.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

 

Slate-Kaplan: Bush can't be for real in his statements on Iraq & N. Korea - April 30

war stories -- Military analysis.

Power Failure --
What Bush still doesn't understand about Iraq and North Korea.
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Friday, April 29, 2005, at 3:43 PM PT

Two questions prompted by President Bush's press conference Thursday night: Does he believe what he said about Iraq and North Korea, or was he just yakking? And which prospect is more disturbing?

If the president believes what he said, he doesn't comprehend the nature of either crisis. If he doesn't believe it and was just reciting the usual grab bag of clichés, what was his point? To deflect attention from an as-yet-undisclosed policy, or to obscure the lack of any policy at all?

On Iraq, a reporter at the press conference cited the recent comment by Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the insurgency is as strong today as it was a year ago and asked why we weren't doing better. President Bush replied:

I think he went on to say we're winning, if I recall. But nevertheless, there are still some in Iraq who aren't happy with democracy. They want to go back to the old days of tyranny and darkness and torture chambers and mass graves.

Does he really believe that this is the defining struggle in Iraq: the forces of democracy vs. the remnants of Saddam? Bush's own military officers and intelligence agencies have said, time and again, that the insurgency consists of several elements -- some Baathist holdouts and foreign terrorists, but also disparate Iraqis who oppose the American-led occupation and Sunni tribesmen who fear disenfranchisement and dispossession at the hands of a new Shiite-dominant regime.

The incipient Iraqi government faces multiple struggles: the insurgency, the difficulty of holding together a Cabinet almost no one is happy with, the control of Kirkuk's oil, the autonomy of Kurdish militias, the role of Islamic law, and the awesome struggle of drafting a constitution that can muster support from a two-thirds majority.

To reduce these disputes to a black-and-white formula--democracy on the one hand, tyranny on the other--is not only wrong but dangerous; it ensures that, to the extent the United States can influence the course of events, its efforts to do so will be heavy handed and misguided and therefore will fail.

On North Korea, President Bush's remarks are more worrisome because they seem to reflect a passivity--stemming from miscalculation, self-deception, or sheer cluelessness--in the administration's policy.

A reporter asked about the Defense Intelligence Agency's recent finding that North Korea probably has the ability both to build atom bombs and to load them on long-range missiles. Bush replied:

That's why I've decided the best way to deal with this diplomatically is to bring more leverage to the situation by including other countries. It used to be that it was just America dealing with North Korea. And when Kim Jong-il would make a move that would scare people, everybody would say, "America, go fix it." I felt it didn't work -- the bilateral approach didn't work. The man said he was going to do something and he didn't do it, for starters. So I felt a better approach would be to include the people in the neighborhood into a consortium to deal with him. It's better to have more than one voice sending the same message to Kim Jong-il.

It's hard to know where to begin untangling this web of non sequiturs. (For a point-by-point guide, click here.) The point to emphasize here is that the president's analysis of North Korean diplomacy, like his remark about the Iraqi insurgency, displays an odd incomprehension about the nature of power in international politics.

To the extent that the North Koreans still want to make a deal that involves forgoing their nuclear ambitions, the deal can be made only with the United States. It is the United States (not Japan, South Korea, Russia, or China--the other countries of the "six-party talks") that poses a threat to Kim's regime, in its capabilities and (especially since Bush's "axis of evil" speech) its expressed intent. And only the United States can offer the security guarantees and the economic assistance that might lure Kim to back down from his present path.

For two-and-a-half years--ever since North Korea booted the international inspectors out of its nuclear reactor, abrogated the Non-Proliferation Treaty, unlocked its fuel rods, and reprocessed them into plutonium--Kim's emissaries and America's own East Asian allies have told President Bush that the crisis won't be settled until negotiators from Washington and Pyongyang sit down and talk, one-on-one. Diplomats have floated the idea of bilateral talks within the multilateral forum; during Bush's first term, Secretary of State Colin Powell favored such talks. But, under the guidance of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Bush consistently nixed the idea.

In one sense, President Bush was right at his press conference: It is better to have several voices sending the same message to Kim Jong-il. But these voices don't matter if the one voice among them that can do something--that can turn the message into policy and action--chooses to do nothing.

Again, the question: Does Bush believe what he said? Does he think the six-party talks--which have long stalled and which the North Koreans now say they will no longer attend--can ever amount to anything without a shift in U.S. policy? In short, does he really not understand why the North Koreans want one-on-one talks? Is he really blind to the power politics of the situation--to the power that the North Koreans are trying to amass by going nuclear and to the power that they see in the United States as the one country that can provide those security guarantees?

Ultimately, as with his boilerplate on Iraq, I don't think President Bush does believe what he said. The simple matter is that he doesn't want to give the North Koreans any favors, including the favor of stature that would come from letting them sit across a bargaining table from the United States. He believes--perhaps rightly--that negotiating with North Koreans, and agreeing to give them aid, would only perpetuate Kim Jong-il's regime. But Bush's main desire is to change that regime--if not by force (which, his military advisers tell him, is too risky), then by simply letting it collapse.

But what if Kim's regime doesn't collapse, at least in the next few years? What if, in the meantime, Kim builds a dozen or so nuclear bombs and, following the DIA's frightening scenario, puts them on missiles? Does this lead to a better result--in terms of U.S. security interests--than swallowing hard, calling for a resumption of bilateral talks, and at least seeing where they go? Apparently, Bush thinks not, or perhaps he hasn't thought the dilemma through. Either way, his inaction marks another instance where he has let an abstract ideal (refusing to reward a nasty tyrant) trump a hardheaded national-security interest that, in this case, doubles as a very tangible ideal (preventing a nasty tyrant from building nukes).

Related in Slate
Fred Kaplan has written many times on the North Korean nuclear crisis. Click here for a list of columns.

Fred Kaplan writes the "War Stories" column for Slate. He can be reached at
war_stories@hotmail.com.

Source: http://www.slate.com/id/2117761/.


 

Jeff Benson: Come to DC this summer for campaign training

June 2005 Campaign Training

21st Century Democrats began training field staff and activists in 1999, in order to meet the needs of our endorsed candidates for effective organizers and volunteer leaders. Our annual D.C. campaign training is an intense, four-day experience that leaves graduates prepared to become a field director on a state legislative race or an effective paid or volunteer organizer on any campaign. The training features presentations by top campaign professionals during the day, and an ongoing campaign simulation in the evenings, in which small groups write a detailed field plan. Over 4,500 activists have completed our annual training since 1999. Our alumnae network is now a powerful force on Democratic campaigns at all levels, and many of our training graduates served in senior positions in 2004.

Take advantage of this opportunity! Click here to register for our 2005 training!

Dates, Location and Times
The training will take place June 3 – 6, 2005, on the American University campus in Washington, D.C. While times are not yet finalized, we expect to begin registration around 10:00 am on Friday, June 3 and complete all activities by 3:00 pm on Monday, June 6. The training will include evening/night activities Friday through Sunday.

