For Jenna Hager (nee Bush), a dose of humility based on this post.
Update 5/16/08: Oh, and by the way, Mrs. Hager, it was "practical" for Marine Lance Cpl. Casey Casanova also (here).
This story in the Bucks County Courier Times tells us that…
Compelled by the murder of Philadelphia police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Thursday called on Pennsylvania's congressional delegation to re-enact a federal assault weapons ban.And according to this information from The Brady Campaign, Rendell is absolutely right…
“This issue is quite simple,” Rendell said in a statement. “Either (you) support law enforcement or you don't. And if you don't, you'll have to tell the widow of the next victim or the young child of the next victim why you didn't vote to protect them.”
Q: Does law enforcement support the ban on assault weapons?And this Salon.com article tells us...
A: Every major national law enforcement organization in the country supported the federal assault weapons ban and worked for its passage (note: the ban was passed in 1994 but Dubya allowed it to “sunset” in 2004 despite his campaign promise to renew it). Among the many law enforcement organization that supported the ban are the Law Enforcement Steering Committee, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major City Chiefs Association, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, the National Black Police Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Police Executive Research Forum, and the Police Foundation.
Q: Why should the federal assault weapons ban be renewed?
A: Even with the success of the ban, assault weapons still pose a threat to the safety of all Americans, and particularly to law enforcement officers. Tens of thousands of "grandfathered" assault weapons are still in circulation, and thousands more will go into circulation if the ban is not renewed and gun manufacturers begin producing and selling them again. As one leading law enforcement executive put it, the weapons banned by the 1994 law are nothing more than "cop-killer guns."
"We've gone backwards in a lot of areas," says Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "In effect, the only real gun law we've got on the books now is the Brady background checks."And as far as last year’s Virginia Tech shootings are concerned…
Robert J. Spitzer, a distinguished service professor of political science at the State University of New York at Cortland, who wrote the book "The Politics of Gun Control," agrees. "It's an issue that's largely off the table," Spitzer explains. "You've got, basically, the Democrats running away from the issue and deciding that this is not where they want to hang their hats, and Republicans who are . . . extremely sympathetic to the policy goals of the [National Rifle Association]."
The expiration of the ban may have had some consequences in Blacksburg. ABC News has speculated that the shooter probably used a high-capacity ammunition clip of a type that was prohibited under the ban but became widely available when the ban expired. The other major piece of anti-gun legislation passed in the Clinton era, the Brady Bill, has been weakened as well, because of rules put in place by former Attorney General John Ashcroft when he took office in 2001.And here’s more on the Dems and their “running away” from the gun control issue, as Helmke noted…
The desire to court voters in swing states with a large percentage of gun owners is the primary reason that Democrats have recently tended to view the issue of gun control as poisonous. There were other reasons as well, however. First, there were fears that support for gun control could split a key Democratic constituency: union members. A survey done by Americans for Gun Safety has shown that 54 percent of union households own a gun. Moreover, gun control is an issue with what Spitzer describes as "hassle" and "intensity" factors that don't favor advocates. Supporters of gun rights are passionate in a way that supporters of gun control are not -- gun-rights backers are single-issue voters and activists, while on the other side, Spitzer says, "the typical gun control supporter is somebody for whom the issue is not a No. 1 concern, it's No. 6 or No. 8."And the article also notes the influence of “Third Way” characters such as Franklin Foer and one-time Dems Crazy Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman as individuals who did their best to steer the party away from gun control as an issue after the 2000 election, noting that Al Gore lost in southern states where the gun issue was considered part of the “culture war” that the Democrats perennially lost in prior elections for years (funny how that stuff slowly was trumped over time by our crappy economy, health care crisis and war without end in Iraq, wasn’t it?).
Doug Hattaway, who was national spokesman for Gore's 2000 campaign and is now the president of Hattaway Communications, concurs. Hattaway notes that organizations like the Brady Campaign cite the high public support for gun control measures, but says that support doesn't translate into electoral victories for Democrats.
"There's a difference between agreeing on an issue and having it motivate your vote," Hattaway says. "Yes, people agree, but there's not a potent pro-gun control constituency in national elections."
Congressman Patrick Murphy, D-8, a co-sponsor of a bill to reinstitute the assault weapons ban and son of a former Philadelphia police officer, said the government needs to be “proactive” to quell gun violence.Kudos to Patrick for reviving this issue and supporting Governor Rendell and Mayor Nutter.
“While I support the right of gun ownership and I believe in the Second Amendment, I strongly believe that if someone wants to fire an assault rifle they should join the military,” Murphy said.
Tom Manion, a Republican from Doylestown Township, said the focus should be on stricter law enforcement, not on enacting more gun laws.Maybe Manion ought to familiarize himself with the stories of James Oliver Huberty, who carried out the San Ysidro, CA McDonald’s massacre in 1984, or Sylvia Seegrist, who shot up the Springfield, PA Mall a year later. These people did not have prior records of criminal behavior, though they still committed horrific acts of gun violence.
