Saturday, April 23, 2005
AP/Yahoo: Bolton Finds U.N. Nomination in Jeopardy
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer -
1 hour, 26 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Withdraw or be pushed out by the White House. Survive the test of his professional life. Suffer a rejection by the Senate. That's about what it comes down to for John R. Bolton,'s besieged nominee to be U.N. ambassador.
Bolton could weather the indignity of further investigation into his personal and professional behavior and win confirmation by the Senate next month. He also could find his nomination scuttled. Or he could pull the plug before a scheduled May 12 vote by a Senate committee.
Religiopolitics, by Terry Barhorst
the past few years, you now know why the "Founding Fathers" sought
and the courts constantly guard the division of church and state.
Faith, is a rampart of religion and the soul. Being such it has no
need of logic and common sense reality. In many cases emotion takes
the place of thought with the faithful.
Law, is a standard of physical conduct. Being such it has constant
need of logic and common-sense reality. Emotion must be subjugated
to constant thought, study, research, and their application.
Countries with a foundation in a single religion have always spent
much of their history with a layered class structure. The "common
man" was always at the bottom of that structure with little upward
mobility. The clergy and the aristocracy always stood at the top of
the structure, one supporting the other.
Right now, we are seeing in real time the scuffling for
place of those who seek such a system in the United States. The
aristocrats of clergy and capitalists are emerging. Using those in
their pay who practice religiopolitics, they seek to override the
system the "Founding Fathers" put in place.
Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Abi-Demian: State Dem. Chair Charles Soechting wows Abilene
* State Dem. Chair Charles Soechting wows Abilene
* 3 Democratic challengers to DeLay plan gentlemanly primary contest
* AP/Yahoo: Cheney vows to break Senate tie vote, if there is one, to stop filibusters on judges
* April 27, 2005, 9 am, HAVA briefing on voting machines, Taylor County courthouse
Texas Democratic Party Chair:
AP/Yahoo: Cheney vows to break Senate tie vote if there is one to stop filibusters on judges
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer Fri Apr 22, 4:57 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Vice Presidentsaid Friday he would vote in the Senate to stop filibusters of judicial nominees if given the chance. That means is breaking his word to stay out of the fight over Senate rules, Democratic leader Harry Reid responded.
"Let me emphasize, the decision about how to proceed will be made by the Republican leadership in the Senate," Cheney said in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association at the National Press Club. "But if the Senate majority decides to move forward and if the issue is presented to me in my elected office as president of the Senate and presiding officer, I will support bringing those nominations to the floor for an up-or-down vote."
Reid said the White House was "shattering the checks and balances in our government in order to put radical judges on the bench." The Nevada senator said Bush was making it clear he no longer wanted to work with Democrats.
"Last week, I met with the president and was encouraged when he told me he would not become involved in Republican efforts to break the Senate rules," Reid said. "Now, it appears he was not being honest, and that the White House is encouraging this raw abuse of power."
Cheney said a minority of senators are using the filibuster to, in effect, establish a 60-vote requirement for judicial confirmation "in an astounding departure from historical precedent."
"There is no justification for allowing the blocking of nominees who are well qualified and broadly supported," Cheney said. "The tactics of the last few years, I believe, are inexcusable, particularly when you are dealing with men and women of the caliber of those nominated by George W. Bush. By any standard of judicial merit, they are fully qualified to serve and by any standard of fairness, they deserve a vote in the United States Senate."
Democrats say it is Cheney who is trying to reinvent Senate history by changing the filibuster rules. Full story: http://beta.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050422/ap_on_go_co/filibuster_fight
Friday, April 22, 2005
MMfA: Matthews on DeLay--Democrats are "pick[ing] points" about House ethics committee because they "want to keep basting him as he rotates..."
But neither Fund nor Matthews mentioned that Democrats say they turned down an offer by Republicans on the committee to initiate an investigation because Republicans have strongly undermined the committee's ability to initiate investigations of alleged misconduct by House members, including DeLay. As Media Matters for America has noted, Republicans changed ethics committee rules in January in order to grant either party complete power to block a complaint against a fellow party member. They have also replaced two Republican committee members with two other Republican congressmen who have donated to DeLay's legal defense fund.
NY Times: Frist Draws Criticism from Some Church Leaders
The New York Times - Friday 22 April 2005
Washington - As the Senate battle over judicial confirmations became increasingly entwined with religious themes, officials of several major Protestant denominations on Thursday accused the Senate Republican leader, Bill Frist, of violating the principles of his own Presbyterian church and urged him to drop out of a Sunday telecast that depicts Democrats as "against people of faith."
Dr. Frist's participation has rekindled a debate over the role of religion in public life that may be complicating his efforts to overcome the Democrats' use of the filibuster, a parliamentary tactic used by Congressional minorities, to block President Bush's judicial nominees.
Dr. Frist has threatened to change the Senate rules to eliminate judicial filibusters, and in response Democrats have threatened a virtual shutdown of the Senate. A confrontation had been expected as early as next week, but it now appears that the showdown may be delayed.
Religious groups, including the National Council of Churches and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, plan to conduct a conference call with journalists on Friday to criticize Senator Frist's participation in the telecast. The program is sponsored by Christian conservative organizations that want to build support for Dr. Frist's filibuster proposal.
Among those scheduled to speak in the conference call is the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, a top official of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., in which Dr. Frist is an active member.
"One of the hallmarks of our denomination is that we are an ecumenical church," Mr. Kirkpatrick said in an interview on Thursday. He also said, "Elected officials should not be portraying public policies as being for or against people of faith."
A spokesman for Dr. Frist said his remarks, which are not yet available, would be consistent with previous statements about fair treatment for judicial nominees. "I would hope that he would read Dr. Frist's remarks," the spokesman, Bob Stevenson, said of Mr. Kirkpatrick.