Training Agenda
Our annual D.C. Campaign Training is an intense, four-day experience and requires all participants’ full time commitment each day. The training features presentations by top campaign professionals during the day, and an ongoing campaign simulation in the evenings, in which small groups write a detailed field plan. The training is designed to simulate campaign hours and intensity. Thus, training participants must be prepared for late evenings.
See sample schedule.

Who Should Attend

  • Campaign Managers
  • Field Directors
  • Field Staff
  • Candidates
  • Paid or Volunteer Organizers
  • Anyone interested in learning how to become a Field Director
  • People of all ages and levels of experience

Cost
The training fee is $250 per person. This covers three nights lodging on the American University campus, all meals during the training and all training materials. Following registration, the fee can be paid by credit card through our secure web site or by mailing a check made payable to “21st Century Democrats” to the attention of Cameo Kaisler at 1311 L Street, NW #300, Washington, D.C. 20005.

Scholarships
While we make every effort to make our training affordable for everyone interested in participating, we realize that some individuals may require financial help in order to attend. For that reason, 21st Century Democrats offers a limited number of full and partial scholarships.
Click here for more information and to apply. Please submit scholarship applications no later than May 16th. Full story: http://www.21stcenturydems.org/index.php?submenu=training&src=gendocs&link=Training%20Index&category=About%20Us.

D.H.: Thx to Jeff Benson for sending me this information from:

Tom Manatos
Office of the Democratic Leader
Advisor to the Leader
202-225-0100


 

Dave Haigler: peacemakers vs. fomenters of strife

editor Dave HaiglerWalker, Texas Ranger, rerun reminds me of Rove

Lubbock, April 30--Becky & I are in Lubbock doing grandparent duty -- a hard job, but somebody's gotta do it. Getting hugs from granddaughters 16, 6 & 3 should qualify me for combat pay; but I digress.

You know how it is when you're away from home -- you indulge yourself with things you wouldn't ordinarily do, like watch TV. Sorry, if you were thinking of something more exciting.

So I get hooked on a "Walker, Texas Ranger" rerun, right? You realize, if this was a letter to the editor, or an op-ed piece, all this introduction would have to go, but this time I am the editor, so sit back and enjoy this if you can.

The plot was simple. Walker rediscovers an old gang warlord that he once sent to prison, who now has returned to the community and set up a Christian community center in the gang neighborhood and is rehabilitating the kids through basketball and a message of Christian non-violence.

At first, shooting hoops with the oldsters is not as kewl as doing drugs and busting heads of other gang members of other races. In this scene, it's the blacks vs. the whites, with an apparent-Hispanic thrown in as the head drug pusher in the stretch limo.

But Walker (did this guy ever have a first name?) turns on the charm, and I'm not talking about the good-bye kiss to his girlfriend. A variation of the theme, "if you're not good enough to handle it," entices the first gang member into the gymn for some hoops, and the rest soon follow.

They start with "a little child shall lead them," and soon older gang members are involved. The nemesis is the team from Denton, a little burg from north of Ft. Worth.

All this basketball practice causes a downturn in the druglord's accounts receivable, and he sends in a team to remodel the community center in a negative way. But never mind, the gang kids redouble their efforts to show it was not one of their own who destroyed the gymn, and work hard to restore it.

The big game starts out with Denton taking an early and hefty lead, setting up the half-time locker-room pep talk from the ex-con coach. His secret of success was rearranging the team members' seating order so that blacks and whites are interspersed with each other instead of apart in racial cliques. Teamwork means brotherhood, was the message. As the second half swings into high gear, the gangs' team soars and scores the winning hoop as the buzzer goes off.

The gang warlord, of course, was not to be seen taking this sitting down, so he tries to foment more racial strife by pitting the gangs against each other once again. But the basketball comraderie prevails, and the guys give a nonchallant "whatever" to the warlord's appeals.

Since his war of words didn't work, the warlord kidnaps the ex-con coach, and the gang members join together for a daring rescue. The coach is about to be hanged when the rescuers arrive, just in time. They initially want to retaliate against the drug warlord and hang him instead, but the coach's message of non-violence prevails and the warlord is led off to jail instead.

Thinner and better looking, for sure, but the warlord reminded me of Karl Rove. Hopefully, his divisive tactics in our nation's politics will eventually fail as well.

-Dave Haigler, Taylor County Democratic Chair
lawyer/mediator/NASD securities arbitrator
email is Dave@Haigler.Info
webpage: www.haigler.info

 

NYTimes-Dowd: Thiefs & repressive Anti-American thugs emerging in Iraqi leadership

Swindler on a Gusher

By MAUREEN DOWD


Published: April 30, 2005

WASHINGTON

The Iraqis have thrown us another curveball.

Ahmad Chalabi - convicted embezzler in Jordan, suspected Iranian spy, double-crosser of America, purveyor of phony war-instigating intelligence - is the new acting Iraqi oil minister.

Is that why we went to war, to put the oily in charge of the oil, to set the swindler who pretended to be Spartacus atop the ultimate gusher?

Does anybody still think the path to war wasn't greased by oil?

The neocons' con man had been paid millions by the U.S. to tell the Bushies what they wanted to hear on Iraqi W.M.D. A year ago, the State Department and factions in the Pentagon turned on him after he began bashing America and using Saddam's secret files to discredit his enemies.

Right after the invasion, the charlatan was escorted into Iraq by U.S. troops and cultivated an axis of Americans, Iraqis and Iranians. He got a fancy house with layers of armed guards and pulled-down shades, and began helping himself to Iraqi assets. The U.S. occupation sicced the Iraqi police on his headquarters only after an Iraqi judge ordered thugs in the Chalabi posse arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, torture and theft.

Newsweek revealed that the U.S. suspected Mr. Chalabi of leaking secret information about American war plans for Iraq to the Iranians before the invasion, and of perhaps leaking "highly classified" information to Iran that could "get people killed" if abused by the Iranians. Mr. Chalabi claimed the Iranians set him up.

In August of last year, while he was at a cabin in the Iranian mountains, the Iraqis ordered him arrested on counterfeiting charges, which were later dropped for lack of evidence.

Now, showing survival skills that make Tom DeLay look like a piker, the resourceful Thief of Baghdad has popped back up as one of the four deputy prime ministers and the interim cabinet minister controlling the one valuable commodity in that wasteland: the second-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. He even has a DeLay-like talent for getting relatives on the payroll: a Chalabi nephew is the new finance minister.

Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told Reuters that many Iraqis would consider the plum oil job for Mr. Chalabi "putting a fox in charge of the henhouse." The choice, he added, "is going to make it extremely easy for people to make charges about corruption."

Oil isn't on the front burner only in Iraq. Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney know that time is running out to pay back the Texas buddies who sent them here with an energy bill. So those two oilmen are frantically pushing one loaded with giveaways to the oil industry at a time when it's already raking in huge profits because of high gasoline prices.

In Baghdad, we may wind up with a one-man Enron - never underestimate the snaky charmer. And the draconian efforts of Mr. Chalabi and other Shiites in power to purge Baathists from the government will breathe fire into the insurgency.

Mr. Bush wanted Iraq to have a democracy like ours. It's on its way, nearing an ethics-free zone where a corrupt official can hold sway and a theocracy can curb women's rights.