“I really don't think a ban on assault weapons is going to do anything to keep the criminals from getting their hands on guns,” Manion said.
He noted all three men police accused in the Port Richmond bank robbery and fatal shooting of Liczbinski were released early from previous prison sentences. Had they served their full sentences, Manion said, the suspects would have been in jail Saturday when the Philadelphia police officer was slain.
“It's easy to look at the Second Amendment, but we have to focus on keeping the criminals off the streets,” Manion said.
Combustible-dust rules. Voting 247-165, the House passed a bill (HR 5522) directing the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to adopt rules for controlling combustible dust at factories. The regulations would preempt any state rules that do less to protect workers from dust explosions and fires. The federal rules would be in addition to existing OSHA regulations for grain silos. The bill would require interim rules within 90 days of enactment and final ones within 18 months. President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, which is now before the Senate.And why would President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History not veto this bill, given the following (from here)…
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Voting no: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).
Not voting: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.).
Since George W. Bush became president, OSHA has issued the fewest significant standards in its history, public health experts say. It has imposed only one major safety rule. The only significant health standard it issued was ordered by a federal court.Here is a link to the OSHA site, by the way; good luck getting blood from the proverbial stone.
The agency has killed dozens of existing and proposed regulations and delayed adopting others. For example, OSHA has repeatedly identified silica dust, which can cause lung cancer, and construction site noise as health hazards that warrant new safeguards for nearly three million workers, but it has yet to require them.
“The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency,” said Dr. David Michaels, an occupational health expert at George Washington University who has written extensively about workplace safety. “If they ever knew how to issue regulations, they’ve forgotten. The concern about protecting workers has gone out the window.”
Regulations delay. Voting 178-237, the House refused to delay action on new federal dust regulations until after completion of a government probe into causes of an explosion Feb. 7 at the Imperial Sugar refinery near Savannah, Ga., that killed 13 workers. The amendment was offered to HR 5522 (above).Here’s more on the Imperial Sugar refinery explosion; I’m sure the families and friends of those who were killed or injured will be happy to know that the sickening Repug obstruction here was defeated (though kudos to LoBiondo and Chris Smith once again – another good vote).
A yes vote was to delay the bill.
Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Pitts and Saxton.
Voting no: Brady, Fattah, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.
Not voting: Andrews.
Highway, transit spending. Voting 358-51, the House sent President Bush a bill (HR 1195) that would speed the release of billions of dollars previously authorized for highway and transit projects. The bill gives a green light to hundreds of earmarked projects and makes technical changes to expedite spending on other projects.I can’t believe Joe Pitts forgot to vote “No” here; I hope he’s feeling OK (and to help Bruce Slater, click here).
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Saxton, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.
Not voting: Andrews.
SenateThis week, the House took up bills to ease the U.S. housing crisis, while the Senate continued to debate federal aviation programs (and the farm-bill conference report may have come to a vote, but we'll find out...can you contain your excitement? :-).
Federal aviation budget. Voting 88-0, the Senate took a preliminary step toward debating a bill (HR 2881) authorizing $51 billion for Federal Aviation Administration programs through fiscal 2012. A threatened GOP filibuster rooted in disputes over amendments then delayed the bill. The Senate conducted no other votes during the week.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
Not voting: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.) and Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.)
So Deadeye Dick Cheney dropped into Philadelphia recently to give a 10-minute speech about how peachy our economy is supposed to be at the Northeast Philadelphia Financial Center, then flew out as fast as he could (as noted here).
“To tell Pennsylvania families that our economy is strong when so many of them are struggling is a slap in the face,” said Murphy, a Democrat who represents Bucks County and small parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. “It's time for Democrats and Republicans to start working together to solve problems instead of pretending that there are none.”And what does Murphy’s Repug opponent Tom Manion have to say about this?
(Manion), a Doylestown Township Republican running for Congress, called the stimulus plan (that Cheney propagandized about) a “short-term fix” and said the government needed to do more to deal with “significant problems” within the economy, particularly rising energy and health care costs.Yeah, like President Clueless filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the Saudis for restricting the flow of oil and driving up the price, as noted here (a short-term attempt at a solution I’ll admit, but better than nothing; of course, that will happen when Dubya is accepted into MENSA).
“Much more needs to be done,” Manion said.
Workers with job-based coverage for their families saw earnings rise 3% from 2001 to 2005, while their health insurance premium contribution increased 30%, according to the study by researchers at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota.In response, Dubya vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have provided a $30 billion extension of SCHIP coverage.
The average cost nationally of family coverage during the period increased nearly $2,500, to $10,728 from $8,281.
