Friday, September 30, 2005

DeLay Was Invited to Testify on His Own Behalf

It looks like DeLay just can't stop lying to the press. The "Hammer" has been giving interview after interview crying "poor little ol' me. I didn't get to tell the Grand Jury my side of the story."

"Never asking me to testify, never doing anything for two years," DeLay said in the interview. "And then, on the last day of his fourth or sixth grand jury, he indicts me. Why? Because his goal was to make me step down as majority leader."

Turns out, as usual with anything that comes out of his mouth, it is complete bunk. He was invited by the jury to testify. They waited and waited, but he never accepted. That is why the jury waited until the very last day to indict DeLay - they wanted to give him a chance to defend himself.

The foreman, William M. Gibson Jr., a retired state insurance investigator, said the Travis County grand jury waited until Wednesday, the final day of its term, to indict him because it was hoping he would accept jurors' invitation to testify.

Even DeLay's attorney admits that DeLay was invited to testify, but chose to turn down the investigation.

Dick DeGuerin, the attorney representing DeLay, said Thursday that DeLay actually was invited to appear before the grand jury, where he would have been under oath. The Houston attorney was not yet on the legal team when DeLay was asked to appear, but he said other attorneys advised him not to testify — a decision DeGuerin supports.

Someone please take that shovel away from DeLay before he hits China.

Others deny DeLay didn't get chance to tell his side

The Plame Game - Back on Center Stage

If it weren't bad enough for the Republicans these days with DeLay indicted and Frist under SEC investigation, the Valerie Plame investigation is back in full swing with Judy Miller testifying in front of the Grand Jury today. She will confirm that it was Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, who informed her of Plame's identity.

So, now you have Karl Rove talking to Matthew Cooper about Plame's identity and then giving false testimony to the FBI. Now you have Scooter Libby giving the same information to Judy Miller.

Yeah, right, there was noooooo White House revenge game going on here. I am sorry people, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a duck.

But, I am sure Libby has nothing to worry about since Bush flip-flopped on his 2003 pledge to fire anyone involed in the leak.

Times Reporter Free From Jail; She Will Testify


Published: September 30, 2005
WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 - Judith Miller, the reporter for The New York Times who has been jailed since July 6 for refusing to testify in the C.I.A. leak case, was released Thursday from a Virginia detention center after she and her lawyers reached an agreement with a federal prosecutor in which she would testify before a grand jury investigating the case, the publisher and the executive editor of the paper said.

Ms. Miller was freed after spending more than 12 weeks in jail, during which she refused to cooperate with the inquiry. Her decision to testify was made after she had obtained what she described as a waiver offered "voluntarily and personally" by a source who said she was no longer bound by any pledge of confidentiality she had made to him. Ms. Miller said the source had made clear that he genuinely wanted her to testify.

That source was I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, according to people who have been officially briefed on the case. Ms. Miller met with Mr. Libby on July 8, 2003, and talked with him by telephone later that week, they said.

Discussions between officials and journalists that week that may have disclosed the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, Valerie Wilson, have been a central focus of the investigation.

Ms. Miller said in a statement that she expected to appear before the grand jury on Friday. Ms. Miller was released after she and her lawyers met at the jail with Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the case, to discuss her testimony.

(Full Story)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Frist Under Full SEC Investigation

A full SEC probe has been opened into Senator/Dr./Leader Frist's sale of stock two weeks before the price tumbled. This, in conjunction with the DeLay indictment, is shaping up to be a bad week for the 1994 GOP "Contract With America."

As a lawyer who defends companies for exactly the same thing that Frist is being investigated of, I can assure you that the SEC does not open up investigations willy-nilly. Frist may be exonerated in the end, but for the SEC to take this step means this is some serious stuff going on.

SEC Opens Full Probe Into Frist Stock Sale
By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - While insiders at HCA Inc. were selling millions of dollars of their own stock this year, they were also painting a sunny picture of the company's outlook for investors. Federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the sale of HCA stock by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., whose family founded the company that grew into the nation's largest for-profit health care chain.

The SEC turned its initial inquiry into a formal investigation of the company, HCA announced Thursday. The company said it is cooperating with investigators.

Frist's office said Wednesday that he had gotten notice of a formal investigation, which grants subpoena powers to investigators to obtain information and documents.

On June 14, the day after Frist ordered his shares sold, HCA officers at a Goldman Sachs health care conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif., spoke optimistically about the company's prospects.

Victor Campbell, HCA's senior vice president of corporate communications and government relations, soothed investor concerns about unpaid patient debts and worries about patient volumes. He also advocated for a still-pending Senate bill that would limit the establishment of physician-owned specialty hospitals and called Washington "my favorite place ... where I spend at least a day or two a week."

In the month before the speech, Campbell sold about $12 million worth of stock. It was part of a massive insider sell-off at HCA that totaled some $112 million between January and June 2005.

(Full Story)

More GOP Family Values

I tend to respect the views of those I don't agree with (Republicans). While we may disagree on certain things, most of them are honest, hard working, good Americans.

But every once in a while, something comes along that makes me think Republicans are truly evil creatures. This is one of those times, and it was comments made by former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett that caused that lump of vomit return to the back of my throat.

Bill Bennett was responding to a comment from a caller asserting that part of our Social Security troubles is due to the abortions we have had over the past 30 years (i.e. lost revenue). Bennett tied to tie in the claim that crime is down over the past 30 years because of abortion... but, he didn't stop there.

From the September 28 broadcast of Salem Radio Network's Bill Bennett's Morning in America:

But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.

Its good to know that this man has his own conservitive radio talk show. It just warms the cockles of my heart to that crap is being spewed on the air.


DeLay's False Attack

Tom DeLay came out swinging yesterday after he was indicted for criminal conspiracy. He accused Ronnie Earle, the DA prosecuting the case, of being partisan. While Earle admits he is no friend of DeLay, the accusation that Earle is out for partisan gain is completely without merit. Of the 15 public officials that Earle has indicted over the years, 11 out of the 15 were Democrats. Of those Democrats, some were even his friends.

His defenders, however, cite two high-profile prosecutions of Democrats. In late 1990, Earle went after the powerful Texas House speaker, Gib Lewis, who was his friend. Lewis pleaded guilty in 1992 to filing false financial statements and soon retired.

One of Earle's former targets, ex-Attorney General Jim Mattox, defended Earle on the issue of partisainship, eventhough Earle went after Mattox for bribery.

"You might question his competence as district attorney," Mattox told reporters, "but I don't think you could question his motivations as being overly partisan."

Earle even held himself accountable to the law.

Earle even prosecuted himself in 1983, paying a $212 fine for tardy campaign finance disclosure filings.

I think Earle says it best himself.

"Being called vindictive and partisan by Tom DeLay is like being called ugly by a frog."

Earle Has Prosecuted Many Democrats

Houston Chronicle: COPS AND ROBBERS Earle prosecutes Democrats and Republicans alike

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

No Oil Company Left Behind

Even though oil company revenues are up 32 percent, to $7.64 billion, last quarter, and revenues expected to be even higher next quarter amid some of the highest gas prices we have ever seen, the oil companies are still lining up to use Hurricane Katrina and Rita to push even more tax cuts.

Earlier this week groups as diverse as the American Institute of Architects and the American Petroleum Institute were freshening their requests for tax breaks and other favors. The architects changed "Katrina" to "hurricane disaster" in their pitch. [1]

The claim by the oil companies that the price hike is due to reduced production and that they have no control over the soaring prices is complete bunk.

When the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline peaked at $3.07 recently, it was partly because the nation's refineries were receiving an estimated 99 cents on each gallon sold. That was more than three times the amount they earned a year ago when regular unleaded was selling for $1.87. [2]

And it is just not the refineries who are making out like bandits either.

Companies that pump oil from the ground swept in an additional 47 cents on each gallon, a 46 percent jump over the same period. [2]

Some experts don't buy the big oil companies arguments at all

"They obviously are experiencing windfall or excess profits," Dorgan said of the big oil companies. "They are ... profiting in an extraordinary way at the expense of the American consumer."

Some environmental and consumer advocates are urging the government to lower oil-company profits in another way. They want to reduce demand for gasoline, which has been growing in recent years, by requiring vehicles to get better mileage.[2]

But conservation is usually far from the current administrations mind. While Bush has asked Americans to "take less vacations" this year, little else have been done to push conservation.

