Saturday, May 07, 2005


PBP: Diocese employee pressures Catholic Florida judge who permitted an abortion, judge reacts angrily, already left over molestation coverups - May 7

Palm Beach Post
Diocese employee says judge in abortion case should be denied communion
By Kathleen Chapman, Staff Writer
Friday, May 06, 2005

WEST PALM BEACH — An employee of the Diocese of Palm Beach said Thursday that Palm Beach County Juvenile Court Judge Ronald Alvarez, a Catholic, should be denied communion for allowing a 13-year-old foster child to have an abortion.

Don Kazimir, who works for the diocese's Respect Life Office, which opposes abortion and the death penalty, called Alvarez's office Wednesday to ask which church the judge attends. Kazimir said he wanted to speak with Alvarez's priest, who he said might have a problem with a Catholic judge agreeing to an abortion.

Alvarez was angry about the call. It is wrong, he said, for the church to try to intimidate a judge into putting his faith above the law.

"This isn't a religious state yet," he said.

Kazimir was disappointed by Alvarez's decision in the case of L.G., the 13-year-old who became pregnant after running away while under state care. Although officials from the Florida Department of Children and Families objected to an abortion, Alvarez ruled this week that the girl had a right to choose.

L.G. subsequently ended her pregnancy.

The original message relayed to Alvarez by his assistant said Kazimir was investigating the issue for the diocese. But Kazimir said Thursday he was speaking only for himself and did not talk to supervisors before calling the judge.

Bishop Gerald Barbarito said Thursday night he did not know about the phone call but would look into what happened. The bishop has never said he would deny communion to anyone, diocese spokesman Jim Brosemer said.

Alvarez said he thought Kazimir's call set a dangerous precedent. He said it was unfair for any judge who takes an oath to uphold the laws of a state or the country to feel pressured to follow the doctrine of his church, synagogue or mosque.

Kazimir said he had to speak up for the unborn child. The church teaches that what Alvarez did is wrong, he said.

"He materially cooperated in an abortion," Kazimir said. "He became part of it, and that is... very much against church teaching."

In an emergency hearing on April 26, DCF asked Alvarez to stop L.G.'s abortion, saying Florida law prevented the agency from consenting to the procedure. Alvarez ordered a psychological evaluation of the girl and listened to testimony about whether the abortion could cause her physical or emotional harm.

He decided Monday that the girl could go ahead with the abortion. The state quickly appealed Alvarez's ruling but withdrew its challenges Tuesday after an order by Gov. Jeb Bush.

Alvarez said during Monday's hearing that the case posed a difficult moral question. On one hand, he had a 13-year-old girl who did not want to be forced to deliver a child. On the other, he was asked to end the life of a 14-week-old fetus.

But legally, he said, the case was easy to decide. L.G. was mentally competent, knew that pregnancy could be riskier than abortion and had the right to choose, Alvarez said at the hearing.

Alvarez has been a Catholic for five decades. He attended parochial school for eight years and more recently attended special annual Masses to bless the judiciary.

In the mid-'90s, he was assigned to a civil case alleging sexual abuse in the diocese. The plaintiff asked Alvarez to recuse himself because he was Catholic, and Alvarez agreed.

But though he once attended a local parish, Alvarez said he has not attended church for about three years. He said he could no longer be a part of an organization that covered up abuse by priests and quietly transferred child molesters to new churches.

"That really bothered me," he said.

His mission in juvenile court, he said, is to protect children who have been abused. "And I just couldn't reconcile that," he said.

Alvarez still considers himself a Catholic but said it wasn't right for the church to call him on his decision.

Palm Beach Post full story.

D.H.: The rest of this story deals with Roman Catholic teaching on allowing members of their church to serve in government positions and follow the law rather than church teaching, although it does repeat news during the prior election that some U.S. bishops felt John Kerry should not be allowed to take communion because he was pro choice.


Salt Lake Tribune: Reid comes to Utah, blasts Hatch, tries to reassure Utah Dems - May 7

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid
By Rebecca Walsh -
The Salt Lake Tribune

In the battle raging over President Bush's judicial nominees, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is ratcheting up the rhetoric, stopping just short of calling Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch a hypocrite. Reid, D. Nevada, is shown here talking to Utah Democrats at their annual Jefferson/Jackson dinner at the Salt Lake City downtown Marriott Hotel.

Instead, the Nevada Democrat said of Utah's Hatch Friday, "He's been a terribly big disappointment to me."

In Salt Lake City to speak to Utah Democrats the night before their annual convention today, Reid let loose his frustration with his Republican colleagues - particularly Hatch, former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where many Democratic judges were stalled or blocked. Reid takes issue with conservative senators who claim Democrats are obstructing the judicial nominating process.

Reid called Utah's other Senator, Bob Bennett, "totally rational" in their discussions of the issue, but said Hatch is another matter. Hatch claims the minority party has created a crisis in the courts by refusing to vote on the president's nominees.

"I can't imagine how Orrin Hatch can keep a straight face," Reid told The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board. "I don't know how, within the framework of intellectual honesty, he can say the things he does."

The U.S. Senate is locked nose to nose over the issue. Republican leaders have threatened a "nuclear option," changing Senate rules to allow a simple majority vote to end a filibuster and confirm a judge. Democrats have countered with threats to bring Senate business to an impasse.

Reid says Hatch is "disingenuous" in his recollections of history, pointing out that Democrats have approved 207 of the president's judicial candidates and rejected just 10.

He calls five judges Democrats have blocked - including Texas Supreme Court Justice Patricia Owen and California Supreme Court Associate Justice Janice Rogers Brown - the "worst of the worst." Reid notes that under Hatch, 69 of former President Clinton's judicial nominations "never saw the light of day" because Utah's senior senator stopped them from proceeding to the Senate floor for a vote. Republicans delayed approval of Richard Paez, a Brigham Young University graduate. In 1999, Hatch refused to sign off on any nominees until Clinton nominated Republican Ted Stewart, former Gov. Mike Leavitt's chief of staff.

Even before Hatch was in charge of nominations, Reid said, senators used the filibuster or other procedural technicalities to block approval of judges or stop adoption of controversial legislation. The practice dates to 1881, Reid said. In 1968, Republican senators filibustered President Johnson's nomination of Abe Fortas as chief justice of the United States.

"What they did was much worse," Reid said.

Source: sltrib.com/utah.


AP-Yahoo: Bush - U.S. Had Hand in European Divisions - May 7

What Should Be the Focus of Talks Between Bush, AbdullahAP - 54 minutes ago

Bush picture courtesy of latvianews.com.

RIGA, Latvia - Second-guessing Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Bush said Saturday the United States played a role in Europe's painful division after World War II -- a decision that helped cause "one of the greatest wrongs of history" when the Soviet Union imposed its harsh rule across Central and Eastern Europe.

Full story: AP-Yahoo News.


Marjorie Wood: Constitution in Exile? - May 7

Letter to the Editor:

Have you ever heard of the phrase "constitution in exile"? Neither had I til today. Apparently there are a lot of people in the USA today who believe that our country has not been being run according to the Constitution and that since 1937, the Constitution has been in exile. Bush likes Janice Rodgers Brown, nominee for the D.C. Court of Appeals because she believes our country became a "socialist" country when we started living under the New Deal. She wants us to go back to pre-1937 and have no minimum wage, no 40 hour work week, no regulations such as the Clean Air or Clean Water Act. Can you imagine life that way? I didn't think so. I can't either.

If the "nuclear option" eliminates the filibuster, probably Janice Rodgers Brown will be nominated for the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals, usually one step from the Supreme Court. Please please take your citizenship seriously and work to keep the filibuster, and to keep judges who prefer life as it was before 1937 out of the courts.