NEW YORK (Fortune) -- The Iraq war has already cost the lives of nearly 4,000 U.S. troops, but there is another cost that is not so readily quantifiable: the economic toll. Forecasts of the cost to the U.S. have reached into the trillions of dollars, fueling a controversy over the impact on the budget and the economy.And Dubya requested an additional $70 billion for the war, as noted here…
But what about preserving the homes of the “working people of America,” to use Deadeye Dick’s parlance?
$29 billion for the bailout of Bear Stearns, one of the largest investment banks and global trading firms in the world (here) $770 million in emergency food aid worldwide (here)
WASHINGTON (AP) - President George W. Bush and Congress are clashing over how to address the U.S. housing crisis, clouding the prospects of an election-year rescue package.So to summarize, Bushco continues to wage a war costing into the trillions of dollars (including $70 billion as noted above) while overseeing the $29 billion Bear Stearns bailout and requesting $770 million of food aid on top of that. Meanwhile, this regime won’t even bother to complain about the Saudis stringing us along over our oil dependency (profligate stupidity if it ever existed, primarily on our end) and denies expansion of medical coverage to sick families and children, and on top of that, opposes a $300 billion homeowner bailout over the subprime mortgage meltdown.
Bush said Wednesday he would veto Democrats' broad housing aid plan, saying it would not help struggling homeowners.
The measure, aimed at preventing foreclosures, would have the government step in to insure up to $300 billion (¤194.4 billion) in new mortgages for distressed homeowners. A House vote is expected by Thursday (I believe it passed).
The New York Times presented more Democratic “doom and gloom” yesterday (from here)…
All of this (re: Obama’s primary success) poses a challenge to Mr. Obama as he seeks to move the Clinton wing of the party beyond with (sic) the Clinton era without offending Mrs. Clinton’s considerable base of supporters. Exit polls in Indiana and North Carolina once again suggested just how cleaved the party is between young and old, white and black, lower-income and upper income.That’s interesting, given the fact that Obama’s support among white voters equals that of John Kerry four years ago (here). Also, this tells us that Obama is better at retaining Democrats for the general election against John W. McBush than Hillary. Finally, this tells us that Obama’s support remains unchanged after the “bitter” nonsense that played out during the PA primary and has pretty much rebounded after the manufactured media controversy surrounding a certain African American preacher here.
“It’s going to be hard,” said Bob Kerrey, a former senator from Nebraska, and a supporter of Mrs. Clinton. “Part of what I’ve seen in this campaign is how difficult it is to unite this party: To unite voters in West Virginia with Democratic voters in South Central Los Angeles. That is what he has to do and what is going to be hard.”Concerning Bob Kerrey, I present the following quote from Wikipedia…
“He has to learn to set aside grievances; and there are going to be plenty of them,” Mr. Kerrey said. “Can we disagree without being disagreeable? The answer is, no. We get disagreeable. And this has been a disagreeable primary.”
"Even before John Edwards was chasing ambulances in North Carolina and Barack was voting ‘present’ in the Illinois state senate, Senator Clinton was involved in major policy initiatives."And as we know, Kerrey emphasized Obama’s middle name here and charged that Obama had attended “a secular madrassa,” whatever the hell that is (he later apologized...and by the way, voting "present" in the Illinois state legislature is perfectly acceptable).
(Former Senator and presidential candidate Gary) Hart recalled that after a similarly divisive primary battle against Walter F. Mondale in 1984, he made a point of throwing all his effort into trying to get his supporters behind Mr. Mondale. In that case, Mr. Hart was more equivalent to Mr. Obama than Mrs. Clinton, having drawn new voters into the primary system.Yeah, well, the problem in 1984 was the fact that Ronnie Baby’s popularity was starting to rebound somewhat and he suckered in the majority of those younger and independent voters. It was easy to buy into the narrative that the incumbent Reagan had found his stride and represented “morning in America,” the “shining city on the hill” and all of that blather, and Mondale was just some old, tired New Dealer who was able to zing the Gipper once in a debate but, otherwise, not present himself as an alternative that too many people wanted (ignoring Mondale’s vast experience in government and the fact that he would probably have proved to be highly competent at the very least).
“I went to the platform and moved his nomination by acclamation,” Mr. Hart recalled. “And then I went out and did over 40 campaign events for him on my own. And I was not able to move the younger and independent voters, as the results made clear.”
After a one-paragraph review of Russia's success -- "true but only the lesser part of the truth" -- the authors launch into an unremitting assault on the crimes, follies and failures of the Putin administration. The central failure was not using the oil windfall to modernize the country's economy, army, health care, education and infrastructure.And as I noted here in March, Our Gal Condi Rice and Bob Gates had an opportunity to meet with leading Russian reformers in an attempt to put some pressure on Putin to try and reacquaint him with the concept of human rights in at least a rudimentary form, but chose not to sit down with the most influential individuals of that country.