I guess with people like Cheney helping to shape energy policy, some things are likely never to happen.

"Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." - Dick Cheney [3]

And I guess giving huge tax breaks to oil companies who are already raking in money hand over fist is?

1 - Lobbies Line Up For Relief Riches

2 - Who profits the most when gas prices rise

3 - White House Offers Advice on Saving Gasoline

Tom DeLay Indicted for Criminal Conspiracy

Wow! I really don't know what to say, so I will let the news report do the speaking.

DeLay indicted, will step aside as majority leader

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post.

DeLay's attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today," DeLay said.

GOP congressional officials said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., will recommend that Rep. David Dreier of California step into those duties. Some of the duties may go to the GOP whip, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri. The Republican rank and file may meet as early as Wednesday night to act on Hastert's recommendation.

The charge carries a potential two-year sentence, which forces DeLay to step down under House Republican rules.

"The defendants entered into an agreement with each other or with TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee) to make a political contribution in violation of the Texas election code," says the four-page indictment. "The contribution was made directly to the Republican National Committee within 60 days of a general election."

The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury's term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.

(Full Story)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Republicans are Twice as Efficient as Democrats

Apparently, it is true. Republicans are twice as efficient as Democrats. According to a Washington watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, named the most corrupt members of congress. Of the 13 named, 11 are Republicans and 2 are Democrats. Proving, that it only took Republicans 10 years what it took Democrats 20 years to do - grow corrupt with the power the American people entrusted them with. This is not to say that Democrats are absolved of misdeed, only to say that Republicans will eventually force themselves from power regardless of if the Democrats ever get their act together.

Group Lists 13 'Most Corrupt' in Congress

By Chuck Neubauer, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — A watchdog group, naming what it calls "the 13 most corrupt members of Congress," is calling for ethics investigations of some of the most prominent leaders on Capitol Hill in a report to be released Monday.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says in its report that the 13 members, among them Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), might have violated a variety of congressional ethics rules.

The bipartisan list includes three Californians: Reps. Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy), Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe).

Cunningham is one of two House members whose residences have been searched as part of separate federal criminal investigations. The other, Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), also is named on the watchdog group's list.

Three of those named on the list — Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Reps. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) — were cited for their dealings with onetime super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is the subject of congressional and federal grand jury investigations. Abramoff was indicted last month on fraud charges relating to a Florida business deal. He has pleaded not guilty.

"They all violated ethics rules," Melanie Sloan, the watchdog group's executive director, said of the 13 members of Congress on its list. She criticized both political parties for what she said was a failure to police ethics.

The full list of the Hall of Shame inductees:

• Sen. Bill Frist: The report accuses him of violating federal campaign finance laws in how he disclosed a campaign loan. It also calls for an inquiry over his recent sale of stock in HCA Inc., his family's hospital corporation. The sale has raised questions about possible insider dealing. Frist aides confirmed Friday that the SEC was investigating. They have denied claims of campaign finance violations.

• Rep. Roy Blunt: The report criticizes him for trying to insert provisions into bills that would have benefited, in one case, a client of his lobbyist son and in another case, the employer of his lobbyist girlfriend, now his wife.

• Sen. Conrad Burns: The report says that questions arose over $3 million in appropriations he earmarked for an Indian tribe in Michigan that was a client of lobbyist Abramoff. The senator received substantial campaign contributions from Abramoff and various clients.

"Sen. Burns did nothing wrong, and any accusation to the contrary is pure politics," said James Pendleton, his director of communications. He said Burns had earmarked the appropriation at the request of the Michigan congressional delegation.

• Rep. Bob Ney: The report says the chairman of the House Administration Committee went on a golf outing to Scotland in 2002, arranged by Abramoff, at a time when the congressman was trying to insert a provision into legislation to benefit one of Abramoff's tribal clients.

Ney reported to the House that the trip was paid for entirely by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, which denied paying any of the costs. Ney has said he had been duped by Abramoff.

• Rep. Tom Feeney: The report says he incorrectly reported that a golf trip to Scotland with Abramoff in 2003 was paid for by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which denied it. A Feeney aide said the congressman had been misled. Questions also have arisen about two other privately funded trips.

• Rep. Richard W. Pombo: He paid his wife and brother $357,325 in campaign funds in the last four years, the report says. He also supported the wind-power industry before the Department of Interior without disclosing that his parents received hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from wind-power turbines on their ranch.

Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for Pombo, said that "each of the charges is baseless." He called the watchdog group "a Democratic attack group, and all of their charges should be taken with a grain of salt."

• Rep. Maxine Waters: The report cites a December 2004 Los Angeles Times investigation disclosing how members of the congresswoman's family have made more than $1 million in the last eight years by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that Waters has helped. Before publication of the Times investigation last year, Waters declined to be interviewed, but said of her family members: "They do their business, and I do mine."

• Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.): The report says he encountered controversy over disclosures that Pennsylvania taxpayers paid for his children's schooling while they lived in Virginia. Santorum maintained he did nothing wrong, and has pulled his children out of the school, according to reports.

• Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and William J. Jefferson: Both congressional veterans are under federal investigation.

Cunningham, who has announced that he will not run for reelection, faces questions over his dealings with a defense contractor who allegedly overpaid him when he purchased Cunningham's house. Jefferson is under scrutiny for his role in an overseas business deal. Normally the House ethics committee does not hold inquiries while criminal investigations are underway.

• Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.): The report says that questions have been raised about his private business interests, including a savings and loan in Asheville, N.C., and personal business interests in Russia.

• Rep. Marilyn N. Musgrave (R-Colo.) and Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.): Both second-term House members encountered criticisms tied to campaign activities, the report says.

Musgrave was accused of misusing her congressional office for campaign purposes. Renzi was accused of financing portions of his 2002 campaign with improper loans.
(Full Story)

A Look at the North Korea Deal

Is it disconcerting to anyone else that 2 months after John Bolton leaves his post as Undersecretary of State for Disarmament and Nonproliferation Affairs that there was a break through in negotiations with North Korea on nuclear disarmament? Immediately after John Bolton took the position in 2001, relations began to sour and North Korea restarted its nuclear program. For the next 4 years, there was no progress made, in which time N.K. was able to unseal its plutonium program and enrich enough material for several more bombs. Many of the career diplomats engaged in the N.K. negotiations claimed that the only roadblock to a new deal was John Bolton himself. Now John Bolton is the U.N. representative for the United States. Something is wrong here.

I also want to take the time to deconstruct the recent break through with N.K. done by the Bush Administration. While I am glad Bolton is gone and were able to make progress, I also have to point out to the conservatives who are hailing Bush as a great savoir on this - we are worse off today than we were in in 1994 when Clinton signed a deal with Pyongyang. The only difference between now and then is that N.K. has more nuclear weapons while the Bush administration tried and failed at its hard line stance.

The history of the conflict is complex. Technically, we are still at war with North Korea even after hostilities ended in 1953. But to jump ahead in history - in 1994, Clinton signed a deal with Pyongyang to ends its nuclear weapons program. This called for N.K. to stop using its plutonium reactor and seal all of the used plutonium fuel that could be used in a nuclear bomb. In return, the U.S. would provide oil to N.K. and build a heavy water reactor for N.K. to replace the plutonium nuclear plant it was to close (heavy water reactors produce byproducts much more difficult to build bombs out of).

All went fairly well through 2001 when Bush ordered a re-evaluation of the N.K. deal and appointed John Bolton. In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration decided to change course and take a hard line with N.K. Shortly after, the 1994 deal fell apart. John Bolton declared that the U.S. should make "it clear to the North that we are indifferent to whether we ever have 'normal' diplomatic relations with it, and that achieving that goal is entirely in their interests, not ours." The U.S. ceased sending oil to N.K. and stopped the plans for building of the heavy water reactor. Pyongyang unsealed the stored plutonium, kicked IAEA (International Atomic Enforcement Agency) inspectors out of the country, restarted its Plutonium enrichment program, and dropped out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty.

In 2002, the Bush administration accused N.K. of also enriching Uranium in order to produce nuclear weapons. N.K. admitted to producing uranium tetrafluoride, which is used in one of their 5 megawatt electricity reactors. Uranium tetrafluoride is not weapons grade material. It can only be used for energy production. Uranium hexafluoride is the material used in nuclear weapons.