Mr. Stevenson added that the timing of the confrontation on filibusters was not related to the criticisms that have been raised about the telecast, saying Dr. Frist still planned to propose a compromise to the Democrats.
Still, the Senate moved closer to a showdown on Thursday, when the Senate Judiciary Committee, voting along party lines, approved two nominees, Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla R. Owen, who were blocked by a filibuster in the last Congress and are expected to be blocked again. Republican strategists consider the nominees - two women, one of whom is black - favorable choices for a filibuster fight.
There were signs, though, that Dr. Frist was planning to postpone the confrontation for at least another two weeks, when the Senate returns from a spring recess.
Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, said Dr. Frist had told him he would like to take up a transportation measure next week, an indication that he did not expect a filibuster fight before the Congressional recess. Polls, meanwhile, suggest a lack of public support for ending the filibuster. A recent survey conducted for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that 50 percent of those polled believed that the Senate should retain the filibusters for judicial nominations, while 40 percent were against and 10 percent undecided.
The theme of the telecast, which is called Justice Sunday and will be broadcast to churches and Christian radio and television networks, is "The Filibuster Against People of Faith." Its sponsors argue that by blocking judicial nominees who oppose abortion rights on religious and moral grounds, Democrats are effectively discriminating against those nominees.
Dr. Frist has agreed to provide a four-minute videotaped statement for the event. Democrats are calling his participation evidence of Republican extremism.
"We're going to allow the majority leader to invoke faith to rewrite Senate rules, to put substandard, extremist judges on the bench?" Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat and former presidential nominee, said Thursday on the Senate floor. Mr. Kerry added, "It's not up to us to tell any one of our colleagues what to believe as a matter of faith."
Christian conservatives have also accused Senator John Salazar of Colorado, a Roman Catholic, of tolerating anti-Catholicism from his fellow Democrats who oppose nominees who follow the church's teachings on abortions.
On Thursday, Mr. Salazar responded by issuing a statement taking to task one of the telecast's speakers, Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, for deprecating the Catholic faith. It quoted Mr. Mohler as saying "the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel" and "the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."
Dr. Mohler called Mr. Salazar's statement "absolutely ridiculous," saying it was hardly news that evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics "differ on many key theological issues." He said he supported a Catholic nominee the Democrats had opposed.
In the past two weeks, religious leaders on both sides of the judicial battle have plunged into the debate. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is distributing millions of postcards around the country for parishioners to send their senators asking them not to insist that nominees uphold abortion rights. Evangelical Protestant groups like Focus on the Family have been portraying the confirmation debates as a fight over public expression of religion and respect for traditionalist values.
Now the liberal group People for the American Way is buying advertisements and distributing church program inserts that attack Senator Frist for invoking religious faith in what it says is a partisan context. The National Council of Churches is asking members to organize news conferences denouncing Dr. Frist.
The criticism of the telecast underscores the delicate task facing Dr. Frist, who is laying the groundwork for a possible presidential campaign in 2008, as he courts the evangelical Protestant groups and other religious traditionalists that formed the bedrock of President Bush's winning coalition. With his patrician bearing and background in the relatively liberal Presbyterian Church, Dr. Frist, a Harvard-trained transplant surgeon, does not fit in as naturally with Christian conservatives as President Bush.
Dr. Frist's overtures to Christian conservatives have drawn the ire of the more liberal hierarchies of other religious groups, including the officials of his own denomination. Dr. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches and a former Democratic congressman, said he had sought to include Mr. Kirkpatrick, of the Presbyterian Church, in the conference call both because Dr. Frist is Presbyterian and because of the church's emphasis on ecumenicalism.
"To say that some group of Christians has a monopoly on the ear of God is especially an outrage to Presbyterians," Mr. Edgar said.
Mr. Kirkpatrick said Dr. Frist's participation in the telecast undermined "the historical commitment in our nation and our church to an understanding of the First Amendment that elected officials should not be portraying public policies as being for or against people of faith."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, said those who were offended did not have to watch the telecast.
"There are millions of other Americans who see a connection between the filibuster and judicial activism," Mr. Perkins said. "And when we talk about judicial activism, we are talking about issues that people faith care about deeply."
Fw from DSCC: Don't Be Distracted by Anti-Filibuster Rhetoric
LA Times: 2 Evangelicals Want to Strip Courts' Funds
By Peter Wallsten - Times Staff Writer, 2 hours, 36 minutes ago
WASHINGTON — Evangelical Christian leaders, who have been working closely with senior Republican lawmakers to place conservative judges in the federal courts, have also been exploring ways to punish sitting jurists and even entire courts viewed as hostile to their cause.
An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.
The discussion took place during a Washington conference last month that included addresses by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who discussed efforts to bring a more conservative cast to the courts.
Frist and DeLay have not publicly endorsed the evangelical groups' proposed actions. But the taped discussion among evangelical leaders provides a glimpse of the road map they are drafting as they work with congressional Republicans to achieve a judiciary that sides with them on abortion, same-sex marriage and other elements of their agenda.
"There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's more than one way to take a black robe off the bench," said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, according to an audiotape of a March 17 session. The tape was provided to The Times by the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
DeLay has spoken generally about one of the ideas the leaders discussed in greater detail: using legislative tactics to withhold money from courts.
"We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse," DeLay said at an April 13 question-and-answer session with reporters.
The leaders present at the March conference, including Perkins and James C. Dobson, pictured here, founder of the influential group Focus on the Family, have been working with Frist to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations, a legislative tool that has allowed Senate Democrats to stall 10 of President Bush's nominations. Frist is scheduled to appear, via a taped statement, during a satellite broadcast to churches nationwide Sunday that the Family Research Council has organized to build support for the Bush nominees.