Authoritarianism only brought corruption on a colossal scale -- $300 billion a year. Transparency International ranks Russia 143rd on its Corruption Perceptions Index, along with Gambia and Togo. The authors' analysis of the larceny under Putin is sharp, detailed and convincing. They do not hesitate to call his a "criminal system of government."
Meanwhile Russia is dying out. Men can expect to live less than 59 years ("I'm officially dead," a Russian friend said to me on turning 60). The annual numbers are bad -- car accidents (33,000), murder (30,000) and suicide (57,000). Drinking, smoking, poor diet and the lamentable health care system polish off even more.
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats and the White House moved ahead Wednesday with a compromise to break a years-long impasse over approving judges for the federal appeals court based in Ohio.The court in question is the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, by the way.
But Senate Republicans seemed markedly unenthusiastic about the plan as the Judiciary Committee held hearings on two nominees to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit who are at the heart of the compromise. One nominee is Helene N. White, a liberal Democratic candidate originally put forward by President Bill Clinton, while the other is Raymond M. Kethledge, a conservative Republican chosen by the Bush White House.So let me get this straight; the Repugs would end up with a 9-7 majority on the court if the deal goes through (as the story states), with White the Dem and Kethledge the GOP choice…and the Senate “Roadblock Republicans” are STILL unhappy??
One effect of the compromise would be to cement Republican conservative control of the court for the foreseeable future no matter who is elected president.
(Senate) Committee Republicans criticized the plan, saying it would allow the Democrats to shut down the confirmation process before other Bush appeals court nominees could be considered. They also made plain that they disapproved of Judge White, although their reasons for doing so were less clear. Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, criticized some of Judge White’s rulings as a state judge.I haven’t been able to determine exactly what rulings Our Man Arlen was wondering about, but from this story, we know he asked about the following…
"Did you ever get a (tax) bill that you didn't pay for a protracted period of time?" Specter asked White.Yeah, Arlen, you meanie – whaddaya wanna know next, the results of Judge White’s last visit to her gynecologist?
She answered, "I paid what I believed to be my taxes at the time. And if it turns out it's not correct, then I'll pay whatever I'm supposed to pay."
Specter launched into White's driving record, which she said includes speeding.
Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy jumped in and said if no one could be a judge or U.S. senator because they've speeded "there's going to be a pretty darned empty chamber around here if that is the standard."
Specter also hammered White on rulings that were overturned by a higher court, and forced her to acknowledge she doesn't have direct experience on what Specter termed "front-line issues" that federal appeals courts are dealing with -- such as whether the executive branch has overreached in trying to combat terrorism.
"There's always a 'first time' with any subject matter. The question is how the judge approaches it," White said of her Michigan state-focused resume.
Leahy jumped in and questioned one of the other three Michigan judicial appointees -- Raymond M. Kethledge -- to make the point that White was not the only candidate without judicial experience on high-stakes federal issues.
As part of the deal announced last month, White and Kethledge, a Troy (MI) attorney, were nominated to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.And the Times tells us the following about the Sixth Circuit court…
The nomination of Stephen Murphy, a Detroit U.S. attorney, to the appeals court was withdrawn to open space for White. Instead, Murphy was nominated to the U.S. District Court in Detroit (with White and Kethledge then receiving nominations for the Sixth Circuit).
The court, one of 13 regional appeals courts just below the level of the Supreme Court, hears cases from Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan. It is widely recognized as the most fractious appeals court in the nation as its judges not only regularly split along partisan lines but also have often used opinions to criticize the integrity of their opponents on the court.Sounds like a nice bunch; I guess a “fractious” confirmation process was to be expected, then. Of course, what would be REALLY funny is if the whole deal goes up in smoke, a Dem wins the White House in November, and then two Dem judges are nominated with the potential to deadlock the court at 8-8 and thus remove the one-member Repug advantage.
It's official: We're fighting . . . terrorists.Gosh, I’m so glad Little Ricky cleared that up, aren’t you? Why, I’m sure this has already been propagandized about, oh, I don’t know – maybe a few hundred times already??!!
You can also call them violent extremists if you like, but never use jihadist or mujahedeen or Islamo-fascist to describe our enemy. These words are deemed pejorative and offensive, according to a recent Bush administration memorandum to federal employees whose jobs involve explaining our ongoing war to the public.
In speeches I give across the country, I ask basic questions about the ideology and motivation of the enemy. The response? Blank stares. Seven years into this war, that's an indictment of our government rather than the intelligence of the public. Why should we learn about radical Muslims if they are not the problem?He’s actually right about our government’s failure to properly communicate what the true enemy is all about and why there are plenty of fundamentalist nut jobs out there who want to blow us up along with themselves. The problem is that if Little Ricky were to actually pursue that line of reasoning seriously, he would be forced to admit that our ongoing occupation of Iraq is the single biggest reason why these people want to kill us (we leave, and that removes a powerful incentive for new recruits to join al Qaeda and groups with similar inclinations against us).