Marjorie N. Wood
2303 Comburg Castle Way
Austin, TX 78748
512 291 8457

D.H.: Ms. Wood is not just "whistling Dixie." This theory floats around under different names, such as "originalist," which is the view of current U.S. Supreme Court Justice "Nino" Scalia, of Louisiana duck-hunting fame with the vice president.

Some of these fringe people call themselves "constitutionalists," and "strict constructionists," such as the people involved in Eagle Forum's Court Watch program, but by whatever term, they all want to roll back history, some to pre-1800 times when women couldn't vote and slavery was legal. See my articles "Conservative Strict Constructionism will Backfire," and "Constitutionalism or Chaos," found at:
http://haigler.info/page12.html, items 2 & 3.

You can also do websearches on "court curbing legislation" to get into this arena of new-old-think. This movement's main trick, which they have succeeded in doing several times now, is pass bills that include provisions that the federal courts have no jurisdiction to interpret the bills being passed. One such bill said that the Secretary of Homeland Security could set up barriers near borders and declare any state or federal law inoperative within the barrier zone. And no court can entertain a suit over that bill, the bill says. Cute trick, I think. Why doesn't Congress just pass a law abolishing all the courts? That's what the process called "tort reform" has been doing incrementally. Why not just do it totally?

When people realize what is going on with these fringe types, there will hopefully be a massive backlash against them.

Dave Haigler,
constitutional, religious-liberty, bankruptcy & securities-law attorney
Abilene, Texas


Slate: Today's Papers - "Office Pace" job growth - May 7

By Jay Dixit
Posted Saturday, May 7, 2005, at 1:30 AM PT

Everyone leads with the news that the pace of job creation surged last month, overshadowing previous signs that the economy had hit a soft spot. The unexpectedly high number of new jobs suggests that businesses are optimistic enough about the economy to expand their payrolls.

After weeks of bleak news, including March drops in hiring, retail spending, and consumer confidence, the government reported 274,000 new jobs in April. Implication: "the economy may not be as weak as many previously expected." Unemployment, meanwhile, held steady at 5.2 percent. The New York Times emphasizes that income also rose: Hourly wages are up slightly, while employees are working more, pushing average weekly pay up by 3.3 percent in the last year. The Treasury Secretary credits Bush with the robust growth. But despite the good numbers, the overall economic picture is still uncertain, and it remains to be seen whether oil prices will level off.

To continue reading, click here.

Jay Dixit is a writer in New York. He has written for the New York Times and Rolling Stone.

Friday, May 06, 2005


CBS: 60 Minutes to air Putin blasting Bush and his trying to export "democracy" May 8

Putin Blasts U.S. On 'Democracy'

(CBS) On the eve of a meeting with President Bush in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin lashes out at the American president, raising questions about his election in 2000 and his decision to go to war in Iraq.

In an exclusive interview to be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Putin tells Correspondent Mike Wallace that he (Wallace) should question his own country's democratic ways before looking for problems with Russia's.

The Russian president also says the United States shouldn't try to export its democracy, as it is trying to do in Iraq. Excerpts from the interview, conducted earlier this week in Russia, will be featured tonight on CBS Evening News.

Mr. Bush and Putin are scheduled to meet over dinner before Monday's ceremonies in Moscow marking the 60th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany.

Administration aides have been downplaying expectations for this session, saying the two leaders are meeting for just an hour Sunday night at Putin's dacha, followed by a social dinner with their wives.

On Monday, heads of state or high-level officials from some 50 countries, including the France, Germany, Japan and China, are expected to come to Moscow for the ceremonies, which will include a military parade on Red Square and a reception in the Kremlin.

Wallace gets quite a reaction from Putin by asking him about a recent change the Russian leader made.

Says Wallace, "There was a time when the regional governors were elected, correct? And all of the sudden, Putin says, 'No, no, no. I shall appoint the governors.' That's democracy? That's not democracy the way I understand it."

"The principle of appointing regional leaders is not a sign of a lack of democracy," Putin retorts. "You're absolutely wrong. For instance, India is called the largest world democracy. But their governors have always been appointed by the central government and nobody disputes that India is not a democracy."

The Russian leader then points to what he believes are drawbacks to America's own brand of democracy, including the Electoral College system.

"In the United States, you first elect the electors and then they vote for the presidential candidates. In Russia, the president is elected through the direct vote of the whole population. That might be even more democratic," says Putin.

"And you have other problems in your elections," he tells Wallace. "Four years ago, your presidential election was decided by the court. The judicial system was brought into it. But we're not going to poke our noses into your democratic system because that's up to the American people."

Putin also believes the U.S. democratic system does not travel well and that is precisely why he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

"Democracy cannot be exported to some other place," says the Russian president. "[Democracy] must be a product of internal domestic development in a society."

But pulling out of Iraq is not an option, says Putin. "But if the U.S. were to leave and abandon Iraq without establishing the grounds for a united and sovereign country, that would definitely be a second mistake."

The full interview airs Sunday, May 8, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

CBS full story.


Slate-today's blogs: Religious Right, Center Stage - May 6

By David Wallace-Wells
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005, at 2:38 PM PT

Roused by a flurry of op-eds, bloggers assess the role of religion in mainstream politics. They also respond to yesterday's British elections and to one production company's plan to release new movies to theaters, DVD, and television simultaneously.

Religious right takes center stage: In yesterday's Washington Post, estimable conservative George Will lamented the "persecution complex" of American Christians, and particularly its use by conservative politicians, a day after John McCandlish Phillips complained, in the same pages, that major newspapers have been routinely overstating the religious zealotry of conservatives. Also yesterday, the Wall Street Journal hosted a head-to-head debate over the religious right between critical Christopher Hitchens (a Slate contributor) and supportive James Taranto.

At libertarian The QandO Blog, Dale Franks thinks the secularist fuss is mere alarmism. "Repeat after me," he advises. "There is no theocracy in America." Paul Mirengoff of conservative syndicate Power Line agrees, suggesting it's the liberals who are behaving like reactionaries. "Our secular society traditionally has permitted, and been willing to consider, arguments founded on nearly all belief systems," he writes. "However, in the aftermath of the 2004 election, our elites are concerned that the values of Christian fundamentalists are doing too well in our market place of ideas."

"Verdict: Taranto by TKO," declares Paragraph Farmer Patrick O'Hannigan. At Mossback Culture, socially liberal and fiscally conservative Richard Bennett gives a predictably even-handed reading of the debate. "It's hard to argue," he writes, with Taranto's logic "that the courts have imposed specific policies on the country, such as legalizing abortion, that are actually the province of the legislative branch." He applauds the responsible conservative movement to seek recourse electing like-minded representatives, but pleads, "No more mixing religion and politics, please. Voting your moral values is fine, but following the literal text of the Bible is delusional."

"It doesn't speak well for the Democratic party that this sort of thoughtful, civil discussion is happening wholly within a conservative-leaning publication," says New York City "covert Republican" SomeJoe. "That's healthy intellectual discourse, and there are too few liberals and Democrats participating." Some, however, see ideological close-mindedness on both sides of the aisle. At BuzzMachine, critic Jeff Jarvis thinks even the sympathetic Will is being reductive and overly schematic. "Will doesn't pull back quite far enough," he writes, "for he contrasts only the religious fringe with the godless and leaves out the vast religious majority inbetween." At Home of the mandinmories, Gambian network analyst Ousman Ceesay calls Will's column a "reasonable reminder to the wingnuts."