The March conference featuring Dobson and Perkins showed that the evangelical leaders, in addition to working to place conservative nominees on the bench, have been trying to find ways to remove certain judges.
Perkins said that he had attended a meeting with congressional leaders a week earlier where the strategy of stripping funding from certain courts was "prominently" discussed. "What they're thinking of is not only the fact of just making these courts go away and re-creating them the next day but also defunding them," Perkins said.
He said that instead of undertaking the long process of trying to impeach judges, Congress could use its appropriations authority to "just take away the bench, all of his staff, and he's just sitting out there with nothing to do."
These curbs on courts are "on the radar screen, especially of conservatives here in Congress," he said.
Dobson, who emerged last year as one of the evangelical movement's most important political leaders, named one potential target: the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court," Dobson said. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."
Robert Stevenson, a spokesman for Frist, said Thursday that the Senate leader does not agree with the idea of defunding courts or shutting them down, pointing to Frist's comments earlier this month embracing a "fair and independent judiciary." A spokesman for DeLay declined to comment.
The remarks by Perkins and Dobson drew fire from Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who charged that the two leaders were more brazen in such private encounters with supporters than their more genteel public images portray.
"To talk about defunding judges is just about the most bizarre, radical approach to controlling the outcome of court decisions that you can imagine," Lynn said.
CHARLES SOECHTING INTERVIEWED BY ABILENE REPORTER NEWS – 4/21/05
- Tart teasers:
“George Bush is more overrated than #2 yellow pine.”
On Perry: “if they really knew about him, they would not vote for him.”
On Chris Bell: “he stood up to Tom DeLay when no one else would.”
On redistricting: “you don't benefit from criminal conduct.”
And: “The Marymont Cafe in Austin has 4 congressional district in it.”
On abortion: “Pro-choice means you have a choice to be pro-life.”
On Limbaugh: “he's a drug-using liar.”
On Karl Rove: “an evil man. No one who's not mentally ill
should divide our country like he has.”
On Charlie Stenholm: “forgot more about agriculture in 15 minutes
than Randy Neugebauer will ever know."
On the SDEC: “if you get lemons, you make lemonade.”
On party building: “School board and city council are your farm club.”
On Terry McCauliff: “we did not gee and haw well.
He treated Texas as an ATM machine.”
On John Kerry: “he didn't meet with the SDEC when in town.”
“Dean will be different.”
Editors’ questions & Soechting’s answers:
Do you agree with N.M. Governor Bill Richardson's statement that the Democrats need to be for positive things and not just against negative things? Should they stand for something? Well, we've tried to help Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick come up with a viable school finance plan, although he doesn't appreciate our help. We're coping with our sorry state of public education.
We're promoting good fiscal policy with our state Medicaid program and CHIPS, which the Republicans have opposed. The federal government has $800 million earmarked for Texas for this program, but Governor Perry is not willing to pay a third of that total cost (another $400M). The feds would pay two dollars for every dollar the state pays, and the governor is not willing. Children are sick, but they can't afford to see a doctor. Instead they go to the emergency room, and we taxpayers pay for that hidden cost. When they do that, their parents miss work the next day -- because CHIPS is for working people -- and that's another hidden cost. It's the same with Medicare with our seniors, whom we should not neglect. This is something more broken than the 10 commandments.
We're opposing organized crime in Austin. Corporations and unions should not give money to politicians. Speaker Craddick and 20 Republicans violated that.
We'd reinstate the $1,000 bonus to our teachers that the Republicans rejected. Six of our Democrat legislators took a walk on this.
It's like in business, we're fighting a hostile takeover by the Republicans.
I'm against gambling, although I represented the first lottery vendor. Gambling is slimy. G-tech has nothing on these guys. The Republicans are lobbying for gambling, but I predict they will maneuver to blame Democrats for its passing. Speaker Craddick, Gov. Perry & Lt. Gov. Dewhurst are all behind it. The governor's man Mike Twomey is the chief lobbyist. The people just didn't elect very honest people.
Are voters for fiscal conservatism? They thought that's what they voted for. The people largely don't know the fiscal shape the country is in. As long as they get their paycheck, they think everything's ok. We've mortgaged our children's and our grandchildren's future.
Hasn't the state legislature honored the president? Wasn't there important work done? George Bush is more overrated than #2 yellow pine. I don't think he's overwhelmed with the job. His handlers are pushing the agenda. There was Phil Gramm's dead-peasant insurance plan for school teachers. Bush's Social Security privatization just would help stock brokers make money. The richest of rich people make a lot more money.
What about Governor Perry's re-election? I hope he wins the Republican primary. He is beatable but it would be tough. I think he would beat (Senator) Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary, because of his fundamentalist base. But if they really knew about him, they would not vote for him.
What about the governor's home town being in Congressman Mack Thornberry's district? Off the record, there have been so many shenanegans -- he's gotten a free pass for so long.
Who do you see as a formidable Democratic opponent for Rick Perry? Two names are emerging: Chris Bell -- you say he has low name ID, but he's out and around the state a lot. People are realizing he stood up to Tom DeLay when no one else would. It took guts to expose DeLay for the crook and probably criminal he's fast becoming.
John Sharp is making the rounds as well. He draws from different segments of the party, and Republicans as well.
What about Pete Laney? I love Pete. He keeps his own counsel. Someone like that has the ability if he wanted to.
My mom worked for Chris Bell in Houston and she's worried about Chris Bell's wife's cancer? Allison is doing well with her chemotherapy.