Another big winner in the new Iraqi cabinet is Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric who scurried away like a rat across the desert after he led two armed uprisings and caused a lot of American and Iraqi troops to die. His political movement got three ministries - health, transportation and civil society - and Sadr allies will try to give the scofflaw cleric legal protections so he can slink back into a leadership role.

Ayad Allawi, the Shiite who was supposed to keep the government secular and bring in Sunnis to blunt the insurgency, has been marginalized. That leaves the government to be ruled by men rooted in the sort of conservative Shiite religious politics that will not produce a new dawn of equality for Iraqi women.

The new prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, is a devout Shiite from the Dawa Party. As John Burns wrote in The Times yesterday, the Dawa Party was "fiercely anti-American during their exile years under Mr. Hussein, and Dawa was implicated by American intelligence in terrorist acts across the Middle East, including a 1983 bombing of the American Embassy in Kuwait."

The bad news: This is not an Iraqi government that will practice Athenian democracy or end the insurgency. The other bad news: If Dr. Jaafari falls, Ahmad Chalabi will be there to pick up the pieces.

E-mail: liberties@nytimes.com. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/30/opinion/30dowd.html?.



Friday, April 29, 2005

 

Newsweek: Has Bush lost his political touch?

Bush's Political Capital

Across a range of issues, the president seems to have lost his touch. Can he recover?
Bush greets Saudi Crown Price Abdullah at his ranch on TuesdayRod Aydelotte / Getty Images-Pool

Bush greets Saudi Crown Price Abdullah at his ranch on Tuesday

WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY
Chief Political Correspondent
Newsweek
Updated: 5:58 p.m. ET April 27, 2005

You've got to hand it to the PR geniuses at the White House. There's nothing like back-to-back Texas photo ops with Crown Prince Abdullah and Rep. Tom DeLay to give Americans a visceral sense that the Boss is on top of the gas-price situation and desperate to save working folks cash at the pump. Just kidding, of course.

Actually, it's hard to imagine two political events LESS likely to win the president points. George Bush held hands and pecked cheeks with Abdullah in traditional desert fashion -- but the prince gave him the back of his hand on the issue of the moment: oil supply and prices, which the Saudis essentially control. Then the president welcomed the embattled DeLay into his photo space in Galveston. That was no energy-issue coup, either. Until lobbyist Jack Abramoff came into the picture, DeLay's best-known corporate ties were to corporate titans such as Kenneth Lay of Enron in his home town of Houston.

Across a range of issues, and in a number of subtle and not-so-subtle ways, the Bush administration seems to have lost its touch. Is it losing momentum in a serious and permanent way?

Yes, Bush has been down politically before, and recovered smartly. He's a fighter, and has the ability to ignore the gloom and doom around him. Yes, the Democrats don't have much of an answer to him other than to shout "no" on a host of issues. Still, despite Republican control of virtually every lever of power in Washington -- in a way because of that very fact -- Bush finds himself playing defense. Full story: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7656009/site/newsweek/?rf=nwnewsletter.


 

CNN: DeLay debate creates rare House minority victory

By Bill Schneider
CNN Political Unit
Friday, April 29, 2005 Posted: 3:37 PM EDT (1937 GMT)

(CNN) -- This week a beleaguered minority enjoyed a rare victory in American politics -- rare enough to make it the political Play of the Week.

You might call the minority party in the House of Representatives the most oppressed minority in American politics. Unlike the Senate minority, which can bottle up legislation, the House minority has no power.

Except on the House Ethics Committee, where both parties have equal representation.

story.delay.ap.jpgIn January, Republicans changed the ethics committee's rules in an apparent move to protect beleaguered Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Democrats were outraged.

"Four months ago, when they thought no one was looking," New York Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democrat, said, "the Republican majority of this House passed a rules package that gutted the house ethics standards and effectively neutered the house ethics committee."

Democrats refused to allow the committee to organize. That put off any investigation And kept DeLay's troubles on the front pages.

On Wednesday the Republicans gave in and repealed the rules changes.

Democrats were triumphant.

Republicans tried to put a positive spin on their retreat.

"Because I believe it is damaging to this institution to allow one side of the House to shut down the Ethics Committee," Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican of Washington and the committee chairman said, "I have concluded that we must return, for now, to the rules of the past Congress."

The GOP leadership distributed "talking points," one of which said, "Rather than let the Democrat 'My way or the highway' strategy drag on, House Republicans have elected to take the high road."

Highway or high road, it was the only path to resolution of the Tom DeLay matter.

"I think there's a member," Speaker Dennis Hastert said, " especially on our side, that needs to have the process move forward so he can clear his name. Right now, we can't clear his name.''

The long-suffering minority Democrats held fast. For them it was a moment to savor.

"For those of us who have opposed these rules changes from the outset," senior committee Democrat Alan Mollohan of West Virginia said, "it has been a long, difficult effort, and it is gratifying to see it finally succeed."

It is also the political Play of the Week.

Now that the ethics committee can function again, there is some concern over an ethics war, with members of each party filing charges against members of the other party.

So last week, a lot of House members were rushing to amend their travel reports. Just in case. Source: http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/04/29/ethics/index.html.


 

ARN Letters: Dems and religious liberty, by Lauren Edwards

Lauren Edwards with Stenholm & Norman

Lauren Edwards (center) shown here with her friends Charlie Stenholm and Sharon Norman.

ARN Letters to the Editor - April 29, 2005

I do not understand why Ernest Wiatrek is so confused. He wrote on April 20 that Democrats today are ''secular, elitist, and confrontational . ... why must they assault our religious liberty?'' Democrats ''bellyache'' not against the First Amendment, but in protection of it.

Dave Haigler, whose letter prompted the attack, is a Christian and religious liberty defense lawyer. Our founding fathers knew there had to be neutrality at the federal level so all could participate in government, not just different denominations running each different state. How much more important is this today in an America represented by more faiths than Christianity? Voluntary prayer at football games is a giant step in that direction that I applaud as a Democrat. Mandatory, or teacher-led, prayer in the school crosses the line of ''free exercise.''

Democrats realize that everyone in the country is not a Christian and wishes to exercise their faith the way that is appropriate for them. I did not support Chief Justice Roy Moore, who displayed the Ten Commandments display illegally, when there was an appropriate (and legal) route he could have taken. He made himself a martyr, though, as he furthered the religious right's cause to interpret free expression in a way that excludes other beliefs.

Thank God we live in a nation where religious liberty is important and maintained by the Constitution.

Lauren Edwards
Abilene



 

CNN-AP: Putin pledges to help Palestinians

Friday, April 29, 2005 Posted: 8:35 AM EDT (1235 GMT)

The Palestinians and Moscow have a long history of political and cultural cooperation dating to the Cold war, when the Soviet Union backed Arab states and the Palestinians in their fight against the U.S.-backed Israelis.

Photo - Putin with Abbas:story.putinabbas2.ap.jpg

D.H.: It looks as though the Russian president is seeking to provide a little balance to the Bush administration's pro-Israel position.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he would give equipment and training to Palestinian security forces and he offered to help rebuild the Palestinians' crumbling infrastructure in Gaza, which Israel is withdrawing from this summer.