Read more about George Will's column; John McCandlish Phillips' column; and the Opinion Journal showdown between Hitchens and Taranto.

Source: http://slate.msn.com/id/2118265/.

D.H.: The article continues with blogging on Tony Blair's squeaker re-election and movies.


Barhorst: I didn't know Kansas was on the other side of the looking glass--the Red Queen is going to be pissed.

I enjoy satire, for sometimes it is the most straight forward way to confront hypocrisy. What I am going to write here is satire. It is a satiric mirror on what they’re doing in the Kansas evolution debate. Though my satire could be judged a bit far-fetched, it contains enough truth and paths of legality to actually be practical in the conception.

* Let’s go to court and ask for a ruling on the usages of the theories propounded by “People of Faith,” especially on their claims of physical and historical reality for the entities “God” and/or “Jesus.”

* Since faith is by definition, “belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence,” the “People of Faith” should have to step forward and confront the same set of rules as those who accept Darwinian evolution. Have those people, or the “People of Faith” representatives, choose to present factual physical evidence and witnesses.

* These “People of faith” representatives must either prove by their evidence that these mythical characters do exist in law and contemporary reality. They must do this scientifically and/or via legal affidavit following all constitutional laws or be found contemptible.

* If they can’t make the grade of provable fact, there must be a wholly judgmental parameter and dogma placed into the laws. All books containing information on those called “God” and “Jesus” not found to be factual, but instead, rather theoretical, must have stamped on each page with the words, in red ink, that “This book contains nothing but an old theory.” All views personally, organizationally, or politically expressed on the aforesaid must be preceded by a statement that the words are only theory and not fact.

The above is a mirror on what they’re doing in Kansas -- and just as stupid.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator of Lone_Star_Democrats@yahoogroups.com

Click on the latest Abi-Demian, Democratic Party News -- Abi-Demian


Newsweek: Bawdy First Lady

The first lady has President Bush (left) and White House Correspondents’ Association President Ron Hutcheson in stitches.

Former White House jokemeister Mark Katz says Washington humor puts a crack in otherwise hardened opinions.
WEB EXCLUSIVE - By Karen Breslau
Updated: 2:47 p.m. ET May 5, 2005

Who would have known? First Lady Laura Bush would have made a school librarian blush with her bawdy speech at last weekend's White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Shortly after President Bush began his address--at which tradition dictates that the president make fun of himself and the reporters who cover him--Mrs. Bush staged a mock takeover of the microphone in front of 3,000 unsuspecting guests. After sending the president back to his chair, the First Lady regaled the audience with tales of her visit to a male strip club with Lynne Cheney and Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Connor--and the time her husband tried to "milk a male horse." (You can read a full transcript here.)

The speech, written by former Reagan wordsmith Landon Parvin, was a bold gesture by an administration not always known for self-deprecation--or for its warm relationship with the media. While Parvin declined to speak publicly about his White House clients, he is widely regarded as a master of presidential comedy writing. And positive reviews of Laura Bush's remarks could well improve the president's sagging approval ratings--as funny speeches have done historically for presidents in need of a boost. NEWSWEEK's Karen Breslau spoke with former Clinton White House joke writer Mark Katz, author of "Clinton and Me" (Miramax Books) and resident scholar of the Sound Bite Institute, about the tricky art of presidential humor. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: If anyone other than Laura Bush had given this speech, would it have been so funny?
Mark Katz: Public people have an advantage. The range of things they can joke about is much smaller, but their sweet spot is sweeter. Laura Bush can get a bigger laugh telling the same joke that Jay Leno can. I thought she went pretty far by calling herself a "Desperate Housewife."

This is where she complained that "Every night by 9 o'clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep and I'm watching 'Desperate Housewives' with Lynne Cheney"?
Right. Just by associating herself with something that risque, she was reaching out to a broader demographic than she normally does. I doubt that Phyllis Schlafly was laughing hardest at that joke. And that joke about George Bush milking a male horse was reaching out to gay Americans.

You think?
I'm joking. [Laughs.] Well, actually, when I read it, it did occur to me that maybe it was. But maybe not.

Presidents are always expected to be very reverential when talking about their wives. What's the political purpose of having a First Lady make fun of her husband?
The basic fact is that she is better liked than her husband, especially right now. Theirs seems to be an Ozzie and Harriet-type relationship, and she was taking advantage of that. She is almost like your ambassador to him. The jokes about him are ones the ones that take the sting away.

CONTINUED: Humor Is an Underutilized Voice in Politics

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7750051/site/newsweek/?rf=nwnewsletter


David Collins: What's still the matter with Kansas? - May 6

In his 2004 book, What's the matter with Kansas?, Thomas Frank explores how right wing activists have divided working folks against their own interests through the use of "wedge issues". Often boiled down in the public press during the campaign as "God, guns and gays", Frank demonstrates how the right has used these emotional issues to distract the public from the economic harm being done them by those same Republican politicians who campaign on these issues.
Reading the online version of the New York Times on Friday, May 6 two headlines, a few inches apart, jumped off the screen. The first read ""Credit Rating of GM and Ford Lowered to Junk"  (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/06/automobiles/06auto.html). That article discusses how the nation's remaining two automakers are now in such financial difficulty that lenders are advised to proceed with great caution. The implications for the working men and women at these two companies, and all those companies that supply parts for their cars, are dire indeed.
The second headline reports that "In Kansas, Darwinism Goes On Trial Once More"  (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/06/education/06evolution.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1115402508-ywJ1Q1Of579YtIWkiIiesQ). This article details how, after being ousted following a 1999 effort to remove the teaching of Evolutionary Theory, conservatives are back in a majority on the Kansas State Board of Education. With a slightly different tactic, the Board members are seeking to require that this explanation for the origin of species be explicitly challenged in the classrooms of Kansas.
Also on Friday, the government reported that, for only the 4th time in as many years, more jobs were created than is necessary to "break even". It is estimated that the US economy must create between 150,000 and 225,000 jobs each month in order to stay even with the growth in the size of the labor market. Of course, this means that for more that 44 months, the country experienced a net loss of jobs.
No more stark representation of what Democrats must do has jumped off the pages of the nation's newspapers in a single day. As a campaign staff member told a much younger Bill Clinton; "it's the economy, stupid". Still is. As Democrats, from Democratic National Chairman Gov. Dean to Texas Democratic Chairman Soechting to you and I, the effort must be clear, focused and unequivocal: the people running the US government and that of Texas and many other states is doing great harmed to the working folks of this country. They must be stopped.
Yes, matters of faith and conviction have an important place in the national debate. But first and foremost is the economic triple whammy that has been cast upon the middle class of this country to the direct and clear benefit of a very small number of very wealthy people and the corporations they control. A rapidly declining number of good jobs, crushing personal and public debit and ever rising health care costs are crippling this generation of working families and threaten even greater harm to the next generations.
As the Party of the people it is our job, our duty to make these facts clear to all of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. If not us, then there is no one else who will tell that truth.
Dave Collins
Johnson City, TX


WLOS: Religion and politics clash over a local church's declaration that Democrats are not welcome

From the website of WLOS TV in Western N.C.:


Religion and Politics Clash

East Waynesville Baptist asked nine members to leave. Now 40 more have left the church in protest. Former members say Pastor Chan Chandler gave them the ultimatum, saying if they didn't support George Bush, they should resign or repent. The minister declined an interview with News 13. But he did say "the actions were not politically motivated." There are questions about whether the bi-laws were followed when the members were thrown out.

