school district and the district attorney that this behavior will not be tolerated," Young said.

(Full Story)

H/T Linnet

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Chariman Speaks

I have been pretty busy today, and used up what little time I did have commenting on other blogs today, but I did want to post this interesting article about comments from Alan Greenspan.

Rich-poor gap gaining attention

By Peter Grier, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Tue Jun 14, 4:00 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself.

Is that a liberal's talking point? Sure. But it's also a line from the recent public testimony of a champion of the free market: Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

America's powerful central banker hasn't suddenly lurched to the left of Democratic National Committee chief Howard Dean. His solution is better education today to create a flexible workforce for tomorrow - not confiscation of plutocrats' yachts.

But the fact that Mr. Greenspan speaks about this topic at all may show how much the growing concentration of national wealth at the top, combined with the uncertainties of increased globalization, worries economic policymakers as they peer into the future.

"He is the conventional wisdom," says Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. "When I'm arguing with people, I say, 'Even Alan Greenspan....' "

Greenspan's comments at a Joint Economic Committee hearing last week were typical, for him. Asked a leading question by Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record) (D) of Rhode Island, he agreed that over the past two quarters hourly wages have shown few signs of accelerating. Overall employee compensation has gone up - but mostly due to a surge in bonuses and stock-option exercises.

The Fed chief than added that the 80 percent of the workforce represented by nonsupervisory workers has recently seen little, if any, income growth at all. The top 20 percent of supervisory, salaried, and other workers has.

The result of this, said Greenspan, is that the US now has a significant divergence in the fortunes of different groups in its labor market. "As I've often said, this is not the type of thing which a democratic society - a capitalist democratic society - can really accept without addressing," Greenspan told the congressional hearing.

The cause of this problem? Education, according to Greenspan. Specifically, high school education. US children test above world average levels at the 4th grade level, he noted. By the 12th grade, they do not. "We have to do something to prevent that from happening," said Greenspan.

So are liberals overjoyed by these words from a man who is the high priest of capitalism? Not really, or at least not entirely.
(Full Story)

Monday, June 13, 2005

Jackson Not Guilty

On all counts.

Chemical Design

This is a funny littel spoof on the 'science vs. religion' arguement going on about the teaching of creationism in science classes. It gave me a chuckle.

Teaching Mendeleev splits Oregon Town

Reichard Ranh
Trofim Lysenko Fellow of the reDiscovery Institute

Reprinted from The reDiscovery Institute Proceedings, 2005

PHILOMATH, OREGON. The grassy fields and gray frame houses appear peaceful, but this Oregon town is at war. The war is over the teaching of Mendeleevist Chemistry and Chemical Design in the public schools.

This spring the school board voted that high school chemistry teachers should allow students to question Mendeleev's Periodic Table, and offer alternative explanations for chemical bonding and reactivity. Since then the city been deeply divided.

In May the school board ordered teachers to tell students that Mendeleevism is not proven. They encouraged teachers to expose students to an alternate theory, "Chemical Design." This more modern theory posits that a designer or creator is responsible for the properties of chemicals and molecules. The school district has placed "Truth Labels' on classroom periodic tables.

"Mendeleev's theory is just a theory ... not a fact," the school board declared in their statement to teachers. "The theory has been mutated to the extent that Mendeleev would not even recognize the current periodic table. Changes include renumbering the elements by atomic number instead of atomic mass, and the addition of entire rows and columns. Chemical Design is an alternative explanation for chemical properties, that differs from Mendeleev's view," states the report.

Chemical Design proponents have a new rallying point: the reDiscovery Institute, a public policy forum based in Tacoma, Washington. The intelligent design movement is scientific research investigating the effects of intelligent causes on naturalistic bonding theories. Dr. Azo Mazur, a Senior Fellow of the reDiscovery Institute, and a well-known advocate of the Chemical Design Theories, notes that the goal is to allow teachers to teach the best science. He believes teachers need to teach that Chemical Periodicity is simply a theory and that other theories can also explain the data...