Will Carole Keeton Strayhorn switch to Democrat and run for Governor? No. I teased her by putting a Proposition 12 sticker on her bumper when she visited my office building in San Marcos. I like her a lot personally. I give her a lot of credit. She's honest. She has not been unfair to Rick Perry. Her stands have not been opportunism. She is the Chief Financial Officer of the state. Compare it to a corporation whose CEO is not honest. Fast Al's counterpart is Speaker Craddick, although I'd not put Lt. Gov. Dewhurst in that deal. The company does not balance its books. It claims how good things are. But the folks in state government are getting very rich. The Delay issue is now with his family involved in fund raising. This is a community property state, so there is an issue whether he can take that money as an office holder.
But wasn't the money disbursed in D.C.? No, the residence of a congressman is his home state. The issue of his community property income from his wife's paycheck from his PAC needs to be looked at legally.
But I went online for Neugebauer - concerning his reimbursements to his wife and son, although it was not these kinds of dollars? Lots of plane tickets reimbursed? To and from D.C., could it have been paid by his campaign committee? Was it all related to his campaign or to see their grandkids? It's a matter of how to get to some of it. Some Democrats have ethical issues as well. The Ethics committee -- let me give you an example or courthouse analogy -- Tom Delay, he's the fellow who picked the jury in his own criminal case, he himself decided whether to call a grand jury on his own case -- this would be called blatant, obscene jury tampering. If a lawyer did this, it would be considered the same as giving a jury money. San Marcos where I live is split into two districts. Lamar Smith represents the district where I'm building a new home. Lamar won't vote even to have an informal inquiry. Redistricting was criminal. But we're going to lose the 3-judge panel decision, because politics affects these decisions. Hopefully at the Supreme Court we have a fair chance -- better than 50/50 with Justice Kennedy's opinion in the Pennsylvania case -- we will be there. To paraphrase Justice Kennedy -- if redistricting was done for purely political reasons, he would not uphold it. There were other reasons in the Pennsylvania case. In the Texas redistricting case testimony, there were no bones about it, it was purely political reasons, they did it because they could. As for the court's remedy, no one can guess, but they would have to rectify the situation, if they find a violation of voting rights laws. How they might restore it, I don't know. 2010 is set up for redistricting again. That's what we're planning for now -- 2004 was our first non-loss election since 1972 -- we had a one-seat gain in the Texas legislature. With the open seats and a challenger we won 5/10 and a came a few hundred votes of winning one more. Many were Craddick's lieutenants -- he lost 7 in his leadership team, including Hubert Vo's opponent, Talmadge Heflin. We watched that district carefully, and knew what we had there. We have a great voter file now -- better than the Republicans. God knows, what the court's remedy might be. But the law is, you don't benefit from criminal conduct.
But haven't they already benefited? Charlie Stenholm's seat won't be restored, will it? Democrats have to do a better job of defining who we are; Republicans put out a definition of us that is not true. I'm a pro-life Democrat. Pro-choice means you have a choice to be pro-life. There's lots of room for that. Rush Limbaugh defines us, but he's a drug-using liar.
What message is not true? That from the very top, the Democratic Party controls the media -- nothing is further from the truth. FOX and MSNBC drive a message to make people hate persons of color and different sexual orientation -- some of our best teachers, Sunday school or public school teachers are persons of color and different sexual orientation -- the Republicans pander to the kind of fear that should not exist in a civilized, decent nation.
In the Democratic Party or society at large -- how do we begin to overcome this social polarization? We expose the frauds for what they are. Expose Delay for what he is about -- making money and gaining power. Sympathy is not in his dictionary. Expose bad people on both sides, including a few Democrats. There is too much social polarization, but not by us. Republicans planned it and are playing it out -- right down the middle. The middle is torn and beat up the worst. We had the largest tax increase in the history of Texas. They priced college tuition out of ability of the average family. I am a product of public education. I could not afford it now. Bush will look you in the eye and say he supports more college grants and it's not so.
They say tort reform will lower your insurance premiums and it does not happen. Take $2.20 per gallon for gas. It'll drop down to $1.95 but that's 20 cents higher than before. They did that before. Oil companies get corporate welfare. $88B to Iraq would have helped a lot of people here at home.
But poeple are not reading newspapers or watching traditional media - and they don't know too much or care - very little of what you're talking about? They perceive Bush is a Christian - Gov. Perry wants little children to pray in schools and leads them in prayer and he's a good man? Yes, I understand -- only 6 Democrats voted against the homosexual adoption bill. It was 135
Did some change their votes from yes to no? Warren Chisum's district cost taxpayers a lot over "defense of marriage" - some of his staff persons were devoted to nothing but this issue for at least 5 years. It's not fair and right that he waste resources on that deal, when the law is already there. It's a meaningless wedge vote.
Are you comfortable with 10 commandments monuments on courthouse grounds? It's been deliberate on their part to cast -- this is not about political party -- to cast people as for or against the 10 commandments -- they have a discussion on prayer, then they say you're against them?
Have you read the "What's the Matter with Kansas" book? What do you do about it? I tell people we're not afraid to acknowledge Christianity -- who knows which one is the right god! We should not be afraid of it. Our party is similar -- we go to church or not. They should not steal that argument from us. We need to be better about how we respond to that. Christians should not be ashamed, should not say our faith not anyone's business. I go to church. The biggest parts of our church are Democrats. The Roman Catholic church is an important part of our country -- We allowed the Republicans to make us look like we rubbed Catholics' noses in it on abortion. Look -- Karl Rove is an evil man. No one who's not mentally ill should divide our country like he has. In 1988 I represented some Republican renegades, Rocky Mountain Republicans, they got a venue change to my county. Pierre Dupont and Al Haig were running for president. The weather was bad, they hired college kids who went to the office, and signed 636 petitions. George Straik was deposed.