(posted to WLOS website at 7:30am, 5/6/05)

Streaming video of this story on WLOS:



Democrats: Reminder of public service project tomorrow, Saturday

This just in from Roger & Alice Spier

A reminder about our project tomorrow:

Adopt-a-Highway :  MAY 7th 10:am

               -707 just North of Rt 20 in Tye

               -meet at Truck Stop  just north of hwy

               -Will be food & beverages

look for the Haigler Rialta RV at the north truck stop 
(there are 2 truck stops)


Dave Haigler
phone: 325 677-4343


NYTimes: Feeling Heat, DeLay Speaks of Humility; Pelosi, Dean squawk - May 6

Published: May 6, 2005

WASHINGTON, May 5 - Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, whose travel and ties to lobbyists have been under scrutiny, delivered a talk on the importance of humility on Thursday at the annual National Day of Prayer service, telling worshipers that God makes all things possible - "even greatness from lowly sinners like you and me - especially me."

In his 10-minute talk, Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader, spoke out against pride and praised the virtues of "a humble heart." He asked the audience to pray for him and other members of Congress "because the only way we can serve well is to serve humbly, as servants both to God and our nation."

Mr. DeLay has been the subject of questions about his political fund-raising, overseas travel and ties to lobbyists, as well as his recent tough stance against the federal judiciary after the Terri Schiavo case. The House ethics committee is likely to investigate.

On Thursday, however, Democrats said that important positions on the committee's staff must first be filled. Earlier this year, Republicans on the panel said they would not rehire the chief counsel and another lawyer who oversaw cases that resulted in three admonishments last year against Mr. DeLay.

"One of the investigative counsel was fired, another left, and the third was reassigned to another position," said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader. "So they do not have investigative staff. So they can't have a case."

Republicans and Democrats on the evenly split 10-member panel have said that they would like to fill the positions quickly, but that finding experienced lawyers could take time.

Also at issue is whether Republicans who have financial ties to the majority leader should participate in ethics deliberations involving him. Two of the five Republicans on the panel said Wednesday that they would not deliberate in cases involving Mr. DeLay because they had contributed to his legal defense fund.

On Thursday, Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called on the other Republicans to step aside because they had received contributions from Mr. DeLay's political committees. The Republicans have said the money would not influence them; some Democrats have agreed that receiving money from a House leader should not be disqualifying.

But Dr. Dean argued otherwise. "The foxes should not be guarding the hen house," he said.

At the prayer service, on Capitol Hill, Mr. DeLay made no mention of the ethics questions. He spoke broadly, at one point alluding to Genesis in saying that Adam "ultimately failed by his pride" in the Garden of Eden.

"Think of what we could accomplish if we checked our pride at the door," Mr. DeLay said, adding, "If we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees."

Mr. DeLay received a standing ovation for his talk. Asked afterward why he chose the topic, he replied, "Humility is something I work on every day."

NYTimes source: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/06/politics/06ethics.html.


Bart cartoon: Texas cheerleaders of the future

This cartoon

courtesy of


views at






DFA sponsors this billboard in Galveston & other areas of DeLay's district


CNN: Bush leaves for tricky Europe trip - May 6


Worker shown in this photo adjusts a welcome poster ahead of Bush's historic visit to the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Friday, May 6, 2005 - Posted: 7:46 AM EDT (1146 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush faces tricky diplomatic terrain during a whirlwind European tour that takes him from a solemn remembrance at an American veterans cemetery in the Netherlands to a boisterous World War II victory celebration in Moscow's Red Square.

It's the rare presidential foreign trip with a single theme: democracy's onward march, past and present. Full CNN story: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe


NYTimes: U.S. Cites Signs of Korean Preparations for Nuclear Test - May 6

Korea map showing suspected test site Kilju


White House and Pentagon officials are closely monitoring a recent stream of satellite photographs of North Korea that appear to show rapid, extensive preparations for a nuclear weapons test, including the construction of a reviewing stand, presumably for dignitaries, according to American and foreign officials who have been briefed on the imagery.

North Korea has never tested a nuclear weapon.

Bush administration officials, when asked Thursday about the burst of activity at a suspected test site at Kilju, shown here in the northeastern part of the country, cautioned that satellites could not divine the intentions of Kim Jong Il, North Korea's leader, and said it was possible that he was putting on a show for American spy satellites.

They said the North Koreans might be trying to put pressure on President Bush to offer a improved package of economic and diplomatic incentives to the desperately poor country in exchange for curtailing its nuclear activities.

"The North Koreans have learned how to use irrationality as a bargaining tool," a senior American official said Thursday evening. "We can't tell what they are doing."

Nonetheless, American officials have been sufficiently alarmed that they have extensively briefed their Japanese and South Korean allies and warned them to be prepared for the political implications of a test.

On Thursday morning, Mr. Bush spoke at length about North Korea with President Hu Jintao of China, who has been his main interlocutor to Mr. Kim's government.

The White House refused to say whether the two men had discussed the new evidence, focusing instead on what officials said was Mr. Bush's determination to get North Korea back to the negotiating table in six-nation talks.

Full NYTimes story: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/06/international/asia/06korea.html?th&emc=th.


Slate: Today's papers - UK's Blair squeaks by with 37% of the vote in Thursday's election - May 6

Labour PainsLabor Party leader Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, walk to the polling station in the village of Trimdon, Sedgefield, Thursday to cast their votes.

By Eric Umansky
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005, at 12:45 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Washington Post all lead with the desultory win by Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor party. (Blair is shown here with his wife Cheri, walking to the polls Thursday in Trimdon, Sedgefield.) Though it's a historic third-straight win for the party, Labour only won 37 percent of the vote, which the Post calls the "lowest share of the national vote of any ruling party in British history." Citing "American and foreign officials," the New York Times leads with satellite evidence of "rapid and extensive preparations" by North Korea for a nuke test. USA Today leads with the administration finally tossing out a Clinton-era rule that had protected about a third of national forest land from logging and road-building. The White House had temporarily suspended the Clinton rules soon after taking office; yesterday's move puts the stake in them. The new rules aren't a free-for-all, exactly. State governors can petition to keep forests protected; final decisions will be up to the feds.

Exit polls show Labour's parliamentary majority shrinking to about 70 seats, down from 161. The consensus on the island now seems to that Blair won't serve out his full term and will hand over the reins to his heir apparent, Gordon Brown, chancellor of the exchequer (aka the money man). "This is the end of the Blair era," one prof told the NYT. Full story: http://www.slate.com/id/2118210/.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Reuters: Bush demotes Army general in Abu Ghraib scandal - May 5

Thu May 5, 2005 08:08 PM ET
By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A one-star Army Reserve general became the first high-level military officer punished in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal on Thursday when President Bush demoted her to the rank of colonel.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski was disciplined after Army leaders deemed her job performance "seriously lacking" and accused her of concealing a past shoplifting arrest.

The Army said in a statement Karpinski had been reduced in rank to colonel, although an investigation by the Army inspector general's office "determined that no action or lack of action on her part contributed specifically to the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib."

Karpinski said last year she was being used as a "convenient scapegoat" for detainee abuse that was the fault of others.

Reuters full story.


ARN: Abilene holds two National Day of Prayer events - May 5

Thursday at noon Abilene had two groups sponsoring National Day of Prayer events: The Pray Big Country group, an exclusively Christian group, and The Interfaith Council, representing 10 major faith groups. Pray Big Country, which has sponsored events on this special day in the past at City Hall, decided to hold its event at Everman Park after The Interfaith Council objected to Mayor Norm Archibald that any group meeting at City Hall should be more inclusive.

The Pray Big Country service featured a variety of local ministers, music and celebration, all with a mainline Christian theme. The service carried the theme of ''God Shed His Grace On Thee,'' in keeping with the Day of Prayer coordinated by Shirley Dobson, wife of evangelist and commentator James Dobson of Focus on the Family.