The Pyongyang wanted to re-enter disarmament talks, and so did Washington, but Bush predicated all talks on N.K. admitting that it was not only producing uranium tetrafluoride, but also uranium hexafluoride. It must be noted that hexafluoride can be made out of tetrafluoride, but to this day, there has been no evidence that hexafluoride has ever been produced. The vast majority of experts agree that N.K. does not have enough centrifuges and other equipment to produce hexafluoride, and Pyongyang has consistently denied producing any. We can monitor uranium production through the atmosphere, and while we have been able to confirm the production of the tetrafluoride, hexafluoride has never been detected. While N.K. may or may not have had plans for hexafluoride production in the future, it is unlikely that there was any current production.

So, basically, Bush's stance was that we would not deal with North Korea at unless they admitted to a hexafluoride program that we had no evidence of and they completely denied, even though N.K. would admit to all the other programs. It is like a Law & Order episode where the suspect is willing to admit to being a murderer, just not to the murder that the DA insists that he plead guilty to. We could have been making progress on resealing the plutonium that we knew N.K. was currently enriching to bomb grade material, but instead, we refused to deal with N.K. at all.

In the end, four years of a hard line stance, and the actions of John Bolton has put us in a worse position than we were in 2000. We have agreed to start shipping oil, again. We have agreed to build the heavy water reactor, again. The North Koreans will seal the plutonium, again. The only difference is that N.K. now has more nuclear weapons than it did prior to Bush taking office. How conservatives hail this as some enormous success is beyond me. It shows the ineptitude of the administration and of John Bolton to engage in effectual diplomacy. I have no doubt that N.K. is a dangerous rouge state. But four years of bungled policy towards N.K. should not be cheered, but jeered for taking so long to do what it should have done 4 years ago.


Foreign Affaris - Did North Korea Cheat? (Subscription needed)

Foreign Affaris - How to Deal With North Korea

Council on Foreign Relations - The North Korean Disarmament Talks

New powers of persuasion needed in North Korea talks

U.S. Department of State - U.S. DPRK Agreed Framework

Monday, September 26, 2005

Rush Limbaugh - Talk Out of His Butt Again

Usually, as I have pointed out in the past (here and here), Rush Limbaugh pretty much lies about everything. But this one is not even a lie. It is just plain stupid from any angle you look at it. Now, I understand that he has fill a full 3 hours of blither per day, but Rush, buddy, think just a little before you speek. From the September 21st Rush Limbaugh show:

LIMBAUGH: From the Associated Press, Mary Dalrymple doing the honors of writing this story. "House and Senate tax writers agreed yesterday to a package of tax breaks designed to help Hurricane Katrina victims recoup their losses and access needed cash. The Congressional Research Service, an office that provides lawmakers with nonpartisan legislative analysis, said some of those tax breaks could do more for higher income survivors than for the neediest."

Yes. People, they're going to get tax breaks for Katrina. It may help the rich more. The rich may benefit more from taxes and tax cuts that result from Hurricane Katrina. We should rethink this, ladies and gentlemen. Even though the rich were wiped out too, they still may benefit more. I will guarantee you this, ladies and gentlemen: Many of those getting tax cuts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will not have paid any taxes at all. The people who pay taxes today are primarily the upper middle class, the rich, whatever you're going to call them, and the filthy wealthy.

Now, if these poor people are not paying any taxes as it is (which is true, I won't argue about that), how can income tax cuts help them at all? For give me if I am wrong, but as far as I know, 0 - 0 = 0. These tax cuts, of course won't affect the taxes that the poor do pay, such as SSI and sales tax.

So, in the end Rush, yes, this Republican proposal helps the rich and middle class and not the poor. I am not saying that they should't get help. But this does nothing for the poor... Nothing.

Freedom to Worship

This is an article I found a while ago that embodies my "fear" of the Christian right. I do not fear Christians, or Christianity. I am a Christian, so that point is kind of moot. My fear, as many on the left have, is the Christian Evangelicals who see no other valid option in belief other than "their" beliefs. It does not matter how much I assure them that I do not want to change their beliefs, or restrict their religious practice, it never seems good enough until I believe the same way they do.

There is a growing divide in this country. Some call it the "culture gap." I tend to view it more as a "tolerance gap." The growing gap is to be found on both ends of the political spectrum. There are those on the left that believe any and all organized religion is bad. If you believe in a higher power, you are an idiot. Then, there are those on the right that believe that there is one, and only one way to believe in a higher power. That is their way and only their way.

This is highlighted in this article about religion and the Air Force. As you may have recently read, the Air Force has had to re-evaluate religion in the Service and what kind of role it plays. The Air Force had to take dramatic steps to quell the growing evangelical fervor found in its chaplains and officer ranks.

Chaplains play a vital role in the military. It would be inconceivable to ask a young man to go into combat, to kill, and to see your fellow soldier be killed without religious support and guidance. But at the same time, the nations military is made up of all religions and it is unfair and unwise to push any religion on a soldier. The most effective military is a unified military. If the same intolerance that creates division in civilian America is starting to happen in the military, it needs to be ended immediately. Otherwise, we will find two militaries, just the same as we are starting to see two Americas.

Military Wrestles With Disharmony Among Chaplains

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 30, 2005; Page A01

The growing influence of evangelical Protestants is roiling the military chaplain corps, where their desire to preach their faith more openly is colliding with long-held military traditions of pluralism and diversity.

After accusations this summer that evangelical chaplains, faculty and coaches were pressuring cadets at the Air Force Academy, the Air Force yesterday issued new guidelines on respect for religious minorities. In the Navy, evangelical Protestant chaplains are fighting what they say is a legacy of discrimination in hiring and promotions, and they are bridling at suggestions they not pray publicly "in the name of Jesus."

Much of the conflict is in two areas that, until now, have been nearly invisible to civilians: how the military hires its ministers and how they word their public prayers. Evangelical chaplains -- who are rising in numbers and clout amid a decline in Catholic priests and mainline Protestant ministers -- are challenging the status quo on both questions, causing even some evangelical commanders to worry about the impact on morale.

"There is a polarization that is beginning to set up that I don't think is helpful. Us versus them," said Air Force Col. Richard K. Hum, an Evangelical Free Church minister who is the executive director of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board. "I don't know whether it's an overflow of what's happening in society. But this sort of thing is so detrimental to what we are trying to do in the chaplaincy."

The Rev. MeLinda S. Morton, a Lutheran minister who resigned in June as an Air Force chaplain after criticizing the religious atmosphere at the Air Force Academy, said there has been a palpable rise in evangelical fervor not just among chaplains but also among the officer corps in general since she joined the military in 1982, originally as a launch officer in a nuclear missile silo.

"When we were coneheads -- missile officers -- I would never, ever have engaged in conversations with subordinates aligning my power and position as an officer with my views on faith matters," she said. Today, "I've heard of people being made incredibly uncomfortable by certain wing commanders who engage in sectarian devotions at staff meetings."
"Could there possibly be a worse time for this fundamentalist Christianity to be pushed in our military, when we're in a war and the people we are fighting are recruiting their members by saying we're Christian crusaders?" asked Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 Air Force Academy graduate and former Reagan White House official.

His complaints over the past 18 months about religious intolerance led to a Pentagon investigation in June that found "a lack of awareness over where the line is drawn between permissible and impermissible expression of beliefs."

Among other incidents, the academy commandant had urged cadets to use the "J for Jesus" hand signal with the thumb and index finger, the head football coach had told players that he expected to see them in church, and Jewish cadets had experienced anti-Semitic slurs after students were urged to see the Mel Gibson film "The Passion of the Christ."

(Full Story)

And for those of you who think, "oh, well, they are just trying to be good Christians." After they are done with the Jews and Muslims, they will find something wrong with your version of Christianity also.

Friday, September 23, 2005

She Can't Get Enough

Cyli, from Why Not Laugh, was down in New Orleans as a FEMA member right after Katrina. She had some great stories about her time there, rescuing people by boat.

apparently, she didn't get enough attention the last time for her efforts, so she is back in the fray for Rita. Currently, she is in Port Arthur, helping to evacuate people from the city and cooking up schemes to get free pizza from Domino's.