Weren't 627 people registered at the same address in Connecticut one time? LBJ's grandson is working actively with our party -- he's 38 years old, taking back Texas. His name is Lyndon Nugent. His mom hosts fundraisers. People are coming back. People thought the Republican message was great, but it's just not true. Like buying a great car and it does not run.
Rove had a messianic message -- how we could we have responded? We should have investigated it more. We got snookered. Our party was not like we ought to have been either. Stenholm is no liberal. He was beat on a false message. Charlie Stenholm forgot more about agriculture in 15 minutes than Randy Neugebauer will ever know.
Didn't Stenholm speak of Tom Delay's corrupt leadership way back? Hot-tub Tom is old news. The Frog Pond, you rent by the hour.
Cindy Stenholm has not gotten over the non-Christian label? What does Judeo-Christian mean? Redistricting created at least 4 potential statewide candidates – including Stenholm: Jim Turner, Max Standlin, Martin Frost, Chris Bell, and others. We’re engaged in recruiting. E.g., a former Navy Commander, lawyer, USLA graduate, I call him Barrack Garcia, actually his name is Juan Garcia, from Harvard Law School. He’s handsome. He’ll run for a state rep seat or better. From Corpus Christi. He’s a city councilman down there. I tried to change, make 6 new standing committees, with some resistance on the SDEC, but if you get lemons, you make lemonade, so I created ad hoc committees instead, and can appoint who I want, to have a leadership and regional training plan. I divide the state into 7 distinct areas. When I was a DPS officer, we had 6 areas and it worked well. Senatorial districts make no sense. Certainly not good for us Democrats. The Marymont Cafe in Austin has 4 congressional district in it. School board and city council are your farm club. Give them the support they need. The commissioner in Ector County had 67% vote for Bush -- Barbara Graff, called the state party, and I sent Brian Pendleton, 3 hours after she called. Hubert Vo -- within 2 hours, we chartered a plane with 5 lawyers to Houston working for free. That force completely blew them away. Heflin’s man Andy Taylor got rattled, as he was not used to playing a fair game. Dazed and confused. We made him put up or shut up, he made false statements, until he had to raise right hand and take the oath, so even a Republican master would not take Vo’s victory away.
What about Kinky Friedman? I talk to him a lot. I favor a bill to make it easier for guys like him to get on the ballot. It’s impossible now, after the primary, and by a short deadline, to get 40-50K signatures who did not vote, on your petition. Libertarians can field a candidate – that’s good. I’m supposed to be on Fox national in debate with my counterpart Tina Benkheiser, who’s not telling the truth about DeLay. One place we jointly appeared against gambling. She won’t do it.
Are you a no-holds-barred person? We tell the truth about the Republicans and a few Democrats, and that has the effect of determining some elections. We say -- run on your record. We like votes recorded. Having a reputation as an enforcer – don’t believe that. I work with the state party and the practice of law. As for boundaries, you don’t openly violate the law like DeLay and give money illegally, it ought to be criminal. We don't have enough help.
Will this story rival the Sharpestown scandal? Ronnie Earl will do what’s right. I’m not sure about DeLay’s legal guilt. He’s Morally guilty of association with Abramhoff, Ralph Reed, in concert with John Cornyn -- but now they act like they don’t know each other. It’s dishonest. Cornyn will be the next Tom DeLay. His former law partners are shocked, from their association in the old days.
Are you surprised about his speech on the senate floor about judges and people’s reactions? It was as Irresponsible a statement as he could make. That rapist in Georgia was not upset with courts and did not want them to be accountable. DeLay does not want accountability. It’s pandering, and I refuse to do it. My Abilene friend Tom Choate helped me get in law school. (Joking) I watched a bad lawyer drive away from a courthouse loss in a Mercedes, and decided to go to law school.
Dean is a positive force. The DNC was for Martin Frost. We have a new relationship with the DNC that never existed before. Terry McCauliff and I did not gee and haw well. He treated Texas as an ATM machine. Last Saturday Kerry didn't meet with the SDEC when in town. Dean will be different.
ARN: Soechting flails GOP and predicts Dem comebacks
By Jerry Daniel Reed / Reporter-News Staff Writer, April 22, 2005
State Democratic Chairman Charles Soechting flayed Republicans from the White House to the statehouse Thursday while vowing that Democrats would be much tougher competitors in Texas in the future. Soechting - pronounced Sec-ting - was in Abilene to address the Taylor County Democratic Club. He talked to the Reporter-News beforehand. He directed some of his harshest observations at U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who's been under fire for weeks for matters such as his chastising federal judges for their rulings in the Terri Schiavo controversy; and questions about funding sources of political campaigns and of trips abroad. ''Politically, he's as guilty as sin,'' said Soechting, a San Marcos lawyer. In a state where Republicans hold every statewide elective office, the majority party has fallen far short of its ethical and fiscal responsibilities, he said. ''If you compare the state of Texas to a corporation, you'd have to look at Enron,'' he said. Texas Democrats' prospects in next year's governor's race would brighten if Gov. Rick Perry again is the GOP standard-bearer rather than U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Soechting said. The state's senior senator, Hutchison is widely reported to be weighing a challenge to fellow Republican Perry. ''He is the most beatable, though it will be tough,'' Soechting said. Democrats testing the waters include former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of Houston and former State Comptroller John Sharp, who has twice lost close races for lieutenant governor. Soechting said Republicans have falsely defined Democrats as being on the wrong side of the divide on matters such as faith and the right to bear arms. He sees nothing wrong with courthouse displays of the Ten Commandments, while he endorses the right of everyone to ''pray to the God of their choice.'' Democrats should not soft-pedal their faith, he said. ''If you're a Christian don't be ashamed of it,'' said Soechting, an active Episcopalian.