The Interfaith Council ceremony featured one person from each of the major faiths represented in the organization. The council's board is made up of representatives from each of the three main branches of Christianity (Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican) and six other faiths (Judaism, Islam, Baha'i Faith, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Unitarian). The majority of the council's membership comes from those faiths.

The changes in Thursday's schedule comes after two members of the Interfaith Council - Sandy Perry, the group's leader, and Dr. Ron Smith of Hardin-Simmons University - expressed their concerns to Mayor Archibald after learning that the Day of Prayer ceremony being planned by Pray Big Country was to be exclusively Christian in nature.

''We had a very good discussion about the importance of having any ceremony at City Hall for the National Day of Prayer being open to people of all faiths as is called for in Presidential and Texas proclamations,'' Perry said.

She said the group told Archibald and City Attorney Sharon Hicks that while it was ''not interested in being confrontational, we feel the city is best served in such an event when it encourages participation from all of its citizens - and not limiting it to one faith group.''

Perry said the group wanted any National Day of Prayer event held at City Hall to be open to participation by people of all faiths on an equal footing.

''We did not want a 'separate but equal' event,'' she said.

When the mayor told Perry that Pray Big Country had decided to move its observance to a different location, she then asked him if the AIC might be permitted to coordinate an interfaith event open to all at Abilene's City Hall, Thomas said.

Archibald then granted the group permission to do so.

The organizer for Pray Big Country was Pastor Jimmy Pruitt of Morning Star Community Church. ''The Lord's work gets done in either case,'' he said. Pruitt said the Pray Big Country gathering didn't intentionally exclude those of other faiths.

Instead, Pruitt, who organized last year's Day of Prayer event as well, said he was mostly just following precedent for the event - including a proclamation read by city officials - set years ago and would have been willing to work with the Interfaith Council had he been contacted sooner.

''When they contacted us, they asked for nine people to have the opportunity to pray,'' he said. ''The problem is, the prayer portion of the program is only 40 minutes long.''

Had the two groups managed to talk earlier, it is possible that a representative from the Interfaith Council could have been worked into the program, Pruitt said.

''But when they contacted us, the program had already been set,'' he said. ''This is supposed to be a positive thing. We didn't just say we were going to do it a certain way and intentionally not include anyone.''

Thomas, a founder of the Interfaith Council, said Perry explained to Pruitt that the council is made up of diverse faith traditions and no single person could offer a representative prayer.

ARN full story.


Terry Barhorst : The morality of the Right Wing Christian's agenda

Have the Protestant Evangelical Churches failed so badly at educating their flocks of parents and children that they now wish to turn that classic duty over to the Public Schools and the Government? I know they have slowly been sliding into a money and property mode rather than a pastoral mode for many years. I did not know they would hand their flocks to the politicians and televangelists.

Perhaps it began when both parents were required to work in order to retain a reasonably comfortable standard of living. Perhaps it was exacerbated by the advent of cable television as the baby sitter and nurturer between the end of school and the arrival home of parents fatigued by their work day—at least the parents have a slight excuse that the children’s failed concept of morality. The churches have no excuse at all.

Aren’t the Protestant Evangelical Churches aware that any law they force politicians to pass will in some way be circumvented. A law is no replacement for a truly moral base in ethics and morality taught by wise and learned adults on a day of rest.

As an example, why do the Protestant Evangelical Churches push freedom of thought out of the way to force public school teachers to teach creationism? Is it ego? It must be sheer ego. They expound with stentorian volume on the "day" that their concept of God created the animals and mankind like it is a single twenty four hour period, for isn’t that the length of these egoists 24 hour “day.”

A creator of universes may create and refine for billions years. There is no proof otherwise. Perhaps we have not even come to the afternoon of this Creator’s day of creating and refining. Perhaps Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed were all part of the refinement of a creation that started out a primitive animal, and, these named are only those noted by the “People of the Book.” All through the world there have been those who strived to forward the refinement of the still animal like, vicious, and greedy traits apparently inherent in the, now termed human, creation. To name other refiners that have come down to us from history and the rest of the world, there is Buddha and Ptahhotep, along with many others. To name at least one who could be termed a refiner of the human animal during my own lifetime, there is Mahatma Gandhi.

I am sorry but there is no standard by which I can morally state that the Protestant Evangelical Churches demanding the right to dictate moral refinement have shown that they can't handle the task of refinement and now they push the task thoward the politicians and public school teachers. What must the Creator think of his sentient creations on this earth and their actions during this juncture of their egocentrism and moral weakness?

I truly believe we are offending our children with the political tactics being used by the Right Wing Christians of the Republican Party and their politician minions. Therefore, I’m going to quote from the writings of Matthew in their Book .

“But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Moderator Lone_Star_Democrats@yahoogroups.com

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Yahoo: Bush jokes at Cinco de Mayo dinner about Mexicans needing immigration help - May 5

Remarks By President Bush - Wednesday May 4, 10:11 pm ET

WASHINGTON, May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of remarks from President Bush at a Cinco De Mayo Dinner

AT CINCO DE MAYO DINNER - The Rose Garden - 8:01 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Bienvenidos. (Applause.) Laura and I are honored to host so many distinguished Hispanic Americans, and Mexican leaders here in the Jardin de Rosa. (Laughter.) Welcome to the White House. The way I see it is mi casa es su casa. (Laughter and applause.) I always look forward to Cinco de Mayo, especially because it gives me a chance to practice my Spanish. My only problem this year is I scheduled the dinner on quatro de Mayo. (Laughter.) Next year I'm going to have to work on my math. (Laughter.)

I want to thank you all for coming. I particularly want to thank the Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, for joining us. (Applause.) The Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, and Edi. (Applause.) SBA Administrator Hector Barreto, and his wife Robin. (Applause.) Anna Cabral, and Victor. Anna Cabral is the Treasurer of the United States. Welcome, Anna. (Applause.) Eduardo Aguirre, who is the Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (Applause.)

These guys said they want to get to know you, Eduardo. (Laughter.) By the way, Eduardo has been announced, and upon Senate confirmation will become the U.S. Ambassador to Spain. (Applause.)

Yahoo-White House Press Office full transcript.

D.H.: The transcript goes on to show Bush introducing numerous members of his administration with Hispanic surnames.


Haigler letter to State Rep. Al Edwards on risque cheerleaders bill - May 5

Hon. Al Edwards

State Representative
District 146 (512) 463-7968 Fax
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768

Dear Rep. Edwards:

Congratulations on all the publicity your HB 1476 is getting. Throughout the country, people are laughing at us Democrats of Texas.

We could build new prisons to house these threats to society - risqué cheerleaders! Police all over the state should abandon all other activities on Friday nights when football games are taking place in their communities to monitor these potentially hazardous performances.

We understand some comic relief may be needed in Austin over the Legislature's failure to deal with school finance, medical care for children and other real issues.

Sincerely yours,

Dave Haigler signature

Dave Haigler,

Taylor County Democratic Chair


DemOkie Forum: Heckler who stuns Coulter arrested at UT

Arrest made at Coulter speech; Student arrested, charged with disorderly conduct after offensive question - Wed May 04 2005 11:57:58 ET

Incessant heckling and shouting culminated in an arrest Tuesday night during a speech by controversialist Ann Coulter at the University of Texas at Austin.

THE TEXAN reports: Shouts became so pervasive during the question-and-answer session that Coulter informed the organizers she would no longer take questions if the hecklers were not silenced. For a time, the shouts were considerably lessened, until the issue of gay marriage was broached.