If you get a chance, stop by her blog and leave her a note to say your thoughts are with her and thank her for her work.

House Ok's Religious Discrimination

The House of Representatives today Ok'ed government endorsed discrimination based on religion. The issue at hand is Head Start. The House and Senate need to reauthorize the legislation that funds the program intended to break the cycle of poverty through better education. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of waste and mismanagement of the funds by the public and private organizations that receive Head Start money to run their kindergartens.

The House and Senate's initial intentions were to make the fund recipients more accountable for the monies received. A last minute amendment to the bill now allows faith based organizations who receive government money to discriminate in their hiring based on religion. Prior to the bills passage, no institution, public or private could discriminate.

This is not like government legalization of religious discrimination... This is government legalization of religious discrimination.

I have no objections to funds going to private faith based institutions for this program. But once you allow groups to hire based only on ones religion, you have crossed the line to state sponsored discrimination. If U.S. taxpayers money, collected from Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others, is paying for the Head Start program, then any qualified American who pays taxes should be able to apply for open positions.

If you think that Congressmen earmarking money stops at highway bills, think again. If you think that congressmen won't start funneling money to their "favorite" religions, wake up and smell the coffee. I have said it 20 times before and I will say it 20 times again. The more that government gets entangled in religion, the more it will end up restricting our religious freedoms. Hopefully the Senate, which has not yet considered the bill, will have more common sense than the House.

House OKs Faith as Head Start Hiring Issue
By BEN FELLER, AP Education Writer

WASHINGTON - Churches and other religious groups are allowed to receive federal money to provide preschool to poor children. Now, the House says, they should be allowed to hire based on religion.

In a broad update of the Head Start program, the House voted Thursday to let preschool providers consider a person's faith when hiring workers — and still be eligible for federal grants. The Republican-led House said the move protects the rights of religious groups, but Democrats blasted it as discriminatory.

The debate over religion overshadowed the main parts of the bill, which had drawn bipartisan support.

Overall, the House bill would insert more competition into Head Start grants, require greater disclosure of how money is spent, and try to improve collaboration among educators in different grades.

Only 23 Democrats supported the House bill, which was approved 231-184. The vote on the amendment allowing the religion-based hiring was even tighter. It passed 220-196, with support from 10 Democrats.

Rep. John Boehner (news, bio, voting record) of Ohio, the Republican chairman of the House Education Committee, said the bill ensures that faith-based centers "aren't forced to choose between relinquishing their identities or being shut out of the program altogether."

Launched in the 1960s, the nearly $7 billion Head Start program provides comprehensive education to more than 900,000 poor children. Though credited for getting kids ready for school, Head Start has drawn scrutiny as cases of financial waste and questions about academic quality have surfaced nationwide.

Yet most of the debate Thursday was not about oversight. It was about religion and civil rights.

The Republican plan would, for example, allow a Catholic church that provides Head Start services to employ only Catholic child-care workers, and to reject equally qualified workers of other religions.

(Full Story)

Quote of the Day

This quote was left on Gun Toting Liberal's page by Mark which I thought was very good.

I've always believed that the more certain you are of your political opinions, the more chance there is that you are mistaken. When I believe I'm 100% correct, that's a warning sign to take a long look at the other side of the argument...

Mark is a conservative, but even a conservative can be right from time to time. It is very rare that we are 100% or that we have nothing to learn from others with different views.

Frist in Potential Hot Water

Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, could find himself in hot water for selling all of his stock in his families hospital corporation two weeks before the price plummeted. While, I will give him the benefit of the doubt at this time, the appearance of impropriety is definitely exists. Frist called his broker and asked him to sell all of his holdings that were held in a blind trust. Of course, if Frist can continue to direct the selling of stock in a blind trust, you have to ask how blind is a blind trust.

Frist has not been accused of any wrong doing at this time by any government officials, and there are probably many ligitimate reasons for his actions, but for a man who is potentially seeking the presidency, this is not a good first step in the wake of so many other stock scandals.

Frist Sold Stock Along With HCA Insiders
By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - When Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist asked a trustee to sell all his stock in his family's hospital corporation, a large-scale sell-off by HCA Inc. insiders was under way.

Shares of the Nashville, Tenn.-based hospital company were near a 52-week peak in June when Frist and HCA insiders were selling off their shares — just about a month before the price dropped.

Information about the insiders' moves was publicly available through disclosures required by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

About 2.3 million shares, worth about $112 million, were sold by HCA insiders from January through June, with sales getting larger as the spring wore on, said Mark LoPresti of Thomson Financial. In May and June, 770,629 shares were sold for total gains of $42 million, he said.

The sales, which included moves by Hospital Corporation of America's chief executive, treasurer, senior vice president for government programs and several directors, were among the largest insider selloffs analysts had seen, LoPresti said. Many officers made their largest trades ever in April, only to top them again in May and June, LoPresti said.

Meanwhile, HCA shares continued a steep climb that would ultimately take the price up 56 percent from October 2004 to July 2005, peaking in late June, LoPresti said.

(Full story)

Update: I take that back. Federal prosecutors have now "subpoenaed hospital operator HCA Inc. in connection with sales of stock held by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the company said on Friday."

HCA subpoenaed over Senate leader's stock

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

In Court Today

No blogging on Thursday. I will be in court all day.

Senior Bush Offical Arrested

David Safavian, a senior White House budget official, was arrested two days ago for obstructing justice in the recent indictment of Washington's top Republican lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.

According to court papers, Mr. Safavian, 38, is accused of lying about assistance that he gave Mr. Abramoff in his earlier work at the General Services Administration, where he was chief of staff from 2002 to 2004, and about an expensive golf trip he took with the lobbyist to Scotland in August 2002...

The Justice Department said Mr. Safavian had been specifically charged with making false statements to investigators about his efforts at the General Services Administration in 2002 to help Mr. Abramoff acquire two large pieces of government-owned property in the Washington area, including the historic Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Safavian was one of the many Washington types that received a trip to Scotland's famed St. Andrew golf course.

The department said Mr. Safavian had also lied to ethics officials at the agency, which manages federal property, when he sought approval to accept free transportation from Mr. Abramoff for the golf trip to Scotland that summer. According to court documents, Mr. Safavian told the ethics office that Mr. Abramoff had no business with the agency at the time, an assertion that was repeated in a separate interview this May with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This is just part of the fall out from the recent indictment of Jack Abramoff. Several Congressmen of both parties went on that golf trip, and e-mails sent from Safavian to others showed that he knew that the trip was to be paid for by lobby money. It is hard for other to say they didn't know if Safavian did.

Mr. DeLay, who has asked the House ethics committee to review his ties to Mr. Abramoff, has come under criticism from Congressional Democrats and ethics watchdog groups for taking a similar golf trip to Scotland with Mr. Abramoff in 2000, including rounds of golf on the fabled course at St. Andrews.

(Full Story)

When Creationist Attack - Now on VHS and DVD

I have heard reports of this for some time now. This is the first time I have seen it reported that Museums are now having to train tour guides to deal with creationists on the offensive.

ITHACA, N.Y. - Lenore Durkee, a retired biology professor, was volunteering as a docent at the Museum of the Earth here when she was confronted by a group of seven or eight people, creationists eager to challenge the museum exhibitions on evolution.

They peppered Dr. Durkee with questions about everything from techniques for dating fossils to the second law of thermodynamics, their queries coming so thick and fast that she found it hard to reply.

After about 45 minutes, "I told them I needed to take a break," she recalled. "My mouth was dry." ...

That encounter and others like it provided the impetus for a training session here in August... Similar efforts are under way or planned around the country as science museums and other institutions struggle to contend with challenges to the theory of evolution that they say are growing common and sometimes aggressive.

An ex-girlfriend of mine used to be a volunteer tour guide at the Museum of Natural history. Every once in a while, she would get harassed by creationists who were not there to listen and ask probative questions, but to try to preach to the others on the tour.

"The goal is to understand the controversies, so that people are better able to handle them as they come up," she said. "Museums, as a field, have recognized we need to take a more proactive role in evolution education."...

Instead, he told the volunteers that when they encounter religious fundamentalists they should emphasize that science museums live by the rules of science. They seek answers in nature to questions about nature, they look for explanations that can be tested by experiment and observation in the material world, and they understand that all scientific knowledge is provisional - capable of being overturned when better answers are discovered.