Soechting - pronounced Sec-ting - was in Abilene to address the Taylor County Democratic Club. He talked to the Reporter-News beforehand.
He directed some of his harshest observations at U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who's been under fire for weeks for matters such as his chastising federal judges for their rulings in the Terri Schiavo controversy; and questions about funding sources of political campaigns and of trips abroad.
''Politically, he's as guilty as sin,'' said Soechting, a San Marcos lawyer.
In a state where Republicans hold every statewide elective office, the majority party has fallen far short of its ethical and fiscal responsibilities, he said.
''If you compare the state of Texas to a corporation, you'd have to look at Enron,'' he said.
Texas Democrats' prospects in next year's governor's race would brighten if Gov. Rick Perry again is the GOP standard-bearer rather than U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Soechting said. The state's senior senator, Hutchison is widely reported to be weighing a challenge to fellow Republican Perry.
''He is the most beatable, though it will be tough,'' Soechting said.
Democrats testing the waters include former U.S. Rep. Chris Bell of Houston and former State Comptroller John Sharp, who has twice lost close races for lieutenant governor.
Soechting said Republicans have falsely defined Democrats as being on the wrong side of the divide on matters such as faith and the right to bear arms. He sees nothing wrong with courthouse displays of the Ten Commandments, while he endorses the right of everyone to ''pray to the God of their choice.''
Democrats should not soft-pedal their faith, he said.
''If you're a Christian don't be ashamed of it,'' said Soechting, an active Episcopalian.
Don't Let Them Silence Us
I thought you might want to join me in support of Senator Ted Kennedy's stand against William Myers and the Republican leaders who are trying to seize absolute power by changing the rules of the Senate in order to silence their opposition. Join me in opposing their abusive tactics:
President Bush has nominated Myers for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- the nation's largest appellate court, and a potential stepping stone to the Supreme Court. It also has jurisdiction over vast expanses of public land and our magnificent natural resources.
Myers has spent his career trying to dismantle the protections our courts exist to preserve. He was a lobbyist for mining interests, and was later handpicked by President Bush to supposedly regulate the industry. His only experience has been manipulating laws and regulations for corporate gain, against the public interest.
Senator Kennedy and I believe that, on the merits, there is no justification whatsoever for William Myers to be confirmed. Don't let our opposition be silenced.
I join you in opposing these 10 extremist judicial nominees. The Bush Administration has joined with right-wing groups claiming our opposition is against faith and against God. This is a blatant lie.
I was a charter member of the Christian coalition and religious right and religious-liberty law defender back in 1980s, but I switched sides in 2003 based on the lies in the Iraq-invasion buildup, and continue to be a very active evangelical Christian. But I deeply resent how the power elite in the Republican Party has co-opted many sincere pew-sitters.
I am now a Democratic county chair in Taylor County, Texas (Abilene), fighting lies like this and others the Republicans are telling.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Soechting gives Republicans hell in newspaper interview
State Party Chair Charles Soechting arrives in Abilene...
Reuters: Democrats Explain Rejecting Conditional Offer on DeLay Probe
The top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives ethics committee rejected a conditional offer by Republicans on Wednesday to clear the way for another probe of Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who was admonished by the panel last year on three separate matters.
Rep. Alan Mollohan (news, bio, voting record) of West Virginia said a Republican proposal to end a stalemate over the way investigations are conducted would undermine the ability of the panel to do its job.
"It would allow complaints to be dismissed without -- in some instances, perhaps not all -- without proper contemplation," Mollohan told a news conference.blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com
Tom DeLay speaking to NRA last Saturday
London IHT: Papal historian says Benedict stands for truth, not pluralism
One thing counts, and that's the Truth
full article: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/04/20/news/edcornwell.html
new pope's email address: email@example.com
LA Times: Republicans on the House Ethics Committee offer to investigate DeLay
Democrats quickly rejected the proposal, calling it a political ploy that did nothing to restore confidence in the chamber's ability to investigate its own.
DH: Democrats stuck by their position that the Republicans' reconstituted rules for the ethics committee made the committee ineffective.
The Hill: Daily Feature says Dems are ripe to replicate what GOP did in 1994
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Maureen Dowd: authority figures
In an op-ed piece in the NYTimes today, "Smoke gets in our news," Maureen Dowd comments on the retirement of network anchors and the nature of authority figures in public life (excerpt):
So media big shots are moving away from patriarchal, authoritarian voice-of-God figures, even as the Catholic Church and politics are moving toward patriarchal, authoritarian voice-of-God figures.
The white smoke yesterday signaled that the Vatican thinks what it needs to bring it into modernity is the oldest pope since the 18th century: Joseph Ratzinger, a 78-year-old hidebound archconservative who ran the office that used to be called the Inquisition and who once belonged to Hitler Youth. For American Catholics - especially women and Democratic pro-choice Catholic pols - the cafeteria is officially closed. After all, Cardinal Ratzinger, nicknamed "God's Rottweiler" and "the Enforcer," helped deny Communion rights to John Kerry and other Catholic politicians in the 2004 election.
The only other job this pope would be qualified for is "60 Minutes" anchor.
President Bush has also long acted as if he channeled the voice of God. And now Tom DeLay and Bill Frist are also pandering to the far-right-wing and evangelical Christians by implying that God speaks - and acts - through them, too.
Mr. Bush's more subtle obeisance to the evangelical right is no longer enough. Puffed up with its electoral clout, the Christian right now wants politicians to genuflect openly.
The doctor who would be president is down on both knees. He's happy to exploit religion by giving a video speech on a telecast next Sunday that will portray Democrats who block the president's judicial nominations as being "against people of faith."
A flier for the Christian telecast, organized by the Family Research Council, shows a confused teenage boy with a Bible in one hand and a judge's gavel in the other. The text reads: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."