Putin met for about two hours with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on the third day of his historic visit to the region. The two leaders focused on the Middle East peace process and aid from the Russians to the Palestinians.

Putin was greeted Friday morning at the Palestinian headquarters here, known as the muqata, by an honor guard of Palestinian security forces. A military band played a halting version of Russia's national anthem and the Palestinian anthem as Putin and Abbas stood side by side.

Security officers then placed a wreath, with a banner reading "from the president of the Russian Federation," before the tomb of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Putin approached, bowed his head, stood silently at attention for a few seconds, bowed again and walked away. Full story: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/04/29/meast.putin.ap/index.html.


 

Fla. Sun-Sentinel: On church, state and federal judges

The Rev. Bob Uhlar
Hollywood
Posted April 28 2005

I am disappointed that some conservative elements of our country continue to attack the "separation of church and state" in a quest to get a few federal judges approved by the Senate. These elements claim that we are removing God from our country.

There is a major difference between the separation of God and state and the separation of church and state.

The separation of God and state is impossible (God is omnipresent). The separation of church and state is imperative to the United States of America. The "church" is any human religious institution (and its zealots) that would seek to impose its beliefs on others.

Our Founding Fathers added the Bill of Rights because religious zealots were already establishing local theocracies (believe what we believe, move or die). That sounds good -- provided you are the ones in power. The American colonies were formed by people escaping religious oppression and persecution.

On Sunday morning, a group of political zealots held a teleconference in churches across the country to convince the gullible that having fair and impartial judges is detrimental to God and to America. They seek to convince the gullible to fulfill their political agenda and change the parliamentary procedures of the U.S. Senate.

This is not the first time in our history that "the misguided" have sought to gut our Constitution. I prefer to think that our Founding Fathers knew what they were doing.  Source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/letters/sfl-brmail839apr28,0,4929362.story?coll=sfla-news-letters.


 

Sojourners-Jim Wallis: An attempt to hijack Christianity

by Jim Wallis

Last week, I wrote about the "Justice Sunday" event held at a Louisville, Kentucky, mega-church. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Prison Fellowship's Chuck Colson, and Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler were joined by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on video in the event titled "Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith." Of course, I have no objection to Christian leaders expressing their faith in the public arena - it's a good thing that I do all the time. The question is not whether to do so, but how. As I heard more and more about "Justice Sunday," it felt to me like it was crossing an important line - saying that a political issue was a test of faith.

So, when I was invited to speak at an interfaith "Freedom and Faith" service at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, I agreed. On Sunday morning, I flew to Louisville, and that afternoon addressed more than 1,000 people who attended the rally. I didn't go to say that these leaders shouldn't bring their faith into politics; the issues concerning them - abortion and family values - are also important to me. But the way they were doing it was wrong. The clear implication of their message was that those who opposed them are not people of faith.

We can get some historical perspective by looking at how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did it - and he was the church leader who did it best. Once after he was arrested, he wrote a very famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," addressed to the white clergy who were opposing him on the issues of racial segregation and violence against black people. Never once did he say that they were not people of faith. He appealed to their faith, challenged their faith, asked them to go deeper with their faith, but he never said they were not real Christians. If Dr. King refused to attack the integrity and faith of his opponents over such a clear gospel issue, how can the Religious Right do it over presidential nominees and a Senate procedural issue known as the filibuster?

After the "Justice Sunday" event, and the controversy surrounding it, some of the sponsors are denying they ever claimed that those who oppose them are hostile to people of faith. Yet their words stand for themselves. In the letter announcing the event on the Family Research Council Web site, Tony Perkins wrote: "Many of these nominees to the all-important appellate court level are being blocked...because they are people of faith and moral convictions.... We must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith."

So, I told the Louisville rally that when someone has stolen our faith in the public arena, it is time to take our faith back. "Justice Sunday" was an attempt to hijack Christianity for a partisan and ideological agenda. Those on the Religious Right are declaring a religious war to give their version of faith religious supremacy in America. And some members of the Republican Party seem ready almost to declare a Christian theocracy in America. It is time to take back both our faith and our Constitution.

It is now clear there are some who will fight this religious war by any means necessary. So we will fight, but not the way they do. We must never lie or misrepresent the facts or the truth. We must not demonize or vilify those who are our opponents. We must claim that those who disagree with our judgments are still real people of faith. We must not fight the way they do, but fight we must. A great deal is at stake in this battle for the heart and soul of faith in America and for the nation's future itself. We will not allow faith to be put into the service of one political agenda.

This is a call for the rest of the churches to wake up. This is a call for people of faith everywhere to stand up and let their faith be heard. This is not a call to be just concerned, or just a little worried, or even just alarmed. This is a call for clear speech and courageous action. This is a call to take back our faith, and in the words of the prophet Micah, "to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God."

Watch streaming video of Jim's message at the "Freedom and Faith" service:

RealPlayer

Windows Media Player



Read more about "Justice Sunday" and Sojourners' efforts to offer an alternative view. Some sites may require registration.

Frist seeks Christian support to stop filibusters
+ The New York Times

Religion, politics intersect in 'Justice Sunday'
+ Lexington Herald-Leader

Christians square off over battle for judiciary
+ Chicago Tribune

Battle over benches spills across pews
+ Los Angeles Times

Religious conservatives speak out against Democrats' use of filibuster
+ The Kansas City Star

Foes attack event as intolerant
+ The Courier-Journal (Louisville)

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WashPost's Dionne: Bush the Egghead - theoretical, not practical


Practicality Never Stops a Nice Theory

By E. J. Dionne Jr. -- Friday, April 29, 2005; Page A23

President Bush's critics have him all wrong. They think of him as an anti-intellectual, opposed to theory and disdainful of grand ideas.

To the contrary. George W. Bush's spring of discontent arises from a fact that no one dares to notice: George W. Bush is an egghead.

I doubt this is a thought that comes to most people at the end of a Bush news conference. Indeed, to praise or criticize Bush for eggheadism risks disdain from left and right.

Many liberals have long worn the "egghead" epithet as a badge of honorable intellectualism. They would never want to share it with Bush. Older liberals still treasure the late Adlai Stevenson, the original egghead and the failed Democratic presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956. Stevenson was probably less of an intellectual than people thought, but the image stuck.

The notion of Bush as an egghead no doubt appalls conservatives, too. People on the right have long savored attacking their opponents as "pointy-headed intellectuals" -- the late George Wallace's phrase was widely popular. Spiro T. Agnew, Richard Nixon's vice president, had perfect right-wing pitch when he assailed his boss's opponents as an "effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals." That dismissive phrase -- "who characterize themselves as intellectuals" -- was nothing short of brilliant.

But with apologies to both sides, the case for Bush as an egghead is overwhelming. One of the central characteristics of the Bush presidency is a profound commitment to theoretical notions, nurtured in think tanks and ideological magazines, and a relentless -- yes, even principled -- commitment to pushing them regardless of the facts or the consequences.