I have no problem with creationists. It is their prerogative to believe whatever they wish. Nor do I have any problem with creationists who visit museums and ask probative and respectful challenging questions. But, I do have a problem with creationist who visit museums only to pick a fight. That is no better than if a biologist was to walk into a church and start pestering a pastor during a sermon.

There is more than one type of creationist, he said: "thinking creationists who want to know answers, and they are willing to listen, even if they go away unconvinced" and "people who for whatever reason are here to bother you, to trap you, to bludgeon you."

Those were the type of people who confronted Dr. Durkee, a former biology professor at Grinnell College in Iowa. The encounter left her discouraged.

"It is no wonder that many biologists will simply refuse to debate creationists or I.D.ers," she said, using the abbreviation for intelligent design, a cousin of creationism. "It is as if they aren't listening."

I think it is best summer up with

"I like the idea of stressing that this is a science museum, and we deal with matters of science."

(Full Story)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Who Loves Ya Gulf Coast... Alaska Loves Ya

Well, maybe the good citizens of Alaska who undoubtedly donated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but Republican Congressman, Don Young, doesn't seem to.

When Rep. Young was asked if cutting some pork Alaska was to receive from the bloated highway bill might be a good thing to help pay for Katrina's aftermath, he replied:

"They can kiss my ear!...That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard"

I learned two valuable things from that statement.

One, Alaskans drop "R"s from words just like Bostonians do. (conservatives, I know it may take you a while to get that joke, but just keep with it)

Two, Don Young is a class A Jack Ass.

The funds in question are for the infamous "two bridges to nowhere." While this may sound like an artsy fartsy film shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, I assure you it is quite real.

The first bridge would be built between the cities of Ketchikan and Gravina. The mammoth bridge, a mile long and just 20 feet shorter than the Golden Gate Bridge, would connect a population of two bustling cities. It connects Gravina, with a whole 50 people, to Ketchikan which is busting at the seems with 8000 people. This, for the mere total of $178 million dollars. And did I mention that taking the bridge would take longer than taking the ferry that already exists?

The second bridge, costing $223 million dollars, would span two miles to connect Anchorage with wetlands populated by a total of 23 people. But, Don Young probably feels it is worth the expense since the bridge would be named after him.

Does Rep. Don Young respond to the criticism of the bridges put forth by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal: "That same half a billion dollars (for the two Alaska bridges) could rebuild thousands of homes for suffering New Orleans evacuees."

The New York Times: "Surely Rep. Don Young, the Alaska Republican who is chairman of the transportation committee, might put off that $223 million 'bridge to nowhere' in his state's outback. It's redundant now -- Louisiana suddenly has several bridges to nowhere."

That is easy for Young. He just points out that Louisiana made out ok in the Highway bill also.

Young went on, noting that Louisiana did quite well in his highway bill.

And, the congressman said, he helped the seafood industry donate more than $500,000 for hurricane victims. (That was at the "Seafood Invitational," a charity golf tournament Sept. 9 in Roslyn, Wash., Bishop reported Friday.)

"I raised enough money to give back to them voluntarily," he said, "and that's it!"

It is good to know that he gave $500,000 to the hurricane victims... no, wait. He didn't give the money... he just played golf.

Young scoffs at criticism of bridges

The GOP Hydra

Well, the joint House-Senate sham investigation of Katrina failures is dead. But two more sham investigations have popped up to take its place. Instead of the single investigation, Republicans will hold separate House and Senate whitewashes.

Democrats who objected to the original congressional hearings are continuing to object, as they should. Democrats objected to the original plan because it was dominated by Republicans and would give no subpoena power to Democrats. That means the Republicans could call to testify anyone they wanted and gather any information they wanted, but Democrats could call no one nor request any information.

Democrats are requesting an independant investigation. Why Republicans are fighting this, I have no idea other than to be able to retain power over what the findings are and what the public hears.

House GOP Scraps Plan for Joint Probe on Hurricane Response

By Mary Curtius, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Congressional Republicans signaled today that they have abandoned their plan to conduct a joint House-Senate probe of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

In announcing a joint probe this month, the Republican leadership had said it would be the most efficient way to investigate the administration's much-criticized initial response to the hurricane. But today, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) conceded that he could not overcome Democratic opposition to a joint investigation.

The Democratic leadership has refused to appoint members to a joint committee, citing the lack of equal representation of Democrats on the panel, and the lack of power to issue subpoenas that the majority opposed. Democrats also have insisted on an independent inquiry.

Democratic opposition has left Republicans little maneuvering room for mounting a credible probe. With the joint investigation apparently off the table, Republicans can only hope that Democrats will participate in each chamber's separate investigation. It was far from clear today that Democrats would do that.

(Full Story)

Doctor Zhivago the "Little Commie"

See, this is what I dislike about conservative anti-intellectualism. Either they just spout off about things they have never taken the time to ever read or see, or they were just too plain dumb to understand it in the first place.

Conservative Fox News, host Chris Wallace called Doctor Zhivago, one of two films named by chief justice nominee John Roberts as his favorites, as "a little commie." William Kristol, of the National Review, calling the film "a sappy, liberal movie."

As I said, either these men have never actually seen the movie, or read the book, or they were just too plain dumb to understand it. William Kristol, while often obnoxious, is not dumb, so I am assuming he has never actually taken the "intellectual time" to read it. Chris Wallace, I think, is just plain dumb.

If either of these men had understood the book or movie, they would know that it is actually and anti-communist book, not pro-communist. The main character, while sympathizing with the peasants of Russia, is up against a regime that crushes free will and purges intellectuals. Zhivago is a man who shows compassion for his fellow man while fighting the tide of a pedantic regime that wants him to conform to their will. Retaining his intellectual independence and freedom of thought is one of the main themes of this story. Boris Pasternak, the author of the book, even had to smuggle it out of the Soviet Union for it to be finally published because the Soviets found it so subversive to their regime.

Perhaps Wallace and Kristol dislike the book because it emphasizes the arts, intellectual curiosity, and freedom of the human spirit, three things that conservatives appear to be more and more adverse to these days.

I guess there is little irony in the fact that a book that speaks to the benefits of intellectualism would be bashed by two conservative anti-intellectuals. Either that, or they just can't stand when anyone would sympathize with those less fortunate.

For anyone who is not an anti-intellectual and have not read the book or seen the movie, I highly recommend it.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Not one of New York's Finest...

... Finest moments.

Let me start off by saying I have the utmost respect for NYC cops. This is just a humorous occurrence that I thought would be good to post.

So, I was sitting in un-disclosed corner Pizza Parlor on the Upper East Side of New York, grabbing a slice with L. We were sitting at a table in the back of the un-disclosed Pizza joint. To L's back, there was a uniformed female New York police officer cleaning up her ticket book, or doing some other type of paper work in the little black book they all carry.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see something scuttle along the floor. I look and it is a tiny little field mouse. Not a rat mind you, but the ones with the big ears and small bodies.

"hey, look, we have a visitor." I say. L turns to look, but by that time it had scurried back underneath the crevice in the door leading to the basement. I don't think L believed me, because the crack under the door was quite small. We continued to eat our slices.

Then, our little friend returned and sat in the middle of the floor, looking straight at us, saying with its big eyes, "look at me, I am a cute little mouse... feed me... pwweeeease." You know, the cute little look a puppy gives you as you sit at the kitchen table, eating your lunch.

L looks at the mouse and says, "awww, how cute."

Apparently the cop overheard our conversation because she turned and looked, also. As soon as she saw the mouse, she jumped up, knocking over her chair. Her hand went directly to her holster.

There they were, cop and mouse, staring each other down, eye to eye. Her hand, ready to draw her side iron if the mouse so much as flinched.

I ask her if she is going to shoot it? She looks at the mouse, then her gun, then to the mouse again.

"Good point," she says and then moves her hand away from her gun and further along her belt. Without letting her eyes leave those of the mouse, she pops the button on her pepper spray and pulls is from its pouch. She holds it in line with the mouse. Very slowly, she blindly reaches with her other hand for her book on the table. The mouse still looks at her saying, "What? Aren't I cute? Feed me pwetty pwease."