I’m going to “dust off the memory banks” a bit here and delve into sports, which I haven’t done for a little while (sorry, but I just can’t deal with super delegates, declining home sales, a dead ice cream salesman, or the fact that almost 19,000 Indianans - ? – actually voted for Willard Mitt Romney in the Repug primary yesterday).
On July 29, 2006, against the Atlanta Braves, Julio Franco became the oldest player ever to pinch run, when he came in for Carlos Delgado after Delgado was hit by pitch. On September 19, 2006, a day after the Mets clinched the division title, Franco started at third base in a game against the Florida Marlins. This was Franco's first start at the position since his rookie year, an astonishing 24 years between starts at the position. Last Friday May 2nd, Franco, 49, officially announced his retirement from baseball to his Mexican league team, the Quintana Roo Tigers. He leaves baseball with a total of 4,229 career hits; the only other players with more hits are Pete Rose and Ty Cobb.
I had planned to post on yet another episode today of Incurious George lambasting Congress while we sink further into oblivion (I honestly wonder sometimes why any of the three current principals want to be president, considering the mess they will inherit from this clueless narcissist and his gang of pirates), but I came across this item today from Der Spiegel that I thought was much more interesting.
Khaldei used up an entire roll of film, shooting 36 photographs. Various versions of one of (the photos) became an icon of the 20th century. It was an image that came to symbolize the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Red Army's victory in both the German and Russian collective memories.As the story tells us, one of the reasons why the photo of the flag was doctored so much is because the Red Army soldier flying it was wearing wristwatches on each arm that he had stolen during the looting after the Reichstag fell.
After the war Khaldei became the victim of anti-Semitism in Stalin's totalitarian empire and fell into oblivion. It was only in 1991 that the Berlin artist Ernst Volland came across these photographs by chance in Moscow and decided to publish them in a book. On May 8, the anniversary of the end of World War II, Berlin's Martin Gropius Bau museum is opening a Khaldei retrospective, highlighting the work of the most important photojournalist of the Soviet era.
The exhibition will show photographs from the "Great Patriotic War" -- the Red Army's conquest of Sofia, Bucharest, Budapest and Vienna, the Potsdam conference and the Nuremberg trials. It will also feature photographs of everyday life in the Soviet Union, from before and after the war.
Fear not, GOP, your deliverer is at hand (or so he thinks anyway).
In what was titled “My Plea to Republicans,” published on the Web site of the periodical Human Events, Mr. Gingrich, a former speaker, urged House Republicans to convene an emergency meeting in the wake of Saturday’s loss of a longtime Republican House seat in Louisiana. He called on them to force the leadership into devising a new approach to the coming elections.The blogger Ara has dug more deeply into what Newt proposes here (good job; that’s more time and attention than I would have ever paid to this philandering blowhard) and tells us of the following points in Newt’s plan to deliver the party he once led in the U.S. House to "the promised land" (I’ve added the appropriate commentary)...
“This plan should involve real change in legislative, communications, and campaign strategy and involve immediate, real action, including a complete overhaul of the Congressional Campaign Committee,” Mr. Gingrich wrote.
1. Repeal the gas tax for the summerYeah, well, that’s pretty much been shown up to be nothing but a con at this point.
2. Redirect the oil being put into the national petroleum reserve onto the open market.Sure, as soon as President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History decides to go along with it, and there’s no sign at the moment that he intends to do that (here - and the "Edwards" is Chet, by the way).
3. Introduce a "more energy at lower cost with less environmental damage and greater national security" bill.Uh – OK; sounds like another PR job for the RNC…should keep them busy well into the fall. I’m sure Boehner and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao will be on board with this one.
4. Establish an earmark moratorium for one year.That’s going to be a real tough sell, as noted here.
5. Overhaul the census and cut its budget radically.As noted here, though funding and conducting the upcoming 2010 census properly would appear to be a partisan issue…
...miscounts in any direction are bad for democracy. The census is used to decide core issues, like the number of Congressional representatives from each state, the shape of electoral districts and the allocation of federal dollars. To the extent the census is skewed, so is government.Oh course, if you hate government like Dubya and the Repugs, well then, what's the dif, right?
6. Implement a space-based, GPS-style air traffic control system.Oh dear God, I’m laughing so hard over this one that I may bust a gut (hence the post title)!
7. Declare English the official language of government.Yep, just keep digging that hole, Newt – you’re really winning over the Hispanic vote that way, thank you very much.
8. Protect the workers' right to a secret ballot.Yes, we know you guys oppose the Employee Free Choice Act and have killed it, for now.