But pastor and parent Ray Bummer, 54, explained their point.

"If we continue to indoctrinate our young people with non-religious principles, we're headed for an internal destruction of this society," he said. "Chemical Periodicity is just a theory and there are other theories," Bummer explained.

"There is such a complexity in chemistry, and secular science wants to hang its hat on a belief that molecules somehow just form -- they say there is no creator, no order ... I believe there is a creator," he said.

(Full Story)

H/T ReDiscovery via Red State Rabble

It's Good to be the King

This is one of those situations where you don't know if you should laugh or you should cry - from the polygamy to the 'new' constitution.

Swazi king waits two weeks for wife No. 12

MBABANE, Swaziland (Reuters) -- Swaziland's King Mswati III took an 18-year-old former Miss Teen Swaziland finalist as his 12th wife during the weekend, barely two weeks after marrying his 11th, media in the tiny African kingdom said.

Nothando Dube was selected as Mswati's fiancee after last year's Reed Dance, an event where thousands of maidens dance bare breasted in honor of the Queen Mother and where Mswati has chosen wives in the past.

The Times of Swaziland's Sunday edition quoted Mswati's traditional prime minister, Jim Gama, as saying that Dube's nuptials had been concluded Saturday night.

Palace officials were unavailable for confirmation on Monday, when Mswati was due to leave on an overseas trip.

In late May, Mswati married his 11th wife, 20-year-old Nolichwa Ntenesa, who was also selected during a Reed Dance.

Mswati, 37, has drawn criticism for spending money on luxury cars while many of his 1.1 million subjects struggle by on food aid, ravaged by the world's highest rate of HIV/AIDS which affects around two in every five adults.

Mswati early in June said he was not sub-Saharan Africa's only absolute monarch, contending that although political parties were banned in Swaziland, he only made decisions after consulting with the people.

In 1973 Mswati's father, Sobhuza, whose authorized biography says he had 45 official wives, tore up the constitution of the former British protectorate, sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique.

Mswati's officials are drafting a new constitution, which is set to uphold the ban on political parties.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday Humor

George Bush is visiting the Queen of England.
He asks her, "Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient
government? Are there any tips you can give me?"

"Well," says the Queen, "the most important thing is to surround
yourself with intelligent people."

Bush frowns. "But how do I know the people around me are really

The Queen takes a sip of tea. "Oh, that's easy. You just ask them to
answer an intelligence riddle.

The Queen pushes a button on her intercom. "Please send The Prime
Minister in here, would you?"

Tony Blair walks into the room. "Your Majesty..."

The Queen smiles. "Answer me this, please, Tony. Your mother and father
have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is

Without pausing for a moment, Blair answers, "That would be me!"

"Yes! Very good!" says the Queen.

Back at the White House, Bush calls in his vice president, Dick Cheney.
"Dick, answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child.
It's not your brother and it's not your sister. Who is it?"

"I'm not sure," says the vice president. "Let me get back to you on
that one."

Dick Cheney goes to his advisers and asks every one, but none can give
him an answer.

Finally, he ends up in the men's room and recognizes Colin Powell's
shoes in the next stall. Dick shouts, "Colin! Can you answer this for
me? Your mother and father have a child and it's not your brother or your
sister. Who is it?"

Colin Powell yells back, "That's easy. It's me!"

Dick Cheney smiles. "Thanks!"

Cheney goes back to the Oval Office and asks to speak with Bush.
"Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It's Colin

Bush gets up, stomps over to Dick Cheney, and angrily yells into his
face, "No, you idiot! It's Tony Blair!"

H/T Dad

Republicans Want to Serve Big Bird Up for Thanksgiving Dinner

Your family friendly GOP wants to eliminate PBS from the air within two years. This year, the subcommittee that oversees its budget have proposed cutting PBS's budget by 25%, with complete elimination of funds two years later.

But don't worry. Who really needs Sesame Street when you still have Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh to teach you kids good moral values.