The president's proposal for private accounts in Social Security is Exhibit A for eggheadism. There was little popular demand for these accounts. Most Americans like Social Security as it is. The private accounts idea was nurtured primarily in libertarian and conservative research organizations such as the Cato Institute, the National Center for Policy Analysis and the Heritage Foundation. Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/04/28/AR2005042801568.html.

D.H.: Dionne goes on to say the private accounts idea is pushed despite no real-world market for it, and the Iraq war advanced over the egghead idea of democratizing the Middle East, not really WMD. And the theory that tax cuts lead to economic growth, which leads to cutting deficits -- never mind the latest tax cuts actually have given us the largest deficits in history.

blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com



Thursday, April 28, 2005

 

Bush press conference: Bush repudiates FRC/religious-right claim that judge nominees are opposed on their faith

April 28 -- President Bush said tonight that his current judicial nominees are being opposed because of their conservative judicial philosophy, not their faith.  The question and his answer on this are as follows:
 
Q: Mr. President, recently the head of the Family Research Council said that judicial filibusters are an attack against people of faith. And I wonder whether you believe that, in fact, that is what is nominating Democrats who oppose your judicial choices. And I wonder what you think, generally, about the role that faith is playing, how it's being used in our political debates right now.

BUSH: I think people are opposing my nominees because they don't like the judicial philosophy of the people I've nominated. And some would like to see judges legislate from the bench. That's not my view of the proper role of a judge.

Speaking about judges, I certainly hope my nominees get an up-or- down vote on the floor of the Senate.

They deserve an up-or-down vote.

I think, for the sake of fairness, these good people I've nominated should get a vote. And I'm hoping that will be the case as time goes on.

Role of religion in our society? I view religion as a personal matter. I think a person ought to be judged on how he or she lives his life or lives her life.

And that's how I've tried to live my life: through example.

Faith plays an important part in my life individually. But I don't ascribe a person's opposing my nominations to an issue of faith.

Q: Do you think that's an inappropriate statement? And what I ask is ...

BUSH: No, I just don't agree with it.

Q: You don't agree with it?

BUSH: No. I think people oppose my nominees because of judicial philosophy.

Q: Sir, I asked you about what you think of ...

BUSH: No, I know what you asked me.

Q: ... the way faith is being used in our political debates, not just in society generally.

BUSH: Well, I can only speak to myself. And I am mindful that people in political office should [not] say to somebody, You're not equally American if you don't happen to agree with my view of religion.

As I said, I think faith is a personal issue. And I take great strength from my faith. But I don't condemn somebody in the political process because they may not agree with me on religion.

The great thing about America is that you should be allowed to worship any way you want. And if you chose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship. And if you choose to worship, you're equally American if you're a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim.

And that's the wonderful thing about our country and that's the way it should be.

Full transcript: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/04/28/AR2005042801893_5.html.

blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


 

People of America -- Press Conference 4

Bush said he talked to "the people of America" during the last 60 days and they backed him on Social security.

This is a big lie.....he talked to vetted audiences of Republicans.

-Terry Barhorst

P.S.: Oh yeah, he read the answers to some questions.

 

press conference 3

He demanded an "up or down vote" on judges.

He admitted gas prices were from oil price.

He backed away from Dobson.....

Terry

 

Press conference 2

Bush went around a question about "no child left behind" law suits.

He said, T bills are a good investment for the private accounts. Earlier he said that for social security T bills were worth nothing.

He said there is nothing he can do about gas prices.

Terry

 

The press conference

I'm still watching Bush's press conference, but I had to write this.
Bush just stated that "Christians, Jews, and Moslems have freedom to
worship as they wish." I guess the rest of us don't count.

He essentially said the just announced record amount of deaths from terrorism overseas was because we are aggressively winning the war on terror.

He said it didn't matter what the polls said, he was going with hsi "plan" for social security.

Terry

 

Bush’s press conference

I’m still watching Bush’s press conference, but I had to write this. When asked about Dobson one of Bush's statements was that “Christians, Jews, and Moslems should the have freedom to worship as they wish.” I guess the rest of us don’t count.

When asked about the just announced amount of deaths in the "war on terror" he said we're fighting it overseas and being aggressive..... What the hell does that mean?

-Terry Barhorst

 

One-sided concerns, by Mark Thorne

  1. Regarding the 13 year old Florida girl who wants an abortion: How can she know she will not be plagued by post-abortion syndrome the rest of her life? Who is standing for the rights of her unborn child?
  2. Regarding the Alabama bill about school libraries: What's wrong with being concerned about the quality of materials our children read. We do not allow full constitutional rights to minors. We want them to be healthy, not be exposed to everything the world has to offer before they're old and mature enough to handle it.
  3. Regarding the harping about Tom DeLay: It's so hypocritical. I bet most of the House members fudge a little on their ethical reporting. We all know lobbyists pay for things. What's the big deal? It's because he's a conservative, that's why. If you Democrats had not shut down the Ethics Committee in January, Mr. DeLay could have cleared his good name by now. Good grief -- the man cannot even smoke a cigar in Israel without someone making a big deal about it. Next we'll hear he farts when he goes to the bathroom. Give the man a break!
  4. Regarding terrorism reporting: I think President Bush is doing a good job fighting terror, and should be given a little slack on all these supposed rights for terrorists.
  5. Regarding John Bolton: I think we need a kick-ass and take-names kind of guy at the U.N. We pay too great a percentage of the bills there anyway, for all the good it does us. They never support us when the chips are down. It's nothing but an endless debating society anyway. And who knows who all had their hands in the till on the oil-for-food scandal. How many kickbacks did Kofi's son have to pay to get his deal?

- J. Mark Thorne


 

WashPost: DeLay Is Likely to Be Found Culpable

Analysis

Experts Weigh Potential Defense

By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 28, 2005; Page A06

Now that it's clear that his controversial private-paid trips abroad will be put under a microscope in Congress, Tom DeLay is in serious danger of being declared in violation of House ethics rules, legal experts say.  Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/04/27/AR2005042702053.html.

D.H.: The experts interviewed speculated that DeLay's best defense might be that he did not know about the illegal acts the lobbyists were doing.  But the focus is expected to be what he knew, or should have known.  Also, the very process of inquiry is expected to be harmful to DeLay. 


 

CBS: Alabama Bill Targets Gay Authors, Subjects


MONTGOMERY, Ala., April 27, 2005--A college production tells the story of Matthew Sheppard, a student beaten to death because he was gay.

And soon, it could be banned in Alabama.

Republican Alabama lawmaker Gerald Allen says homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle. As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, under his bill, public school libraries could no longer buy new copies of plays or books by gay authors, or about gay characters.

"I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen, pictured here.

"I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children."

Books by any gay author would have to go: Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal. Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple" has lesbian characters.

Allen originally wanted to ban even some Shakespeare. After criticism, he narrowed his bill to exempt the classics, although he still can't define what a classic is. Also exempted now are Alabama's public and college libraries. Full story: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/04/26/eveningnews/main691106.shtml.