9. Remind Americans that judges matter.Yep, I think I just covered that, actually.
Others said it was not exactly a revelation that Republicans were suffering through some political turmoil. “Thanks a lot, Newt,” said Representative Mike Simpson, Republican of Idaho.Actually, Newt, I have an idea that may help you out. Why don’t you start raising funds to build a spaceship to Mars for every Republican in Washington? That way, you could all go there to live and create this wonderful, fantasy conservative kingdom you guys tried to achieve over the last eight years, thus leading to the presently ruinous state of this country.
A new study supports our fears: Supreme Court nominees present themselves one way at confirmation hearings but act differently on the court.And what of the Hangin’ Judge J.R. court then, of which McCain is so enamored? Well, from here, we learn that it…
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, for example, told the Senate that they had strong respect for Supreme Court precedents. On the court they were the justices most likely to vote to overturn those precedents.
And let's not forget the recent farce of the Indiana Voter ID ruling also.
Voted to severely limit the ability of women who were unlawfully denied equal pay for equal work, and other victims of wage discrimination under Title VII, to obtain back pay (Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.) Voted to strike down the voluntary integration plans of two public school districts, undermining the ability of school boards to promote racial diversity in their schools (Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1) Voted to limit the ability of federal taxpayers to challenge government expenditures that violate the Establishment Clause, undermining the separation of church and state (Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation) Voted to uphold the federal ban on so-called “partial birth” abortions, despite the absence of an exception in the law to protect a woman’s health (Gonzales v. Carhart) Voted to deny free speech protections to government employee internal whistleblowers (Garcetti v. Ceballos) Voted to undermine the Endangered Species Act (National Association of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife)
And as far as those who would be “waiting in the wings” for McCain were he given the chance to name them to the bench, we have the following…
Justices Loosen Restrictions on Campaign Ads 5-4 [“The Supreme Court today loosened the restrictions on what companies and unions can spend on television advertisements just before elections, and in so doing may well have affected the thinking of political strategists for the 2008 elections.” NYT] (Argued April 25, 2007—Decided June 25, No. 06–969. 2007* Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas) Justices Limit Student’s Speech Rights 5-4 [“…the court found that a high school principal and school board did not violate a student’s rights by punishing him for displaying the words “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” on a banner across the street from the school as the 2002 Olympic torch parade went by.” NYT] No. 06–278. 2007-Roberts, Scalia, (Argued March 19, 2007—Decided June 25, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy)
And I’m sure that, in a McCain presidency, we would also see the return of individuals such as Miguel Estrada, a lawyer and member of the Federalist Society who has never served as a judge, and who withdrew his name from consideration for the D.C. Court of Appeals in September 2003 (despite the outcry from conservative stalwarts such as Orrin Hatch, Bushco didn’t even go to the trouble of requiring Estrada to complete a job application, as noted by former Dem Senate leader Tom Daschle – I’ll never forget the supremely arrogant look on Estrada’s face as all of this played out at his hearing).
William Pryor, who voted in a similar manner as the majority of The Supremes did in the Ledbetter case, and also ruled to deny adoption rights to same-sex couples. Priscilla Owen, who voted to overturn a $3.5 million jury verdict in favor of a woman who was the victim of medical malpractice, on the ground that she should have known sooner that the drug doctors prescribed for her during her pregnancy could have caused her serious heart and lung problems even though her doctors themselves claimed that the drug did nothing to cause her injuries (try figuring that one out – The Eternal Molly Ivins absolutely despised her as a judge, and for good reason). Janice Rogers Brown (D.C. Cir.), who tried to rewrite legal protection for employees against sexual harassment under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, explicitly contradicting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and several previous court decisions (Lutkewitte v. Gonzales); she also has ruled that the EPA doesn’t have the right to regulate vehicle emissions.
The annual snubbing of World Press Freedom Day by U.S. newspapers and other media is yet another indication of our insularity. This is a big deal in the rest of the world. There will be demonstrations in Paris and London. In Mozambique, Unesco, the UN agency that created the day 15 years ago, will present the 2008 Unesco/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to the courageous Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro (pictured), who was arrested and sued for criminal libel by state authorities covering up for the ring of powerful pedophiles she exposed in her reporting.And of course, the world’s biggest offender when it comes to jailing of journalists is the one holding the lion’s share of our debt, as it turns out…
Just this Thursday, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) said at least 10 foreign journalists based in China have received death threats.The news is barely any better at many other countries in the world also, as noted here.
In a poll several months ago, club members reported 180 violations of the "liberalized" media restrictions, including arrests and surveillance of journalists. The poll also included the question, "Has China kept the promise made by Olympics Games organizer Wang Wei in Beijing in 2001, that, 'We will give foreign media complete freedom of reporting.'"
Just 8.6% of members said yes it had.
On Wednesday, for instance, the Hong Kong government denied entry to Zhang Yu, a Swedish-based editor and coordinator of the Writers in Prison Committee of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, who was coming to the city for an international conference on freedom of expression in China.And lo and behold, that alleged threat to “national security” is the exact same reason Bushco opposes passage of a media shield law currently awaiting activity within Congress (based on this, it looks like the Senate has to “keep this ball rolling”; since we pretty much ignored World Press Freedom Day in this country, I think following through on this piece of legislation is the least we can do).