Coulter said she supported the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman on the basis that a good woman civilizes and inspires a man to strive for something better, leading to a question that was met with a stunned silence.

DemOkie Forum full story.

D.H.: The question was an explicit one having to do with anal sex between spouses. Coulter ignored the question but told organizers she would not continue unless hecklers were restrained. With apologies for citing an Oklahoma source for a UT story.


WashPost: House master of grab bags of pork to manage Social Security accounts bill

Bush Ally in House Alters Social Security Debate Strategy

By Jonathan Weisman and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writers - Thursday, May 5, 2005; Page A05

With President Bush's top domestic priority fading fast, Republicans once again have turned to one of their least liked but most effective colleagues: Rep. Bill Thomas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The California Republican saved President Bush's tax cut in 2003, has never lost a vote on the floor and, despite resistance among other House GOP leaders, is poised once again to try to revive the president's proposal to add personal investment accounts to Social Security.

Thomas's aggressive grab for control of Social Security legislation marks a major shift in legislative strategy. The White House and House leaders had wanted the Senate Finance Committee to craft legislation first -- a narrow bill based largely on the president's proposal. Bush aides had figured that the Finance panel would have more luck attracting bipartisan support while House leaders did not want to force their rank and file to vote on a measure that had no chance of Senate passage.

But Thomas, a mercurial lawmaker and former college professor who relishes a challenge, "wants to get in the game," whether or not the GOP leadership wants him to, said one corporate lobbyist with close ties to House leaders. A Republican leadership aide said House leaders were caught by surprise Friday when Thomas announced he would draft legislation in early June that would enlarge the bill considerably to include a grab bag of popular retirement savings provisions and tax incentives. But those who have worked with the chairman were not so surprised.

"Thomas does seem to get all sides mad," said Dan Danner, the top lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business. "But at the end of the day, he gets something through. He delivers."

"If anybody can come up with a proposal that could pass both houses of Congress and solve the problem, it's Bill Thomas," agreed David C. John, a Social Security analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation and a White House ally.

Thomas opted for his approach because he believes Congress should address broader issues confronting an aging society, and because only a bill adorned with long-sought sweeteners can attract enough support to reach the president's desk.

His maneuver has undercut White House and House hopes that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) would assume the pivotal role in drafting changes to the Social Security program and has ignited a lobbying frenzy.

WashPost full story.


Slate: Interest-Group Conservatism

George Bush's philosophy of government. By Jacob Weisberg, Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at 1:04 PM PT

In this, the third year that Republicans have controlled everything, a variation on the old interest-group liberalism has emerged as the new governing philosophy. One might have expected that once in command, conservative politicians would work to further reduce Washington's power and bury the model of special-interest-driven government expansion for good. But one would have been wrong. Instead, Republicans have gleefully taken possession of the old liberal spoils system and converted it to their own purposes. The result is the curious governing philosophy of interest-group conservatism: the expansion and exploitation of government by people who profess to dislike it.

Full Slate article: http://slate.msn.com/id/2118053/nav/ais/nav/ais/.


Slate: today's papers - May 5

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
"Lynndie, Unleashed," By Eric Umansky -- Posted Thursday, May 5, 2005, at 1:00 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Washington Post all lead with a military judge voiding Lynndie England's guilty plea in the Abu Ghraib scandal. The judge said he wasn't convinced, as TP suggested earlier this week, that England knew her actions were wrong. According to military law, defendants can only plead guilty is they show that they knew at the time they were in the wrong. The New York Times leads with yesterday's bombing at a police recruiting post in the Kurdish town Irbil that killed about 60 people and wounded 150.The bomber was on foot and apparently posed as job applicant. A suicide car bomber also hit a checkpoint in Baghdad, killing nine Iraq soldiers and wounding 15. This morning, another 20 Iraqi police and soldiers were killed in two attacks. Two GIs were reported killed in separate car bombings. USA Today's lead says the bill pending in Congress that would make people applying for a drivers' license prove they're here legally will make the application process longer for everyone. Apparently DMV workers will have run names through federal databases.

The military judge made his call after England's former superior and lover, Charles Graner, insisted in testimony that the photos and abuse were de rigueur, and part of what he said was a "planned extraction" in which he had ordered England to take part. That's when the judge lost it: "If Private Graner is to be believed, he was not violating any law, so you could not be violating any law." England will almost certainly be retried, and now might not be able to cop-a-plea.

Everybody fronts the arrest in Pakistan of a man U.S. and Pakistanis described as AQ's number three. The Libyan, named Abu Faraj al-Libbi, is thought to have been behind two assassination attempts of Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf. The papers were all briefed by seemingly the same unnamed "counter-terrorism official," who said al-Libbi's connection to Bin Laden goes back nearly a decade.

Slate full story: http://www.slate.com/id/2118105/fr/nl/.

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NYTimes: Judge Tosses Out Abuse Plea After the Ringleader Testifies - May 5

Lynndie England with son Carter Allan

Published: May 5, 2005

KILLEEN, Tex., May 4 - The court-martial of Pfc. Lynndie R. England -- shown here at court in Ft. Hood with her 7-month-old son, Carter Allan -- accused of abusing naked Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison, was declared a mistrial on Wednesday when a military judge threw out her guilty plea over testimony by the convicted ringleader of the scandal and father of her baby.

The judge, Col. James L. Pohl, ordered the mistrial after Pvt. Charles A. Graner Jr., testifying on behalf of Private England, his former lover, portrayed their handling of a leashed prisoner as legitimate, contradicting her sworn admission of guilt and said she had acted at his request in helping to remove an obstructive prisoner from his cell.

Clearly taken aback, Colonel Pohl broke in, lecturing the defense lawyers. "If you don't want to plead guilty, don't," he said. "But you can't plead guilty and then say you're not. Am I missing something here?"

The drama of the two former intimates and accused co-conspirators confronting each other across a courtroom went unaddressed, although the tangle of relationships has grown with a former wife of Private Graner on hand Wednesday to testify as a witness if called, and revelations that he recently married another convicted defendant, Specialist Megan M. Ambuhl.

Where the case goes from here was far from clear. Neither the prosecutors, Capt. Chris Graveline and Capt. Chuck Neill, nor the defense lawyers, Capt. Jonathan Crisp and Rick Hernandez, commented publicly afterward. But they indicated they would follow up the judge's suggestion that they might "negotiate a new deal - come back another day."

Colonel Pohl said he was returning the case to the "convening authority," the commander of III Corps at Ft. Hood who convened the so-called Article 32 proceeding, the military equivalent of a grand jury, that charged Private England on Feb. 11 with nine offenses carrying prison time of up to 161/2 years.

Capt. C. Cullen Sheppard, a spokesman for the post's legal arm, called the Staff Judge Advocate's Office, said the commanding general had wide latitude, from reinvestigating the case in a new Article 32 proceeding to ordering a special court-martial, handling misdemeanors, or an Article 15 proceeding that can impose lesser punishments like reductions in rank.

Private England, a personnel assistant assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C., and transferred here to Ft. Hood for the trial, could be sent back there, Captain Sheppard said, although she would probably remain at Fort Hood until the case was clarified.

She was originally charged with four offenses by XVIII Airborne Corps in Fort Bragg in May 2004. In August the charges were expanded in an Article 32 Proceeding there but the case was moved to Fort Hood with other prosecutions in December. In February, the Ft. Hood commanding general dismissed the Fort Bragg accusations, and recharged her with Fort Hood's own Article 32 proceedings.

NYTimes full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/05/national/05abuse.html?th&emc=th.