D.H.: Maybe Allen can't define "classic" because he's never read one. It never ceases to amaze me how some lawmakers will pass such silly laws with no consideration to the fact that they are totally unenforceable and patently unconstitutional. Are we going to have a state registry of "gay authors?" Who knows who's a gay author? But the good old boys back home will think this guy is really standing up for God and country. They may not have a job anymore, because outsourcing to India is good for America, the Bushies say, and the minimum wage may never go up again, but, "by God, we're gonna stop that 'gay agenda,'" whatever that is. Actually -- may God help us!


 

Time Mag.: Anti-Castro Majority Leader Tom DeLay enjoys a fine Cuban cigar

Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2005 - by Karen Tumulty

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes, according to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a cigar is an economic prop to a brutal totalitarian regime. Arguing against loosening sanctions against Cuba last year, DeLay warned that Fidel Castro "will take the money. Every dime that finds its way into Cuba first finds its way into Fidel Castro's blood-thirsty hands.... American consumers will get their fine cigars and their cheap sugar, but at the cost of our national honor."

DeLay has long been one of Congress' most vocal critics of what he calls Castro's "thugocracy," which is why some sharp-eyed TIME readers were surprised last week to see a photo of the Majority Leader smoking one of Cuba's best, a Hoyo de Monterrey double corona, which generally costs about $25 when purchased overseas and is not available in this country. The cigar's label clearly states that it was made in "Habana." The photo was taken in Jerusalem on July 28, 2003, during a meeting between DeLay and the Republican Jewish Coalition at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Full story: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1054968,00.html?cnn=yes#busted.


 

Miami Herald: State agency temporarily blocks abortion for girl in foster care

Girl, 13, fighting DCF bid to block abortion



The state and child advocates face off in court over the case of a 13-year-old foster child who wants to end her pregnancy.

BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER

cmarbin@herald.com

West Palm Beath, April 28 -- The plight of a 13-year-old Palm Beach County foster child, who is pregnant and wants an abortion, is pitting children's advocates against Florida's child welfare agency, which has custody of the girl and has asked a judge to forbid her from ending her 13-week pregnancy.  Full story: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/11508044.htm.

D.H.: DCF, the Department of Children & Families, is the same Florida agency that sought to intervene in the Schiavo case.  It is relying on a state statute that prevents it from consenting to an abortion, sterilization or termination of life support for anyone in its care.  Agencies representing the girl say she does not need DCF's consent for an abortion.  The judge ordered a psychological evaluation to see if she is competent to make that decision and recommend what is in her best interest. 


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AP-Yahoo: Witness in Marine Case Taken Off Stand for Violating Gag Order

By WILLIAM L. HOLMES, Associated Press Writer - 1 minute ago

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - A key witness against a Marine officer accused of murdering two Iraqi civilians abruptly left the stand after he was accused of giving interviews about the case when he was ordered not to.

Marine Sgt. Daniel Coburn was testifying Wednesday against 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano when the investigating officer, Maj. Mark E. Winn, told him he was suspected of violating orders from superior officers.

Before leaving the courtroom, Coburn was read his rights and requested a lawyer.

Defense lawyers had complained Coburn had given interviews to ABC News, the New York Daily News and New York magazine even after being ordered not to do so.

Full story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050428/ap_on_re_us/marine_iraq_death;_ylt=AlA2duHWSRHGwaKaJ09uOVms0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2M2YzbmJmBHNlYwN1cw--

D.H.: Lt. Pantano, a 33 year old Wall Street trader who re-entered the Marines after 9/11, is accused of murdering the two Iraqis when a superior officer ordered him to let the men go after no weapons were found in their car.  The witness against him was quoted in a New York magazine story as saying Pantano was a "thespian-type person."  But a Navy corpsman defended Pantano as a strong, safe leader.  Another witness said insurgent weapons were found at the house the two murdered men had been seen leaving. 

blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


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Bloomberg: State Dept - statistics of 370% rise in terroristic attacks from 2003 to 2004 - just better record keeping

U.S. State Dept Report Says More Terrorist Groups Are Seeking Deadliest Weapons

April 28 (Bloomberg) -- An increasing number of terrorist groups are Riceseeking weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. State Department said yesterday in a report on global terrorism.

"Although al-Qaeda remains the primary concern regarding possible WMD threats, the number of groups expressing interest in such material is increasing, and WMD technology and know-how is proliferating in the jihadist community," the report said.

The annual report included an overview of terrorist attacks worldwide in 2004. The report found that although there were military campaigns against insurgents and terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, improvements in homeland security and deepening counterterrorism cooperation worldwide, "international terrorism continued to pose a significant threat to the United States and its partners in 2004."

Among the new challenges, according to the report, are efforts by al-Qaeda leaders to inspire "new groups of Sunni Muslim extremists to undertake violent acts in the name of jihad."

On the same day the State Department released its "Country Reports on Terrorism 2004" compilation, the National Counterterrorism Center made public figures on the number of victims and attacks last year.

Last year there were 651 significant international terrorist attacks worldwide, resulting in 1,907 killed and 6,704 wounded. That compares to 175 incidents in 2003. [651 is a 370% increase over 175.]

Better Accounting

Officials attributed the growth in the number of incidents to an increased number of civilians targeted in Iraq, as well as better accounting. Ten full-time analysts this year compiled data on incidents as opposed to three part-time staffers the previous year. The number of terrorist incidents in Iraq logged in 2004 was tenfold that of 2003, increasing from 22 to 201.

"This increased level of effort allowed a much deeper review of far more information and, along with Iraq, are the primary reasons for the significant growth in the number of terrorist incidents being reported," said John Brennan, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center. The center was created in December to serve as the main data base of information on terrorism for the U.S. government.

He said the 2003 and 2004 figures could not be compared in "any meaningful way." [370% increase not significant.]

More Attacks

Last year the State Department erroneously claimed that 2003 had the "lowest annual total of international terrorist attacks since 1969." The number of attacks had actually risen, and the State Department was forced to release a corrected version.

Brennan said a review of past accounting also "highlighted methodological shortcomings," and said new comprehensive figures would be released in June.

Among the problems, he said, was that to be counted under the congressional definition of international terrorism, the incident must involve citizens of more than one country.

Officials cited the example of the twin bombings by Chechen suicide bombers of Russian jets last August. One flight is included in the total number of incidents because an Israeli was among the dead, while the rest of the victims were Russian citizens. The other flight was not counted because all on board were Russian.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janine Zacharia in Washington at  jzacharia@bloomberg.net.
 Last Updated: April 28, 2005 00:08 EDT 
Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=aMtjmN_1T6ZI&refer=top_world_news

blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

 

NYTimes: Maureen Dowd, tongue in cheek, supports Bolton

U.N. leash Woolly Bully Bolton
By MAUREEN DOWD Published: April 27, 2005


Why are they picking on poor John Bolton? Everyone knows the man is perfect for the United Nations job.

For one thing, his raging-bull temperament is ideally suited to an organization steeped in global pettifoggers and oil-for-food pilferers. Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/27/opinion/27dowd.html?hp

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UK Sky News: Tony Blair's A/G had reservations about Iraq war without UN authorization

BRITISH A/G'S IRAQ ADVICE PAPER LEAKED
The issue of Iraq has been thrust back into the [UK] general election spotlight with the publication of part of the Attorney General's secret advice on the legality of war.