The cop slowly backs her way to the door, never letting the mouse out of her sight. She reaches out behind her to feel for the door, pepper spray, still leveled and ready. The door, now opened, she turns and sprints out the door.

No warning to the establishment's owners... No nothing...

The mouse, seeing that the excitement is over, heads back under to door.

L and I go back to eating our slices, both of us knowing that this woman would take down a criminal without blinking, but was scared to death of a little field mouse.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Picture is Worth a Day of Blogging

It is a busy day at work, so it will be light blogging for me today. So, I thought I would post some pictures for you all today.

President Bush addresses the nation from Jackson Square last night. You have to wonder if this man can really lead the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast if he can't even button right. Now, Bush does have a rep for ripping a new one for any staff member who criticizes him, but for god's sake, at least let him know he is off by one. Makes you also wonder if his shoes are slip on or velcro.

It's difficult work being the president Posted by Picasa

As they say, truth is better than fiction.

Truth in advertising Posted by Picasa

This is a snap shot of the note that the prez wrote to Conndie at the UN the other day. I wonder if he raised his hand and asked for a hall pass.

Can I get a hall pass please? Posted by Picasa

Since the UN General Assembly is in session, it is also protest week here in New York. Last night, people were protesting in front of the Iranian consulate. They were holding a big banner reading "the Islamic Republic is the Godfather of Terrorism." I took a picture, but it is took dark to see, unfortunately.

The Ukrainian consulate were having a party last night also. I have no idea why they had a party inside, because they were all standing around outside on the street so they could smoke. I am not talking about 5 or 6 out side. I counted at one point 22 people.

I applaud all the people who care enough about a matter to come and protest. I have not seen any outrageous protests or causes. But, honestly, they are starting to all run together. After a while, I can't keep all the causes straight in my mind and they all blur together. I am pretty sure that there was a protest about "Freeing Tibetan Terrorist" and one saying "Stop Fulon Gong from spreading AIDs in Africa."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Man Behind the Man

Some may believe that Karl Rove is the man behind the president... the man behind the man. Some would be wrong. In truth, Harlan McCraney is actually the man behind the president.

This is a must see interview with the genius behind the man called "Dubya."

Interview with Harlan McCraney

H/T Linnet

You Know the UN General Assembly is in Session When...

... you have a "Free Tibet," a "Stop persecution of Fulon Gong," and a "Stop AIDs in Africa" parade go by below your office window all in one day.

O'Reilly Misleading Again

FOX news and Bill O'Reilly are trying to spin Bush's record again to make Bush look good. On the September 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Bill tried to manipulate the truth into good news for Bush.

O'REILLY: The aftermath of [Hurricane] Katrina has produced a debate over poor Americans. There are about 37 million people living below the poverty line right now... Halfway through President Clinton's tenure in office in 1996, the poverty rate was 13.7 percent. Halfway through President Bush's tenure, the rate is 12.7 percent, a full point lower.

Looks good for the president, doesn't it? It is a full percentage point better than Clinton.

But wait... Lets really look at the numbers from the US census bureau.

When Clinton took office from George Bush Sr. the poverty rate was 15.1%. Under Clinton, the poverty rate fell ever single year of his presidency. He handed it over to Bush Jr. at 11.3% in 2000. Under Bush, it has climbed every year to now be at 12.7% in 2004. So, yes. In 1996, the poverty rate was 13.7%, which is higher that it is now. But, now it is 1.4% higher than when Bush took office.

Clinton - drop of 3.8% in poverty.

Bush - raise of 1.4% in poverty.

Still want to give those accolades Mr. O'Reilly?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Katrina Hearings in a Nut Shell

I wanted to give you all a preview of the Republican run Katrina hearings. Below is the future question and answer session between Michael Brown, former head of FEMA, and an un-named Republican Chairman.

SENATOR: Mr. Brown, did...

BROWN: Brownie...

SENATOR: Excuse me?

BROWN: Brownie... please call me Brownie.

SENATOR: Uh, sure... Mr. Brown, er, Brownie. Did you know that a hurricane could have hit the US?

BROWN: Yes, yes, I was aware of some reports that hurricanes have in fact existed in the past?

SENATOR: Did you read any newspapers on August 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th or 27th?

BROWN: Yes, yes I did.

SENATOR: And did you read the headlines of any of those newspapers?

BROWN: Uh, yes, I believe I did.

SENATOR: And what were those headlines, Mr. Brown?

BROWN: Uh, I believe the headline were, "Hurricane Katrina Determined to hit the Gulf Coast." Now, the...

SENATOR: Thank you.

BROWN: No, Senator...

SENATOR: I will get into the...

BROWN: I would like to finish my point here.

SENATOR: I didn't know there was a point.

BROWN: Given that -- you asked me whether or not it warned of a hurricane.

SENATOR: I asked you what the title was.

BROWN: You said, did it not warn of huricanes. It did not warn of hurricanes inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. Those newspapers you speak of were days old. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming hurricanes inside the United States on the 29th.

SENATOR: Well, there he have it then. Clinton is at fault!....Hearing adjourned! And please join us in the rotunda for free refreshments and tax breaks.

GOP Plans Katrina Absolution Comittee

In keeping things consistent with their usual patterns, the Republican controlled Congress has decided they are the best ones to judge the failings of the Republican controlled White House.

Instead of creating an independent non-partisan committee to investigate the failings of the local, state, and federal governments in the recent Katrina catastrophe, Tom DeLay and his cohorts, feel that it is better to hold Republican controlled hearings on the matter. That means, the Republicans will decide who will be questioned, what will be reviewed, and will write the final report on the matter. Today, Tom DeLay scoffed at the idea that an independant comittee would be more objective at getting to the bottom of the matter.

This committee will be formed despite 83% of the American people don't trust them to do an adequate job and would prefer to see and independent non-partisan committee investigate.

Once more, the foxes are going to be guarding the hen house. We don't have any of the facts yet, and I can already tell you what the report will say: 1) Repubican President and FEMA director = good; 2) Democrats = baby eaters; 3) It was Clinton's fault (both of them) 4) We should cut taxes on the rich; 5) If we don't ban homosexual marriage, this will happen again... in Iowa.

DeLay ignores Democrats' panel demands

Panel vote will test loyalty

Update: Republican Senators just killed a proposal for an independant panel to investigate home land security preparedness proposed by Hillary Clinton.

Senate Kills Bid for Katrina Commission

God's Politics

I was reading some quotes from Media Matters this morning. According to the religious right, Katrina was a result of God commenting on our politics. Yes, that is right. According to those who speak directly to God; Pat Robertson, Hal Lindsey, Charles Colson, etc. God was entering the political fray to make a comment about abortion and homeland security.

First up, Hal Lindsey weighs in with proof that God is judging America:

LINDSEY: It seems clear that the prophetic times I have been expecting for decades have finally arrived. And even worse, it appears that the judgment of America has begun. I warn continually that the last days lineup of world powers does not include anything resembling the United States of America. Instead, a revived Roman Empire in Europe is to rule the West, and then the world.

So, what was hurricane Andrew? Betsy? Camille? What about the hurricane that devastated Galveston Texas so long ago that they didn't even name hurricanes then. It seems to me that religious leaders have been saying, "this is the end of days" for, oh, about 1800 years now. And please, a revived Roman Empire. Italians haven't formed a stable stable government in 1500 years. The Roman Empire lasted about 534 years. That is about 530 years longer than any other Italian government has lasted.

Next we have the all knowing, all seeing Charles Colson:

God allowed Katrina to happen to bring attention to lack of preparation for terrorist attack...

Katrina gave us a preview of what America would look like if we fail to fight the war on terror. "Did God have anything to do with Katrina?," people ask. My answer is, he allowed it and perhaps he allowed it to get our attention so that we don't delude ourselves into thinking that all we have to do is put things back the way they were and life will be normal again.

So, Katrina was about the war on terror? It is about us not being prepared? While I agree that we were not prepared, wasn't it God's will the Bush be elected so he could keep us safe? Are you saying God voted for the wrong man? Maybe god was listening to too much of the Rush Limbaugh show.