WAN reports that this is the third time Zhang, who holds a valid Chinese passport, has turned away from his homeland in just the last year. The reason given is that his work for PEN, the free expression group, somehow endangers national security.
…19 of 699 DEA intelligence analysts surveyed had only low-level security clearances needed to review intelligence, while another 62 had not been reauthorized to keep their top secret clearances, as required every five years. One additional analyst had no security clearance at all as of last September, the audit found.Uh huh: the story states that “an estimated 20,000 employees and contractors work for the DEA.”
All DEA analysts are required to have top secret clearance in order to fully do their jobs.
“Because our testing showed approximately 12 percent of DEA's intelligence analysts' security clearances did not meet the DEA's security requirements, we are concerned that similar deficiencies may exist in the approximately 19,300 clearances that we did not review,” the audit noted.
The DEA collects intelligence and other information about drug smugglers and shares it with other spy and law enforcement agencies. It was formally included in the government's intelligence community in February 2006.Almost two years to complete an intelligence report, God knows how many agency employees working without the proper clearance…yep, this is Bushco, Working For You! yet again.
Other intelligence agencies, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the State Department, praised the information gleaned from DEA analysts.
“We also assessed the quality, usefulness and effectiveness of intelligence analysts' work, the audit noted. “Our surveys and interviews indicated that both internal and external users generally were satisfied with DEA intelligence analysts' work.”
However, a survey of 16 DEA intelligence reports found they took an average of 21 months to be completed and published.
The most startling statement in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation of Andrew Chambers (cited in Guither’s post) was from Michele Leonhart:It should be noted, by the way, that Chambers' snitching career was finally ended (despite numerous complaints within the DEA about Chambers' perjury problem that were ignored) by then-Attorney General Janet Reno in 2000.
"The only criticism (of Chambers) I've ever heard is what defense attorneys will characterize as perjury or a lie on the stand."
She continued by saying that once prosecutors check him out, they'll agree with his admirers in DEA that he's "an outstanding testifier."
That's the key. To an agent like Leonhart, getting the bust and getting the conviction is all that matters. The testimony is good if it leads to a successful conclusion (from her perspective). Why nitpick about the truth?
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, by a 2-to-1 vote, ruled (on 5/1) that the nuisance law (the city argued that the gun makers were in violation of that law) does not count because it does not apply specifically to gun sales. That is a bad reading of the federal law. Congress said only that the state law must be “applicable” to gun sales, and the nuisance law — which prohibits creating a condition that endangers the safety of others — clearly is.And you can add this to the other infamous ruling by the court of Judge Dennis G. Jacobs here, namely that former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman could not be held liable for assuring residents near Ground Zero that the air was safe to breathe, even though U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts (whose ruling was overturned by the Second Circuit) said that Whitman’s actions “shocked the conscience.”
Congress, of course, is also very much to blame, for trying to immunize the gun industry in the first place. It should not insulate its friends from the responsibilities imposed by the civil justice system. The way for the gun industry to protect itself from liability is to obey the law.
WASHINGTON — Defying President Bush, House Democrats are preparing to forge ahead with a war spending measure that would include extended unemployment assistance and new educational benefits for returning veterans.Cue the predictable Repug umbrage…
After a meeting Monday evening of House Democratic leaders, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hoped to bring a $178 billion measure to the floor this week. What could be a contentious debate on the matter is likely to be held on Thursday, aides said.
“The Democrat leaders of the House and Senate are attempting to jam a 200-plus-billion-dollar spending bill through the Congress with absolutely no oversight or scrutiny by a vast majority of members, senators or their constituents,” Representative Jerry Lewis of California, the senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement on Monday. “Never in my 30 years in Congress has there been such an abuse of the processes and rules of the House.”Oh, that’s rich (and the “Democrat” leaders also – nice touch, scumbag).
Lewis has received $88,252 from Wilkes and his associates. He is the third-highest recipient of campaign contributions from Brent Wilkes trailing only Cunningham and John Doolittle, who is a self-professed friend of Wilkes.And by the way, Doolittle decided last January not to seek re-election under suspicion of numerous questionable dealings; he gave up his seat on the Appropriations Committee in April 2007 “in the wake of FBI agents searching his house in a congressional influence-peddling investigation” (one particularly odorous moment with Doolittle was the time he tried to remove FDR from the dime and replace him with Ronald Reagan – former Philadelphia Daily News columnist Pete Dexter called Doolittle “a lying, unprincipled, crooked piece of human garbage,” and that’s good enough for me...Doolittle is also being investigated for alleged ties to Jack Abramoff, of course).