The document shows that [A/G] Lord Goldsmith told [Tony Blair,] the Prime Minister just days before the invasion in March 2003 that he could not be confident that a court would regard military action in Iraq as lawful.

He told Tony Blair that "the safest legal course" would be to secure a further resolution from the United Nations Security Council explicitly authorising war - something Britain tried, but failed, to do. Full story: http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30100-13337034,00.html.

D.H. note: Lord Goldsmith and the Labour Party government maintain his position has been consistent all along, and that he felt the war was legal. Opposing parties are claiming inconsistencies between what Goldsmith said publicly and privately.



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Buzzflash: The Problems with "Nuclear Triggers" Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown -- "conservative judicial activism"

D.H. note: The links given here show detailed examples of judicial activism by these right-wing judicial nominees. Yet, the right wing says they want to get rid of "judicial activists." The unavoidable conclusion is that the right wing just wants the right side to win court cases, regardless of the principles involved.

BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT

News from People for the American Way:

Given signs that Senate Majority Leader Frist may use expected filibusters against appeals court nominees Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown as an excuse to trigger the "nuclear option" -- and given the increasing efforts by right-wing activists to portray their records in a flattering light -- PFAW has prepared one-pagers highlighting some of the reasons that Owen and Rogers should not be confirmed to lifetime positions on the federal appeals courts.

The Owen one-pager is here (PDF), the Brown one-pager is here (PDF), and reports on both nominees can be found here.

In addition, People For the American Way has developed a chart -- based on Congressional Research Service data -- listing judicial and executive branch nominees filibustered prior to the current administration. This information is important because Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the Radical Right continue to falsely assert that there were no filibusters of presidential nominations before the current Bush administration. In fact, there were at least 34. Nearly three-quarters of the total were staged by Republicans in the Senate. You can view the chart here (PDF).

Josh Glasstetter
People For the American Way

BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT



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Christianity Today: "Justice Sunday" leaves opponents hopping mad

The magazine "Christianity Today's" online edition collected these stories in reaction to "Justice Sunday:"

D.H.: Thanks to my wife Becky for bringing this story to my attention.


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Boston Globe: A mistaken ID bill

CONGRESS IS in danger of passing legislation that could damage immigration policy under the false pretense of enhancing national security. The Senate should block this ill-conceived proposal and take a more measured look at immigration reform.

House Republican James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin says his bill, the Real ID Act, will keep terrorists from crossing US borders. In a January column he writes: ''The goal of the Real ID Act is straightforward: it seeks to prevent another 9/11-type attack by disrupting terrorist travel."

But the rhetoric promises more protection than the bill delivers.

A key feature of the bill is the denial of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. But most of the illegal immigrants who get licenses in the nine states that grant them are trying to earn a living, not commit terrorist acts. The real challenge is figuring out how to manage undocumented drivers. Mass deportation is unlikely because many of these drivers are essential to America's economy. They are vital in various industries, including the business of getting food into grocery stores.

Sensenbrenner's bill would compel states to add security features to all driver's licenses and create a license database that other states could access. This would essentially create a national ID card, an idea that should be thoroughly debated on its own, not slipped through a back door.

If it passes, the Real ID Act could cause delays in motor vehicle registry offices as states scramble to meet the new requirements. Residents of states that fail to comply could find that their licenses are useless as IDs at airports, grounding people unless they have passports to use as identification.

The Real ID Act would also demand more proof from asylum seekers. Government officials could ask for ''corroborating evidence." This is overkill. Many victims of torture and abuse are unlikely to be able to provide such evidence, especially if they come from countries where law enforcement officials are blind to, or complicit in, abuses.

Sensenbrenner calls for more barriers and surveillance technology along the southern US border. Illegal immigration should be discouraged. But this bill ignores the real need for laws that let immigrant workers travel safely and legally between the United States and Mexico.

Sensenbrenner introduced the Real ID Act in January. Last month the House attached the act to an emergency spending bill for Iraq and other needs, forcing the Senate to consider it.

House and Senate conferees are meeting now to reconcile their versions of the spending bill. They should leave the Real ID Act on the cutting room floor. It offers false security instead of intelligent reform.  Source: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2005/04/27/a_mistaken_id_bill/.

D.H.: Thanks to John Pettit for alerting me to this story.  He heard about it on the Tom Harken show. 


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Bloomberg: House Republicans Ready to Reverse Ethics Rules (Update2)

April 27 (Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert said he is prepared to "step back" from ethics rules changes to end a deadlock that shut down the chamber's ethics committee and blocked a probe of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, who chairs the House Republican Conference, said Hastert pressed lawmakers at a meeting this morning to support a reversal of the ethics rules passed in January. Hastert later told reporters that he would send a letter to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi with an offer to end the impasse.

"I'm willing to step back," Hastert said. Republicans "need to move forward. We need to put this behind us."

Hastert and other Republicans said an end to the dispute would pave the way for an ethics probe into allegations against DeLay, who was admonished three times by the panel last year for ethics violations and has one charge pending related to possible fundraising abuses in Texas.

Recent newspaper reports have detailed DeLay's overseas trips and ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the subject of federal probes of his activities on behalf of Indian tribes.

"There is a member, especially on our side, who needs to have the process move forward so he can clear his name," Hastert said.

Hastert's shift is a victory for Democrats, who have said the ethics rules changes, pushed through the House over their objections in January, are designed to protect DeLay. Republicans say they restored fairness to the ethics process. 

Story last updated 11:49 CDT, April 27, 2005.  Full story: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=aN.GLLndXDcs&refer=top_world_news

This story was first blogged here at 5:42 CDT this morning: http://demlog.blogspot.com/2005/04/washpost-gop-to-reverse-ethics-rule.html


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Email circuit: Who's on First-2nd Generation

This may have been around before, but I enjoyed it, so I'm sending it.

WHO'S ON FIRST FOR THE NEXT GENERATION

(It helps if you remember Abbott and Costello)

George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?

Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.

George: Great. Lay it on me.

Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.

George: Yes, that's what I want to know.

Condi: That's what I'm telling you.

George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes.

George: I mean the fellow's name.

Condi: Hu.

George: The guy in China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The new leader of China.

Condi: Hu.

George: The main man in China!

Con di: Hu is leading China.

George: Now whaddya' asking me for?

Condi: I'm telling you, Hu is leading China.

George: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China?

Condi: That's the man's name.

George: That's who's name?

Condi: Yes.

George: Will you, or will you not, tell me the name of the new leader of China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he's dead in the Middle East.

Condi: That's correct.

George: Then who is in China?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir is in China?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Then who is?

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Yassir?

Condi: No, sir.

George: Look Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.

Condi: Kofi?

George: No, thanks.

Condi: You want Kofi?

George: No.

Condi: You don't want Kofi?

George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N.

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi?

George: Milk! Will you please make the call?

Condi: And call who?

George: Who is the guy at the U.N?

Condi: Hu is the guy in China.

George: Will you stay out of China!!!

Condi: Yes, sir.

George: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.

Condi: Kofi.

George: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone!!!