Nutcase extraordinaire Pat Robertson also has his two cents to add:

We have killed over 40 million unborn babies in America. I was reading, yesterday, a book that was very interesting about what God has to say in the Old Testament about those who shed innocent blood. And he used the term that those who do this, "the land will vomit you out." That -- you look at your -- you look at the book of Leviticus and see what it says there. And this author of this said, "well 'vomit out' means you are not able to defend yourself." But have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected in some way?

So, now Pat is not only claiming that the 9/11 attack was caused by homosexuals and feminists, but so was Katrina. It makes me wonder what else bad has been caused by homosexuals and feminists? My subway train was running really slow today. Must be those damn fags again. Perhaps if I go spit on a drag queen today, I'll get into work on time tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Two More DeLay Buddies Indicted

Today brought two more indictments of Tom DeLays PAC officials.

Grand Jury Indicts Two DeLay Associates

AUSTIN - Two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were indicted Tuesday on additional felony charges of violating Texas election law and criminal conspiracy to violate election law for their role in the 2002 legislative races.

The indictment was just the latest from a grand jury investigating the use of corporate money in the campaigns that gave Republicans control of the Texas House.

Jim Ellis, who heads Americans for a Republican Majority, and John Colyandro, former executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority, already faced charges of money laundering in the case. Colyandro also faces 13 counts of unlawful acceptance of a corporate political contribution.

(Full Story)


That is what I am right now... Dumbfounded. The saints will win the super bowl, Michael Bolton will put out some good music, and Keanu Reeves will learn to act.


Because hell has frozen over!

Bush has actually taken some personal responsibility for once in his life.

Bush Takes Responsibility for Blunders

Did he do this because of polls or because or because he really has finally admitted that he is fallible? I don't know, and I really don't care. I will withhold final judgment until his speech on Thursday to see if he truly accepts responsibility or is just trying for a sound bite. But if he is sincere, I will give him kudos for it.

It takes a big man to admit when he is wrong. To this point, he has not been a big man. But, I will not scream, "see, told you so" and use his admission against him if he is big enough to actually acknowledge the bungles.

Pop Quiz

Pop quiz, hot shot - Which of these three men are not like the other ones?

Jack Ass # 1: Adam Yahiye Gadahn
 Posted by Picasa

Jack Ass #2: Fred Phelps Posted by Picasa

Jack Ass #3: Matt Hale Posted by Picasa

Of course, that was a trick question. They are all the same.

The first, Adam Yahiye Gadahn, is an American born convert to Islam who claims to be a member of Al Queda and wishes to kill Americans. Gadahn hates Americans. I mean really hates Americans. Gadahn feels that Allah wants all the infidels dead and is willing to do just that - kill you. He justifies the attacks of 9/11 as Gods will.

The second, Fred Phelps, is an American born (pretend) Christian minister who wishes to kill Americans. He hates fags. I mean really hates fags. He thinks they should all be killed, and even petitioned to erect a monument to the men who beat to death Matthew Shepard while tied to a fence post because Matthew was gay. He applauded Eric Rudolph for setting a bomb in a gay night club. Phelps justifies the death of homosexuals as Gods will.

The third, Matt Hale, is the American born leader of the Church of the Creator. Hale hates niggers & Jews. I mean really hates niggers & Jews. He thinks they all should be killed or shipped back to Africa. He is currently serving 40 years for ordering a hit on a judge, and several of his followers have gone on shooting sprees, killing innocent Americans. Hale justified the death of James Byrd, who was dragged behind a pickup truck by his neck, as Gods will.

All of these men are terrorists. All of these men whant to kill American citizens. All of these men want to impose their beliefs on you and if you don't agree with them, they would just as soon kill you.

So, what is the point of this post? Why does anyone defend these people?

Ok, to the leftists - That means the apologists of people like Adam Yahiye Gadahn. those of you who defend his hate speech merely because he is not Christian - The enemy of your enemy is not your friend. You may dislike Christians, and he may dislike Christians, but that does not mean he does not dislike you. He would kill you as quickly as he would kill anyone else in the country. He is no different than a Christian extremists. He just calls God by a different name. He is not your friend. He is not your buddy. Stop defending him and those like him.

Ok, to the wingnuts - that means the apologist of people like Fred Phelps, Matt Hale, Eric Rudolph, etc. Those of you who defend their hate speech merely because they call themselves Christian or because you are not terrible keen on the idea of gay marriage or your daughter marrying a minority - The enemy of your enemy is not your friend. They don't care if you are walking by a gay night club and are killed in the blast when they bomb it. They don't care if your children are caught in the cross fire of one of their members on a shooting spree. They are just as evil as Gadahn.

All of these men are a threat to our lives, a threat to democracy and a threat to America. Leftists, there is no defense to your defense. Wingnuts, there is no defense to your defense. We are all in this boat together, so we must view all of these terrorists the same because it does not matter if they are targeting Christians, homosexuals or minorities, they are all targeting Americans, and all Americans deserve to live without this fear regardless of if you agree with their lifestyle, religious beliefs or their skin color.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Mike Brown is Out

Mike Brown has resigned his post with FEMA today.

Embattled FEMA Director Mike Brown Resigns
By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer

WASHINGTON - Federal Emergency Management Agency director Mike Brown said Monday he has resigned "in the best interest of the agency and best interest of the president," three days after losing his onsite command of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Brown, under fire for FEMA's performance in the Gulf Coast, said he feared he had become a distraction.

"The focus has got to be on FEMA, what the people are trying to do down there," Brown told The Associated Press.

(Full Story)

I guess Brownie should have realized what a distraction incompetence is years ago.

Paul Krugman how much of the other top Bush officals are in their job due to cronyism.

Update: For all of you still claiming that Bush said he didn't expect the levees to break because everyone was saying that New Orleans dodged a bullet, please go look at this collage of newspaper covers from that day. See if any of them said anything about how lucky the South East was.

A Man With His Head On

For me, this is one of my few non-partisan posts because I am sure this guy is referring to Republicans and Democrats alike. But, it is a must read story about someone who put down the phone on political fundraising and picked up the phone to the Red Cross.

Katrina Leads a Lobbyist to Reevaluate His Priorities

By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 12, 2005; Page A04

Frederick L. Webber, a longtime denizen of Washington's lobbying corridor, showed up at work one day last week and found on his desk a dozen fundraising requests from members of Congress.

He threw them all in the trash.
In a self-described epiphany, Webber, president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, drafted a large check to help families displaced by Hurricane Katrina and decided that an imperative of his vocation -- political giving -- had finally gone too far.

How could lawmakers be asking for money for their reelections, he asked himself, when thousands of Americans were desperate for aid along the Gulf Coast?

"It really hit home when I was writing out that check," Webber said. "Political fundraising in this town has gotten out of control."

It's a message he was repeating passionately at lunches and in private conversations with other lobbyists all over town last week.

Webber's opinion is worth noting; he isn't just any lobbyist. At age 67, Webber has been a major player in Washington for more than 30 years. He worked both in the Nixon White House and on Capitol Hill and has headed up or helped direct lobbying groups representing car companies, chemical manufacturers, electric utilities, savings institutions and soft drink makers.

"In the Washington business community, Fred is close to the top of the list," said Michael E. Baroody, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers.

"He's a pillar of the association community," agreed Donald A. Danner, executive vice president of the National Federation of Independent Business. "He's one of the guys you look up to and respect."

Webber told K Street colleagues that radical change is needed in election laws: Donations should be further limited, campaign seasons should be shortened and lawmakers, somehow, should be freed up to do more legislating and less soliciting.

He also made clear that the hurricane's devastation was what prompted his proselytizing. "All of a sudden I asked, 'What are the priorities here?' " Webber said in an interview. "It was an easy decision to make. I couldn't justify making those $500 to $2,500 [campaign] contributions. It just didn't fit."

Lawmakers' constant bombarding of lobbyists with fundraising invitations, he said, "is crazy." Yet the daily rush of fundraisers hardly slowed last week, even with the tragedy of New Orleans.

(Full Story)

9/11 Remembered

Siggy has a good write up on remembering 9/11 here and here. As usual, I agree with most, but not all of it. That is one of the great things about America. Usually, even with the bitterest of disagreements, it is a peaceful disagreement.