Public Broadcasting Targeted By House
Panel Seeks to End CPB's Funding Within 2 Years

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 10, 2005; Page A01

A House subcommittee voted yesterday to sharply reduce the federal government's financial support for public broadcasting, including eliminating taxpayer funds that help underwrite such popular children's educational programs as "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," "Arthur" and "Postcards From Buster."

In addition, the subcommittee acted to eliminate within two years all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which passes federal funds to public broadcasters -- starting with a 25 percent reduction in CPB's budget for next year, from $400 million to $300 million.

In all, the cuts would represent the most drastic cutback of public broadcasting since Congress created the nonprofit CPB in 1967. The CPB funds are particularly important for small TV and radio stations and account for about 15 percent of the public broadcasting industry's total revenue.

Expressing alarm, public broadcasters and their supporters in Congress interpreted the move as an escalation of a Republican-led campaign against a perceived liberal bias in their programming. That effort was initiated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's own chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson.

"Americans overwhelmingly see public broadcasting as an unbiased information source," Rep. David Obey (Wis.), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, said in a statement. "Perhaps that's what the GOP finds so offensive about it. Republican leaders are trying to bring every facet of the federal government under their control. . . . Now they are trying to put their ideological stamp on public broadcasting."

(Full Story)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Roll'n, Roll'n, Roll'n... Get Those Fairies Move'n... Rawhide!!!

As NBC5 reports, Texas Governor Perry claims Texas is no place for homosexuals... It's time to pick up and move to Vermont, Mary. Head north young man... and, err... other young man.
"Texans have made a decision about marriage and if there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas then maybe that's a better place for them to live," Perry said.

This was at the Texas constitutional amendment signing that bans same-sex marriage.

H/T Faerietales

Update: Perry has also changed the official state motto from "The only thing that comes from Texas is steers and queers" to "Texas - if you don't like 'em... beat 'em"

Judge Adds Jail Time for Texas Men Who Beat Black Man

This is after 4 white men beat a mentaly retarded black man and left him laying on a fire ant hill in the middle of a field. The Texas jury recommended no jail time for the assault. Too bad the black man was not a fetus because then the bigots would have got a life sentence.

No offense, Smokey, I don't make the news, just report it.

GOP Lackey

Talk about being in the back pocket of industry... Representative Pet Sessions (R-Texas), introduced the Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005, which would make it illegal for a State or local Municipalities to provide free Wi-Fi services in city centers such as parks. I wonder how much money the Telecom industry has donated to his campaign coffers? He is, after all, a former employee of Southwestern Bell.

Federal Anti-Municipal Wi-Fi Bill Introduced

H/T Daily Kos

The US and the ICC

I saw this quote on one of my favorite blogs - Maxed Out Mama - about the International Criminal Court.

"Anyone that can’t understand why the US should not join the International Criminal Court should be able to figure it out now."

It was in relation to a Spanish Judge wanting to question some US Soldiers in relation to the death of Spanish soldiers. It was off base because the Spanish judge had nothing to do with the ICC. But, it also showed the general misunderstanding of the ICC in relation to prosecution of US soldiers. It has been the argument from the right as to why we should not join the ICC. It is an argument that is wholly unfounded. The Rome Statute that set the rules of the court specifically exempts its jurisdiction from any signatory state that is willing to investigate and hold accountable their own citizens

Article 17
Issues of admissibility

1. Having regard to paragraph 10 of the Preamble and article 1, the Court shall determine that a case is inadmissible where:
(a) The case is being investigated or prosecuted by a State which has jurisdiction over it, unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution;
(b) The case has been investigated by a State which has jurisdiction over it and the State has decided not to prosecute the person concerned, unless the decision resulted from the unwillingness or inability of the State genuinely to prosecute;

(c) The person concerned has already been tried for conduct which is the subject of the complaint, and a trial by the Court is not permitted under article 20, paragraph 3;

(d) The case is not of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the Court.