The born-again Tom DeLay has been fighting his ethical woes by acting like a martyr for some time. Dr. Frist, by contrast, was not known for playing the religious card before. But he is clearly willing to turn himself over, lock, stock and barrel, if it will help him marginalize such Christian-right faves as Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback, and garner support from those who always vote because they see elections in terms of eternity.
Even Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Bible-Belt Republican, seemed surprised by the brazen move by Dr. Frist, the Senate majority leader. He told Newsweek: "Questioning a senator's motives in that way is a very dangerous precedent."
And, of course, the Democrats are apoplectic. "I cannot imagine that God - with everything he has or she has to worry about - is going to take the time to debate the filibuster in heaven," Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois said.
full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/20/opinion/20dowd.html?hp
AP: Bush Signs Big Rewrite of Bankruptcy Law - effective Oct. 17, 2005
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer - 54 minutes ago
(Notes by Dave Haigler below)
- shown here with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales - signed the biggest rewrite of U.S. bankruptcy law in a quarter century on Wednesday, making it harder for debt-ridden Americans to wipe out their obligations.
"Bankruptcy should always be a last resort in our legal system," Bush said. "If someone does not pay his or her debts the rest of society ends up paying them."
Many debtors will have to work out repayment plans instead of having their obligations erased in bankruptcy court under the law, which will go into effect in six months. The 500-page legislation won final congressional approval last week after being pushed for eight years by banks and credit card companies.
The measure would require people with incomes above a certain level(1) to pay some or all of their credit-card charges, medical bills and other obligations under a court-ordered bankruptcy plan.
Bush said the new law makes the financial system fairer for debtors(2) and creditors.
"The act of Congress I sign today will protect those who legitimately need help, stop those who try to commit fraud(3) and bring greater stability and fairness to our financial system," Bush said.
Those who fought the bill's passage said the change will fall especially hard on low-income working people, single mothers, minorities and the elderly and will remove a safety net for those who have lost their jobs or face crushing medical bills.
The financial services industry argued that bankruptcy frequently is the last refuge of gamblers, impulsive shoppers, divorced or separated fathers avoiding child support, and multimillionaires who buy mansions in states with liberal homestead exemptions to shelter assets from creditors.(4)
"In recent years too many people have abused the bankruptcy laws," Bush said. "They walked away from debts even when they had the ability to repay them."
New personal bankruptcy filings edged down from 1,613,097 in the year ending June 30, 2003, to 1,599,986 in the year ending last June 30, breaking an upward trend of recent years.
Between 30,000 and 210,000 people from about 4 percent to 20 percent of those who dissolve their debts in bankruptcy each year in exchange for forfeiting some assets would be disqualified from doing so under the legislation, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.
Those people have six months until the law takes effect to escape the tougher guidelines. Bankruptcy attorneys have said they anticipate a rush to the courthouse.
Under the current system, a federal bankruptcy judge determines whether individuals must repay some or all of their debt.
Under the new law, those with insufficient assets or income could still file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which, if approved by a judge, erases debts entirely after certain assets are forfeited. Those with income above their state's median income who can pay at least $6,000 over five years $100 a month would be forced into Chapter 13, where a judge would then order a repayment plan.
Notes by DH:
(1) The bill is not tied to "income above a certain level," but rather discretionary income above a certain level, that is, money left over after living expenses are paid. The allowed range of discretionary income is between $100 & $166 per month, depending on how much credit-card debt the debtor has.
(2) The bill gives no intentional relief for debtors. It makes it harder on debtors, unless their lawyer finds the loopholes.
(3) The bill does nothing new to prevent fraud. The current system works just fine to prevent fraud.
(4) The bill does nothing new to make it harder for a debtor who incurred the debt irresponsibly to file bankruptcy. Amendments by Democrats to curb such excesses were rejected by the Republican majority in Congress. The high flyers with the huge homesteads can still file bankruptcy, just as before, only now they must come under the discretionary-income limits, just like everybody else (note 1 above).
See my piece, "Bankruptcy lawyer Haigler says bill has loopholes," at http://abi-demian.info/page4.html (April 17, 2005 issue).
Houston Chronicle reports DeLay's reactions to Justice Kennedy
He wants the House Judiciary Committee to probe the constitutional provision that says 'judges can serve as long as they serve with good behavior,' " he said. "We want to define what 'good behavior' means. And that's where you have to start."
But Justice Kennedy is unfazed, the Chronicle says:
During a routine House Appropriations Committee hearing last week to consider the Supreme Court's budget, Kennedy answered Republicans' criticism against judges by calling it "very healthy." He added that democratic dialogue makes democracy work.
ARN letter writer: Diatribes confused with facts
Dave Haigler commenting on ARN letter of 4/20/05:
Democrat-haters don't want to be confused with the facts. Sometimes I read things like today's Democrats are:
"secular, elitist and confrontational. They assault our religious liberties."
- I'm on record (ARN letters, April 16) that most of our founders were Christians, as I am, but they were purposely neutral on religion at the federal level -- this neutrality being later expanded to all government levels. Our increasingly diverse country has been well served by this legal trend. Otherwise, we could have a different denomination imposed in each state. This position is pro-religious-liberty, not an assault on it. There is nothing secular and elitist about that either.
- I read that Democrats want to "stifle all public religious expression in
, like voluntary prayers at football games, the Boy Scouts, the traditional Pledge of Allegiance, etc." America
- Where do they get this? The Supreme Court has held that student-led voluntary school graduation prayers are OK. It was lower courts, not Democrats, that had problems with football-game prayers and God in the pledge. Two-thirds of these lower court judges were appointed by Republicans, not Democrats -- so where's the beef? I'm a Scout leader and know of no Democratic opposition to Scouting.