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Kansas City Star: Long-winded lawmakers nothing new



The Orange County Register


(KRT) - If the Republican Senate leadership think they have it bad contending with Democrats filibustering a group of President George W. Bush's judicial nominees, they should have tried running the Senate in the early years.

The filibuster dates back to at least the early 1800s, when it was first used as a tactic to prevent action on a bill. Basically, to filibuster, a lawmaker gets recognized to speak and then stays on his or her feet and keeps talking, refusing to yield until the bill he or she opposes is withdrawn.

The filibuster wasn't always just used by the Senate. Historians say House members also used the filibuster to prevent a bill being voted on in that chamber. But as the country and therefore the House got bigger, the rules of the House were changed to eliminate the possibility that any one member could gum up the works.

The Senate though, kept its rule. But it's one that has changed over the years. Now, senators don't really have to test their ability to speak for hours on end. Just a threat of a filibuster is often enough. If the leadership can't muster the 60 votes to stop the filibuster, that's all that's needed to block a vote on a piece of legislation or administration nominee.

Filibuster

The term comes from the early 19th century Spanish and Portuguese pirates, "filibusteros", who held ships hostage for ransom. Webster's Dictionary: "The use of extreme dilatory tactics in an attempt to delay or prevent action, especially in a legislative assembly."

Evolution of the filibuster

1841: First threat to the filibuster rule. The Democratic minority hoped to block a bank bill promoted by Sen. Henry Clay. Clay threatened to change Senate rules to allow the majority to close debate. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton angrily accused Clay of trying to stifle the Senate's right to unlimited debate.

1917: At the behest of President Woodrow Wilson, the Senate adopted a rule (Rule 22) that allowed the Senate to end a debate with a two-thirds majority vote - by 67 senators, now - a tactic known as "cloture." Wilson was furious that a group of senators opposed to World War I were blocking a vote on arming merchant ships.

1975: The Senate reduced the number of votes required to bust a filibuster from a two-thirds (67) majority to a three-fifths majority (60), the same as it is today.

2005: Senate GOP leaders are threatening to change filibuster rules for judicial nominees only. Want a simple majority (51) to be able to force vote on a judge or justice. They say the rule change wouldn't apply to filibusters on legislation.

Notable filibusters

1919: The first time the new cloture rule was tested. The Senate mustered the 65 votes needed to end debate and force a vote on the Treaty of Versailles.

1935: Colorful Louisiana Sen. Huey Long spoke for 15 hours, 30 minutes, losing his effort to keep a provision in a National Recovery Administration bill when the call of nature forced him to leave the floor. Long read and analyzed the constitution and provided his colleagues with recipes for fried oysters and potlickers.

1957: South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond set a record that still stands. He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in an attempt to block the Civil Rights Act.

1968: Members of both parties blocked President Lyndon Johnson's nomination to elevate Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas to chief of the court. An attempt to invoke cloture failed and Johnson withdrew the nomination.

2003: Democrats block nomination of lawyer Miguel Estrada who eventually withdraws his name. Minority senators have blocked 10 Bush nominees with filibuster threats.  Full story: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/politics/11501246.htm.


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WashPost: GOP to Reverse Ethics Rule That Blocked New DeLay Probe

January Change Led Democrats to Shut Down Panel

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 27, 2005; Page A01

House Republican leaders, acknowledging that ethics disputes are taking a heavy toll on the party's image, decided yesterday to rescind a controversial rule change that led to the three-month shutdown of the ethics committee, according to officials who participated in the talks.

D.H.: The January rule said if the committee was deadlocked, any complaint would be House Majority Leader Tom DeLay gets a lift from President Bush in Texas.automatically dismissed after 45 days. Rolling back this rule would force the committee to consider a complaint even if the committee is deadlocked, and the committee contains an equal number of 5 members from each party, allowing it to be easily deadlocked. Rolling back the January rule would allow the committee to proceed to consider new ethics allegations against Majority Leader Tom DeLay, shown here with the president, that he accepted illegal payments by a lobbyist for a trip to the UK in 2000.

Full story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/04/26/AR2005042601295.html?referrer=email

blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com



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NYTimes: Senate Panel Is Widening Its Review on Nominee to U.N.

Picture of John R. BoltonBy DOUGLAS JEHL

Published: April 27, 2005

WASHINGTON, April 26 - In a widening of the inquiry into John R. Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee intends to conduct formal interviews in the next 10 days with as many as two dozen people, Congressional officials said Tuesday. Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/27/politics/27bolton.html?th&emc=th.

blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com



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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

 

Progressive: Ivins, "The Whim of a Hat"

Ivins Column Photo

Hey, the sun is shining, the bluebonnets are out, our big music festival, South by Southwest, rocked, and the puppy wants to play. You expect me to write about Terri Schiavo, Iraq, and Paul ("There is no history of ethnic strife in Iraq") Wolfowitz?

Instead, let us celebrate spring with a roundup of the President's verbal gaffes, boners, grammatical errors, and immortal contributions to logic. Remember, this is a contest between George Bush père and George Bush fils, with the old man still well ahead at this point, though I think you will agree, after reading the latest, that our boy is gaining on him.

These are, as always, taken straight from life and from W.'s mouth.

First of all, there's the ongoing situation in Iraq, where, as he put it, "it is a time of sorrow and sadness when we lose a loss of life." Our enemies in Iraq are very resourceful, he adds. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people and neither do we," says the Prez.

Don't worry, the President understands the financial implications of Iraq. He said, "I want to remind you all that in order to fight and win the war, it requires an expenditure of money that is commiserate with keeping a promise to our troops."

Then there was Bush's spluttering in the first debate: "In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's incredibly hard."

If ever there was a man who understood hard work, it is our President. He was fully prepared for it by his time as governor of Texas. His former chief of staff, Clay Johnson, stated that in those days, Bush's workweek consisted of "two hard half-days" broken only by his two-hour midday break. We can tell that Bush still misses being governor because he said: "One of the most meaningful things that's happened to me since I've been the President, governor--the governor--President. Oops. Ex-governor."

On general strategery, the President said, "The best way to find these terrorists who hide in holes is to get people coming forward to describe the location of the holes, is to give clues and data." And he uttered these profound words of wisdom: "Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."

He added, curiously, "Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."

Bush is not into process. "Oftentimes, we live in a processed world--you know, people focus on the process and not the results."

His focus on results led to this doozie on slavery: "It's very interesting when you think about it, the slaves who left there to go to America, because their steadfast and their religion and their belief in freedom helped change America."

Last year was a period of high stress for George W., who once again had to struggle with the education issue, observing that the "illiteracy level of our children are appalling."

President Bush also informed us during the campaign that God speaks through him. This disappointed many who thought the Almighty knew how to pronounce the word "nuclear."

Bush himself has noted, "I'm also not very analytical. You know, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things." But still, he is capable of deep self-awareness, as when he observed, "I am the master of low expectations."

End of recap. You must admit "kill at the whim of a hat" is almost worth the price of admission. Just try to remember, folks, this is historic times.



Molly Ivins, co-author of "Bushwhacked," writes in this space every month.
http://www.progressive.org/may05/ivin0505.html


blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


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