CNN: Two Republican Ethics Committee members recuse from DeLay ethics probe - May 4


Ethics panel members gave money to aid his legal defense

From Ted Barrett -- CNN
Wednesday, May 4, 2005 Posted: 10:57 PM EDT (0257 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two Republican members of the House ethics committee recused themselves Wednesday from any investigation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, saying their presence on the panel could pose a potential conflict of interest because they both contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund.

Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas and Tom Cole of Oklahoma said they met with committee chairman Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington about the matter, and everyone agreed that their recusals would be in the "best interests" of the committee.

The two Republicans will remain on the committee, but won't deal with matters regarding DeLay. It was not immediately clear who would replace them on the 10-member panel, which is evenly divided among Republicans and Democrats.

As Democratic and Republican lawmakers rush to amend their disclosure forms, a [public opinion] poll released Wednesday shows that 82 percent believe lobbyist-funded trips are a serious ethical matter.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll was released the same day the House ethics committee met belatedly for the first time of the year and prepared to begin a review of travel by DeLay, allegedly paid for by lobbyists.

Also Wednesday, two House Democrats introduced legislation to change lobbying rules.

The poll found the "unfavorable" rating for DeLay -- who has been under intense media scrutiny for weeks -- rose 7 points from a month ago. Although his "favorable" rating remained at 27 percent, DeLay's "unfavorable" rating rose from 31 percent to 38 percent.

CNN full story: http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/04/ethics.poll/index.html.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


CNN-Reuters: Saudis sign up for UN nuclear watchdog loophole for small quantities - May 4

Saudis want to limit nuclear inspections --
Wednesday, May 4, 2005 Posted: 9:01 PM EDT (0101 GMT)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it wants to sign an obscure agreement that the U.N. nuclear watchdog has warned could keep international inspectors from monitoring any atomic activities within its borders.

The "small quantities protocol" is an agreement that states who say they have little or no nuclear material can sign with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency. But diplomats close to the agency have described it as a dangerous loophole in the IAEA inspection regime.

CNN-Reuters full story.


Nation-Nichols: Blair taking a beating in the UK for lying about Iraq

The Nation -- Online Beat, by John Nichols -- "Making Iraq the Issue"

The US media barely covers the world anymore – except stories that involve those countries that the administration is actively considering attacking and, of course, those lands that have already been invaded and occupied. As a result, many Americans have no idea that a critical election is taking place in Britain, where George W. Bush's closest ally, Prime Minister Tony Blair, is taking a battering on the issue that should have been central to last year's US presidential election: the lies that led to the war in Iraq.

Blair's Labour party is unlikely to be voted out of office in Thursday's voting, in part because the main opposition party – the Conservatives – also supported the war, and in part because a third of the Labour Party's members of parliament opposed Blair's efforts to sign Britain on for Bush's war.

But while his party remains viable, the prime minister's personal approval ratings have tanked. A number of recent polls show that a majority of British voters believe Blair lied to the British people--and his own Cabinet--in order to get Britain on board for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And when Britain's MORI polling agency asked voters whether they approve of how Blair is handling the current situation with Iraq, 63 percent of those surveyed indicated that they disapproved while only 28 percent supported the approach of the man who is derisively referred to as "Bush's poodle."

And as election day draws near, the headlines in the British press, which, unlike the US media, does not take its cues from the spin machines of the various campaigns, has kept the focus firmly on Iraq.

The Nation-Online Beat, full article.

D.H.: This insightful piece goes on to compare the U.S. media to that of the U.K., saying our media are too timid to expose the lies of its leaders.


Buzzflash: Satan's Filibuster - May 4

by Will Durst

Hey, you crazy faithful, how bout a hand for the Doctor Senator Reverend Indian Chief Bill Frist. Could that guy sweet talk the chrome off the bumper of a 57 Ford or what? And one more time for little Bonita Gonzalez for channeling the Spirit of Ronald Reagan. Should have trusted the Lord to find a way for the Great Communicator to lend a hand in our just cause. And while you’re at it, give yourselves a huge hand for not staying home and watching "Davey and Goliath" but filling the Sugar Bowl in TODAY’S NATIONALLY TELEVISED JUSTICE SUNDAY RALLY 2 SPONSORED BY EXXON-MOBIL! A follow up, or should I say a sequel, to our fabulously successful first Justice Sunday Rally, which frightened the liberal media like a little schoolgirl with hairy spiders down her pants.

And just why are the liberals frightened? Yes, of course, because they’re doomed to spend all of eternity in damnation, but also because they’re afraid of God’s righteous retribution. Afraid of the resolve and conviction the Lord filled us with in our triumphant crusade to wrestle the devil’s pitchfork, the filibuster, to the ground. Afraid of getting their asses kicked in the 06 midterm elections just as sure as God made little acorns to grow up into mighty oaks and topple over onto the picnic blankets of the godless pinning them to the ground in writhing agony. Afraid that George Bush will appoint more judges that are too conservative. Too conservative? What does that mean, ladies and gentlemen? Its like saying the sky is too blue. Or the grass is too green. Or Dennis Hastert is too bland.

Today’s JUSTICE SUNDAY RALLY 2 is a celebration of the destruction of the judicial tyranny that kept Beelzebub’s foot on the neck of people of faith: Satan’s Filibuster. But we can never get so comfortable that we think our job here is done. So let us turn our attention to other forms of repression the inhuman hater of life utilizes to grease the skids for him and his cloven hoofed brethren in Washington and Hollywood. Including but not limited to:

• The so- called Miranda Law. If the guilty really want to know their rights, all they need do is read the Bible. I suggest the unabridged books-on-tape version read by Charlton Heston. His Leviticus rocks.

• That whole "innocent before proven guilty" silliness. A truly spiritual man should be able to tell who’s guilty just by looking at them.

• Perhaps its time to rethink that term "innocent"? Rather outdated, isn’t it; for in God’s Eyes, aren’t we all sinners?

• Habeus corpus. You want to know if someone is imprisoned lawfully? The Lord will tell you when someone is imprisoned lawfully. You’ll meet them in hell.

• The 1st Amendment, which we intend to change to: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, EXCEPT THE ONE TRUE RELIGION, WHICH IS ALLOWED TO SMITE ALL OTHER MAJOR RELIGIOUS BUTT, SINCE THEY’RE DOOMED TO SPEND ALL OF ETERNITY IN DAMNATION ANYWAY."

Also, we’ll take a few shots at activist school boards and anybody who makes fun of Rick Santorum’s hair. But first, let’s welcome Tom DeLay who will explain how to find Satan’s secret subliminal messages in the New York Times.

* * *

Political comic Will Durst keeps looking for Satan’s secret subliminal messages in Rick Santorum’s hair. He is America's premier political comedian and writes "comedy for people who read, or know someone who does." For more on Will, visit his web site.

Source: Buzzflash.


Reuters AlertNet: U.S.-Iran dispute seen stalling arms treaty work - May 4

04 May 2005 19:06:12 GMT

UNITED NATIONS, May 4 (Reuters) - A nuclear dispute between the United States and Iran is threatening progress at a U.N. conference on ways to strengthen a global treaty against the spread of nuclear arms, diplomats said on Wednesday.

Three days into its month-long run, the conference on the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is still wrestling over its agenda -- and this reflects broader fundamental differences, diplomats said.

"Without an agenda, the meeting has no value at all. It is a very serious business," said Algerian ambassador Abdallah Baali, who presided over a similar conference on the treaty in 2000.

The 35-year-old treaty is the bedrock pact for stemming the spread of nuclear arms.

At the heart of the agenda logjam is whether the participants in the conference will reaffirm support for earlier agreements at conferences on the treaty.