- I read that the Democrats are "twisting the First Amendment on exhibiting the Ten Commandments at a courthouse or school." Excuse me? It was Republican William H. Pryor, President Bush's recess appointment to the 11-th Circuit Court of Appeals in
, who as Alabama Attorney General first supported -- and then prosecuted the case to remove -- then Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Atlanta had refused to remove the commandments monument in contempt of a federal court order to do so. There are legal ways to display religious monuments -- give me a break -- the U.S. Supreme Court has a 10 Commandments monument in its very courtroom! Roy Moore didn't want to do it legally; he wanted to be persecuted and be a darling to the religious right. And the religious right is not for free expression of everyone's religion. They want to return to pre-1937 constitutionalism, which would outlaw Social Security, or even pre-1800 constitutionalism, which would outlaw women voting, reinstitute slavery, and allow state-sponsored religious denominations. That's what the "Originalism" of Justice Scalia is all about, which the religious-right supports. Moore
- I read that Democrats "slime on us little people just to make themselves feel superior." Which party passed tax cuts for the rich? Which party curbs minority voting rights? Which party restricts labor unions? Which party says it's good to export jobs to
? Which party fights minimum wages and overtime pay? Which party is the real elitist? I rest my case. India
*Dave Haigler is a religious-liberty attorney and was a Christian-activist Republican for 24 years before switching to the Democrats in 2003 over the run-up to the
KRT: Florida congressman-doctor threatens to tie feeding tubes to Medicaid/Medicare
The Indialantic, Florida, Republican last month introduced H.R. 1151, the "Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act," which sought to intervene on the side of Terri Schiavo's parents in her right-to-die case that got national attention. That bill sought to give patients in a persistent vegetative state the same due-process rights as death-row inmates.
Weldon said Schiavo's case highlights a trend toward doctors withholding care for people they deem to have a low quality of life. Without a federal standard, "you're going to see more and more people who are less and less disabled" being denied care, he said.
The House Government Reform Committee had tried to intervene in the Schiavo case by issuing a subpoena for Schiavo and her husband, Michael, who carried on a legal battle for years to have her feeding tube removed. The courts consistently sided with Michael Schiavo based on evidence that his wife would not have wanted to be kept alive by artificial means. The committee declined to enforce its subpoena after the tide of public opinion turned against its action.
Weldon's proposal Tuesday raised questions from some colleagues.
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite of Crystal River, of Florida's 5th District, who split with fellow Republicans and voted against the Palm Sunday Schiavo bill, said it's not clear there's a federal role because it might usurp family decision making.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said writing an exception for patients who are dying is difficult. "How do you codify that?"
Rep. Weldon is a medical doctor who said he had withdrawn food and fluids for patients in the past when they were dying and feeding tubes would only have prolonged that process.
Except in the case of a dying patient, the doctor should assume the person wants water and food if there is no advance medical directive, Weldon proposed. That would expand the issue beyond Schiavo's case, where there was a clear dispute among family members, to families where everyone agreed the person would not want a feeding tube.
"It's clear that the Republicans learned nothing from the public's reaction to what they did in the Schiavo case," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Weston, of Florida's 20th District (pictured at right), referring to polls that showed the public overwhelmingly opposed congressional action in the case. "It's unbelievable they want to continue to insert themselves in personal family health care decisions."
Wasserman-Schultz said she will oppose Weldon's bill. Republicans, she said, have become the party of intrusive "big government" with proposals like Weldon's.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Traitors Must Reveal Sources
I believe that the political mess that surrounds this case has clouded the minds of those that believe that this is a "witch hunt" against the Bush Administration. THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT SOMEONE LEAKED THIS INFORMATION, and we know that these reporters can tell us who it was.
Now, lots of folks out there have been saying that forcing these reporters to divulge their sources will keep other sources from coming forward. GOOD, why do we want people coming forward and leaking material that may get Americans killed? Reporters have a right to refuse to name their sources when there are no national security issues involved. I would support that right anytime, anywhere. As to the argument that Valerie Plame was safe here at home when the leak was made, WHO CARES? Do you think that other countries don't have clandestine operations that can review who she has met with over the past few years? Do you think that the work she was doing was unnecessary?
What if the leak had been about a secret operative that had gotten in close to Osama Bin Laden and knew where he planned to strike next? Would it be acceptable for two journalist to erase the valuable work done by this operative just to get a news story? Would you defend their "right" to protect their source through some convoluted meaning of Free-Speech?
I don't care what political ideology you are coming from, it is anti-American to support these journalists in committing a crime against our country. I am for as much free-speech as possible, but I draw the line when that speech may end-up getting someone killed. I wish that the state could hold these traitors until they divulge their sources. Unfortunately, they are likely to face a minimal amount of jail time.
I don't care about trying to pin the leak on the Bush Administration, but I do want to know who it was, so they can face the charges of treason. The person who leaked this information is a traitor and anyone who supports the "right" to divulge information of this kind should find another country to call home.
Reuters: DC Circuit Court denies rehearing appeal of 2 reporters ordered to reveal sources in CIA agent's outing in 2003
Reich's article in American Prospect says Republican goal of inflaming religious people to support them will not work
Judges consider frivolous lawsuits a frivolous problem
| || |
Judges don't see 'frivilous' problem
By Rocky Scott, Tallahassee Democrat
About 85 percent of federal judges think "frivolous lawsuits" are, at best, a minor problem in the U.S. court system and are being adequately dealt with by existing rules, according to a Federal Judicial Center study.
|Report of a Survey of United States District Judges Experiences and Views Concerning Rule 11, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (569 K)|
|David Rauma & Thomas E. Willging|
|2005, 23 pages|
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