The key issue is ethics, as McGoff hammers Burton for skipping House votes to attend a golf tournament and for casting the only no vote against a bill banning gifts from lobbyists. He's said he wanted a stronger bill.Where to begin with this guy? Well, let’s start with the Helms-Burton act then, a truly odious piece of legislation that tried to punish non-U.S. corporations and non-U.S. investors who have economic interests in Cuba, as noted here; it earned such international ridicule that Canada passed a similar law calling for the return of Canadian property in this country seized during the American Revolution (the law was never enforced), and the EU passed a law making it a crime to comply with Helms-Burton (a crime to comply with a U.S. law – think about how mind boggling that is).
"He's being badgered because of absenteeism and arrogance, and he finally has a quality opponent," said Jim McDowell, a political scientist at Indiana State University.
Burton has been forced to spend more than $1 million, a career high, to fight off McGoff's challenge. McGoff has spent less than $400,000.
In 1997, Burton was accused of demanding a $5,000 contribution from a Pakistani lobbyist. When the lobbyist was unable to raise the funds, Burton complained to the ambassador for the Bhutto government and later threatened to make sure "none of his friends or colleagues" would meet with the lobbyist or his associates.So do your duty, any Repug Hoosiers who may be reading this (I can dream). Make sure this isn’t the “right place, wrong time” for Dr. John (snark).
In 1998, Burton admitted to fathering a child outside of his marriage.
That same year, his investigation of campaign fundraising irregularities during the 1996 Presidential campaign ground to a halt when it was revealed that his staff had doctored transcripts of prison phone calls made by former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell.
In 2006, he fought against extending the Voting Rights Act for minorities.
WASHINGTON — Sometimes, as Senator Barack Obama seemed to argue earlier this year, a flag pin is just a flag pin.And I just love the way that Toner treats all of this as anything but absolutely scurrilous, by the way (which surely would have occurred if a Dem had done this to a Repug).
But it can never be that simple for anyone with direct experience of the 1988 presidential campaign. That year, the Republicans used the symbols of nationhood (notably, whether schoolchildren should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance) to bludgeon the Democrats, challenge their patriotism and utterly redefine their nominee, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts.
The memory of that campaign — reinforced, for many, by the attacks on Senator John Kerry’s Vietnam war record in the 2004 election — haunts Democrats of a certain generation.
The 1988 campaign was, in many ways, the crucible that helped create Bill Clinton’s centrist philosophy and his fierce commitment to attack and counterattack, which drove the politics of the 1990s.You…have…got…to…be…FREAKING…KIDDING…ME!
Twenty years ago, the nation was in an era of comparative peace and prosperity; a sense of crisis did not hang over the election. Today, with the war in Iraq in its sixth year and the economy stumbling, more than 8 in 10 Americans say the country is on the wrong track. A new generation of voters have entered the electorate, who may not be as susceptible to values issues.See, as far as our corporate media is concerned, the ENDLESS fixation with a certain black preacher, a candidate’s bowling score or basketball prowess as well or the aforementioned attacks on one’s patriotism are all “values issues.” Not ridiculous, mindless nonsense that fills up our dialogue like cotton candy, slowly dissipating as we realize that we’ve been hoodwinked out of a legitimate discussion of issues AGAIN. Not a total abdication of any sense of journalistic ethics or responsibility.
In such a climate, it would presumably be far more difficult than in 1988 to keep the campaign focused on symbolic, values-related issues, or matters of personality.
Even with so many big issues at stake this time around, the race between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton has often been focused on questions of values, background and character — witness the recent fixation on Mr. Obama’s ties to the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., or the continued unfounded rumors that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.Oh, but even though “unfounded,” you’re going to repeat them anyway, aren’t you, Toner (as opposed to ignoring them for the freeper agit-prop that they are)? Nice job.
Attacks on a presidential candidate’s patriotism are hard for many politicians to take seriously. “Unless you’re talking about the Manchurian candidate, the idea that someone who put their heart and soul into running for president didn’t care deeply for their country is kind of ridiculous,” said Drew Westen, a psychologist and political consultant.But again, that doesn’t stop you guys from repeating it anyway (and nice job to parrot Mann Coulter’s talking points, Drew – Westen is one of these guys who keeps telling Democrats to “dumb down” their campaigns and talk to voters like they’re stupid (here)…actually, all it takes is someone with a minimum of speaking talent and an ability to interact with voters and a rapid response against Repug slime, and with all due respect to Al Gore and John Kerry, they really didn’t have any of that, though they would have been wonderful presidents – sigh – and somehow I don’t think we’ll be hearing Westen dispensing any advice to Obama on this).
“Republicans have been trying to put us in the same box for 40 years now,” Mr. Reed said. “We win elections when we don’t let them.”And our media has been trying to do the same thing for at least half that amount of time (and the same thing happens when we don’t let them either).