The argument that US soldiers would be brought before the ICC for perceived or real human rights abuses is complete false and without merit. Even as an ICC member, the US would retain its right to investigate, prosecute, convict or acquit our own military personnel. Arguing that the US military would be beholden to a world court is just another attempt at misleading the American people.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

That's It?

This is all Bush and Blair could muster to answer questions about the Downing Street Memo, the British memo that alleges that the British government knew that Bush was deliberately lying to the American people. The best they could do from this:

"The so-called Downing Street memo from July 2002 says intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy of removing Saddam through military action," Holland mused to both leaders. "Is this an accurate reflection of what happened?"

is this:
"Well, I can respond to that very easily," he said, before Bush could open his mouth. "No, the facts were not being fixed, in any shape or form at all."
Bush started out by suggesting that the memo wasn't credible because British media had "dropped it out in the middle of his [Blair's] race." Skipping any discussion of the intelligence, Bush said he had not settled on war from the start. "There's nothing farther from the truth," he asserted. "My conversations with the prime minister was, how can we do this peacefully?"

I deliberately didn't blog on the Downing Street Memo because I wanted to have some sort of better commentary first that explained it, but Bush and Blair dropped the ball on this one. For me, this confirms the validity of the memo.

Memo: Bush manipulated Iraq intel

Seldom-Discussed Elephant Moves Into Public's View

White House Still Stalling on Bolton Papers

Senate Democrats have pledged to hold an up or down vote on the Bolton nomination to the UN as soon as the White House offers up evidence the Senate has been requesting for the past several months. The White House has again rejected Senator Dodd's (D-CT) attempt at compromise. While the White House tries to blame the hold up on Democrats, it has only itself to blame for the delay.

Senate Impasse on Bolton Persists
The White House rejects Democrats' proposal to obtain information on the U.N. nominee. The GOP seeks the 60 votes needed to end debate.

By Mary Curtius, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Senate standoff over John R. Bolton's nomination as ambassador to the United Nations continued Tuesday, with the administration rejecting what Democrats said was their latest compromise offer.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) searched for the 60 votes he would need to cut off debate on the nomination, but it was unclear whether he would seek a Senate vote this week or delay the confirmation battle until at least next week.
Democrats narrowly blocked a confirmation vote on Bolton late last month, saying the administration was unfairly withholding information. At the time, Democrats insisted they would be prepared to vote once the administration answered questions about State Department disputes over Bolton's 2003 congressional testimony on Syria and about top-secret electronic surveillance reports Bolton sought over the last four years.

But prospects of an early vote seemed unlikely Tuesday. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) told colleagues at a closed-door luncheon that the administration had rejected a plan he offered over last week's recess to provide Democrats with information on reports sought by Bolton about National Security Agency intercepts of overseas communications. The agency electronically monitors such contacts on a regular basis.

Although it is not unusual for senior officials to seek edited transcripts of NSA intercepts, Bolton sought unedited versions that included the names of U.S. officials whose conversations were recorded. Democrats have said they want to be sure that Bolton did not do so to intimidate intelligence analysts.

Democrats have pressed for weeks to see the versions of the intercepts given to Bolton. Dodd said he had several conversations with John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence, during the recess. Dodd then proposed in a letter to Negroponte that Democrats would prepare a list of names and submit them to the administration to be checked against the names included in the intercept transcripts provided to Bolton.

Negroponte said, according to Dodd, that he "spoke to higher authorities" and was told the administration could not accept the proposal.

"I got a response saying, 'No, they're done with it,' " Dodd said. "They've said no to everything we've asked for."

The White House dismissed Dodd's appeal as "another political stalling tactic."

"It is just more politics; it's not about documents," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said. "The Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee has already seen the information and said there was nothing improper."

Democrats have complained that the administration has refused to act on their request for the names of those who were monitored. As part of weeks of talks about Bolton, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders were shown the documents with the names edited.

(Full Story)