For me, I spent 9/11 doing one of the most American of activities - Baseball. Yankees vs. Red Sox. It was nice because there is no politics involved. We sat next to my friends father who is an Israeli immigrant. No discussions of the Gaza pullout, just about when the pitcher should be pulled. No one in the crowd cared who held the Ohio 2nd congressional seat, just about who was on 2nd base.

That night, from my balcony, I could see the two beams of light that reached into the sky from the footprints of the twin towers. It was somber to say the least. But, I also realized that they reached into the sky about as far as our potential reaches... In other words, beyond our own vision.

It is Good to Know Some Things Never Change

One of the first contracts handed out for Katrina reconstruction? Halliburton. No Surprise there. Even with $1 billion in questionable charges and and over $400 million in, well, pretty much straight out fraud, Halliburton has landed some more lucrative government contracts.

How? Well, it turns out that Bush's former campaign manager is now a lobbyists. Go figure.

Firms with Bush ties snag Katrina deals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.

One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton.

Bechtel National Inc., a unit of San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp., has also been selected by FEMA to provide short-term housing for people displaced by the hurricane. Bush named Bechtel's CEO to his Export Council and put the former CEO of Bechtel Energy in charge of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

(Full Story)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Not in My Neighborhood!

While many of the good citizens of Ocala county are doing their best to find housing for victims of the Hurricane, one homeowners association doesn't like the idea of haveing outsiders inside the gates. Majestic Oaks Homeowners Association has told its residents that they cannot take in victims. The area, where homes are priced starting at $400,000 appearanlty doesn't want the rif-raf in their all white neck of the woods.

Stay Out: Florida Subdivision Bans Hurricane Evacuees

OCALA, Fla. -- Subdivision rules are keeping some Ocala residents from temporarily housing Hurricane Katrina evacuees, and angry homeowners said it might make them move.

The board of Majestic Oaks Homeowners Association told homeowners their deed restrictions prohibit housing people who fled the Gulf Coast. According to the Ocala Star-Banner, a flier, distributed by the Majestic Oaks homeowners association Saturday, said that rather than allowing "additional families" in the community, residents were encouraged to contribute to hurricane relief funds.

The board sent the notice after learning that a minister in the 500-home subdivision had traveled to New Orleans and planned to take in three families of evacuees.

Resident Georgia Ann Bolla said she's ashamed to live in Majestic Oaks and she's ready to move. She told the paper that she went "ballistic" when she got the notice.

(Full Story)

Quote of the Day

this is so disgusting that I am actually speechless about this.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal (subscription needed)

Republican Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge is overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

On a lighter note, I present the second best quote of the day from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Jon Stewart: The president has vowed to personally lead the investigation into the government's failed response to Katrina? Isn't that a job perhaps someone else should be doing?

Samantha Bee: No, not at all, Jon. To truly find out what went wrong, it's important for an investigator to have a little distance from the situation. And it's hard to get any more distant from it than the president was last week.

--The Daily Show

Micheal Brown Relieved of Duty

Miceal Brown has been removed from duty overseeing Katrina relief.

FEMA Chief Relieved of Katrina Duties

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown is being removed from his role in managing the Bush administration's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and is returning to Washington.


Asked if he was being made a scapegoat for a federal relief effort that has drawn widespread and sharp criticism, Brown told The Associated Press after a long pause: "By the press, yes. By the president, No."

(Full Story)

This comes with news that Brown may have also padded his resume. Brown, one of the many tops people in FEMA that owe their jobs to their political connections to Bush, has been called on several of his claimed experience. One is "an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." While his former boss did say that Brown was a very hard worker, he was really an intern with no managerial responsibilities . A claim that he was "the Executive Director of the Independent Electrical Contractors," when he was just a regional Director. He lists "Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University" as one of his awards when he was never a professor, only a student.

The White House disputes some of the charges of padding his resume and the info is still a bit murky. I am sure it will sorted out shortly.

Should We Show the Pictures of the Dead

Both Maxed out Mama and the Anchoress have posts dealing with the controversy surrounding whether or not the press should be able to photograph the bodies of the dead in Louisiana and Mississippi. Both think it is simply wrong. Currently, Bush and/or others in the administration have decided to stop the press from photographing the scenes.

At first, I agreed and thought that taking pictures of the dead was just plain wrong and disrespectful to those who died and those who survived them. But the more I think about it, the more I think the press should be able to take pictures.

After all, words can never accomplish what pictures can. Was it wrong for the press to take photos of the battle fields strewn with dead Americans during the civil war? Was it wrong to take pictures of the dead and living at the concentration camps in WWII? What about the images of the dead we broadcasted over and over of the Kurds that were gassed in Iraq? Would it have served the Jews or the Kurds not to document the truth? We also broadcasted the pictures of the dead from the tsunami on American TV. Does it serve history to forever wipe the reality away? The gruesome images of tragedy have been and always will be the best tool for reminding us why we do something different now than we did before.

We can write books about the holocaust, but one picture will say more than all the volumes and volumes we could write. This is something that would not be forgotten because it is the loss of life that was the tragedy. Houses can be rebuilt. People can't. And if the images of this tragedy will remind people of what can happen if they don't leave their homes, then we have done an injustice to those who died by not showing the images.

Maybe there should be a moratorium on showing the images for 6 months or a year, but it is not something that should be swept under the rug.

We Should Be Proud

A general malaise has seemed to fall over the nation in the wake of the Gulf Coast disaster. Thousands are dead at home, our soldiers are still fighting and dying overseas, gas prices are skyrocketing, 65% of Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction, etc. There is not a lot to be "happy" about, but if anything, we should at least be proud. The tremendous outpouring of generosity and kindness over the last two weeks shows us that the American spirit is still alive and well. It shows us that our hearts and our minds are still with us. Regardless of the failures of state, local, and the federal government last week, the American people did not fail. We stood up and were our brothers keepers. We donated money, food, and clothing. We opened our homes to those who no longer had one. We converged on the South East in the form of firefighters, police, EMTs, doctors and nurses. We came together in our churches, schools, and community centers to figure out how we could help and how we could make a difference in the lives of those we have never met.

No, things are not great right now, but at least I am proud of what America did in the face of disaster. We did not give up, we did not give in, we did not concede. Wile we greve for those we lost, we should also be proud of what we did not lose - the knowledge of what it means to be an American.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More GOP Failings

Here are the eleven congressmen who just voted against the $51 billion package ( H. R. 3673) for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. All Republican conservatives.

Rep. Joe Barton - TX

Jeff Flake - AZ

Virginia Foxx - NC

Scott Garrett - NJ

John Hostettler - IN

Steve King - IA

Butch Otter - ID

Ron Paul - TX

James Sensenbrenner - WI

Tom Tancredo - CO

Lynn Westmoreland - GA

H/T Kos

The Repubilcans Just Don't Get It

And the Right claims it is the Left who is out of touch.

You have the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, claiming that maybe New Orleans would not be rebuilt.

You have former first lady, Barbara Bush, saying that the Hurricane was actually good for the victims.

You have Bush who thinks Michael Brown is doing a bang up job.

You have John Stossel who thinks price gouging ensures that resources only goes to those who really need it.

Yuo have Tom DeLay who thinks it is good to cut taxes on rich dead people, but sees no need to help middle class and poorer Americans with gas prices.

Now you also have Rick Santorum, the Senates number three Republican, claiming that those too poor to evacuate in the path of a hurricane should be punished.

"I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."

Have no car? No money? Lose your house to flooding? Lets just add a $1000 fine to the total.

I am not sure what planet these people are on, but if they would kindly send me their new address, it would be appreciated. I am not sure if Fed Ex will deliver interplanetarily, but I will try to make sure you still get my Christmas cards.

Tom DeLays PAC Indicted on Five Counts

More bad news for the embattled leader of the Republican Congress.

Grand Jury Indicts PAC Connected to DeLay

AUSTIN, Texas - A grand jury has indicted a political action committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and a Texas business group in connection with 2002 legislative campaign contributions.

The five felony indictments against the two groups were made public Thursday. Neither DeLay nor any individuals with the business group has been charged with any wrongdoing.

The charge against Texans for a Republican Majority alleged the committee illegally accepted a political contribution of $100,000 from the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.

Four indictments against the Texas Association of Business include charges of unlawful political advertising, unlawful contributions to a political committee and unlawful expenditures such as those to a graphics company and political candidates.