Many countries wanted the agenda to cite those agreements, but the United States opposes that because it rejects some of them -- like support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the U.S. Senate failed to ratify.

The United States has insisted the conference focus on current concerns, like Iran and North Korea. The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush has sought to rally other world leaders to tell those two countries to give up their suspected nuclear weapons programs.

On Tuesday, Tehran accused the United States and other nations of using a fear of nuclear weapons to deny peaceful nuclear technology to developing nations.

Iran said it would resume uranium enrichment, which Washington said on Wednesday would violate an Iranian commitment to freeze its nuclear-fuel activities during negotiations with France, Britain and Germany.

Reuters AlertNet full story.


Terry Barhorst: A thought that sprang from Dave's Letter to the editor - May 4

The Republicans really haven't realized yet that they have the tiger by the tail. I guess most of their strategists aren't of an age where they could have witnessed the "Southern" Democrats (AKA Dixiecrats,) screw up so much of the basic premises of the word "Democratic" in Democratic Party.

Now they have their own Tiger and it carries the banner heading Right Wing Christians (RWC.) The spirit of the KKK has changed parties. The religous zealots have discovered the defensive ramparts from which to hurl stones. A rampart that the Conservatives Like Goldwater worked to build to preserve their Libertarian ideals.

To steal the phrase of another era, "They're more to be pitied than censured."

Terry Barhorst, Moderator, Lone_Star_Democrats

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Haigler letter to the editor, Christianity Today, on filibuster debate

To the Editor, Christianity Today:
Your article --
No 'Justice'?
Campaign against filibusters sparks debate among Christians.
by Sheryl Henderson Blunt in Washington | posted 05/04/2005 09:00 a.m. --
is totally one-sided.  It does not cover the "debate among Christians" at all.
The real issue is whether Democrats oppose President Bush's renominated 7 judges because of their faith.  Leaders of Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, who sponsored "Justice Sunday," say they do.
Merely quoting Jim Wallis of Sojourners -- cautioning Dr. James Dobson not to call people "non-Christian" who differ over the filibuster -- does not present both sides of this issue.  Wallis also said, "'Justice Sunday' was an attempt to hijack Christianity for a partisan and ideological agenda."  http://demlog.blogspot.com/2005/04/sojourners-jim-wallis-attempt-to.html
President Bush himself, who claims to be Dobson's Christian brother, pointedly disagreed with Dobson's claim that Democratic opposition is over the nominees' faith.  In his April 28 press conference, when asked about Dobson's claim, Bush said, "I think people are opposing my nominees because they don't like the judicial philosophy of the people I've nominated."  http://demlog.blogspot.com/2005/04/bush-press-conference-bush-repudiates.html
Your story does not quote any Democrat spokespersons.  Nor do you quote any of over 400 religious leaders who explicitly said Dobson's rally was misrepresenting Democratic opposition to the seven nominees. 

Majority Leader Sen. Frist's participation in the event drew fire from Democrats and hundreds of religious leaders, who accused Christian conservatives of raising unsubstantiated allegations of religious persecution.  Four hundred thirty religious leaders from across the country signed a letter to protest Dobson's rally. And the rally prompted opposition rallies, including one in Louisville.

"What we detect instead is the work of a political organization using Christian language to exploit Americans' desire to preserve religious values by framing their political strategy in terms of religious liberty," wrote the Rev. Joe Phelps of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, which held the opposition rally. "This is deceptive, manipulative, and false."  http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/04/24/justice.sunday/index.html

The many Democratic leaders' statements against these judicial nominees all discuss their extreme judicial views, and none mention their religious faith or membership at all.

Yours in Christ,
Dave Haigler, Taylor County, Texas, Democratic Chair
lawyer/mediator/NASD securities arbitrator
3925 N 11th St.
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Arab News: US Eases Saudi Visa Restrictions - May 4

M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News

RIYADH, 4 May 2005 — US Ambassador James C. Oberwetter says changes in the US visa process would ease travel between the States and Saudi Arabia.

The ambassador’s comments come in the wake of the Saudi-US Summit and before a high-profile, 63-member Saudi business mission leaves for the US next week.

“Last week’s visit by Crown Prince Abdullah to the United States has given a major boost to the bilateral relations,” said Oberwetter. “I am very satisfied with the outcome of the royal visit,” he said, referring to the joint communique issued after the talks held by Crown Prince Abdullah and the US President George W. Bush.

He also gave details of the Saudi commercial delegation scheduled to visit the United States from May 7-19. The delegates will hold business talks in several cities including Washington, New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Houston.

Oberwetter said once the new system was in place, it will ensure long-term stays for Saudi businessmen or tourists in the US with multiple-entry visas. “It will also reduce the time lag for processing visa applications and interviews,” he said, without detailing the proposed system.

However, American diplomats in Bahrain told a press conference recently that a new computer database would streamline the visa process around the globe with the number of applicants in a given country determining the time of the wait, which in some cases could take as little as a day.

Saudi applicants currently wait weeks or months for approval after interview. At present, all nonimmigrant visa applicants regardless of their status are required to submit their applications in person at the US Embassy or consulate.

Although, Washington no longer makes public visa issuance and refusal statistics available, sources say that quite a substantial number of Arabs including Saudi nationals applying for visas are turned down.

Saudi-American contacts suffered because of the stringent visa measures announced after Sept. 11 attacks. Thousands of Saudi students — including 3,500 on government scholarships — were enrolled at American universities before Sept. 11, but many of them returned to the Kingdom after they were caught in the backlash of the attack.

Arab News source.


SwissInfo: Italian premier squelches his cabinet member's accusation of US whitewash of shooting

May 4, 2005 5:35 PM, Swiss time

Italy, U.S. look to put Iraq row behind them over U.S. shooting of Italian agent in March

By Crispian Balmer-ROME (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had a "long and friendly" telephone conversation on Wednesday as both countries moved to end a row over the killing of an Italian agent in Iraq. Berlusconi's office and the White House said in statements that Bush had telephoned the Italian leader and again expressed his condolences for the death of Nicola Calipari, who was shot dead at a U.S. military roadblock near Baghdad airport in March. Italy and the United States have issued differing reports on the incident, with the U.S. military exonerating its troops of any blame while Rome said nervous American soldiers and a badly executed roadblock were at the root of the shooting.

The row has severely strained relations between the two allies and prompted calls in Italy for Berlusconi to speed the withdrawal some 3,000 Italian troops deployed in Iraq. However, the prime minister looks eager to draw a line under the affair and Wednesday's statements made clear that Italy and the United States still shared the same objectives for Iraq. "The two countries remain firmly committed to the people and government of Iraq and for the reconstruction of a stable, free and democratic Iraq," the Italian statement said. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "The two leaders agreed that the tragedy would not harm the strong friendship between the United States and Italy, nor our commitment to help the Iraqi people build a brighter future." Bush had called Calipari a hero and asked Berlusconi to pass on his sympathies to Calipari's family. Calipari was shot by a U.S. soldier on the night of March 4, as he was escorting an Italian hostage to freedom on the notoriously dangerous road to Baghdad airport.


The killing aroused strong passions in Italy, piling huge pressure on Berlusconi who has forged particularly close ties with Washington and vaunted a personal friendship with Bush. Rome and Washington set up a joint inquiry into the shooting, but failed to reach the same conclusions. The U.S. released its report last Saturday, pinning much of the blame on the Italians. Italy firmly rebutted the findings on Monday and faulted the U.S. military for setting up dangerous checkpoints and manning them with inexperienced soldiers.

The U.S. conclusions, based largely on the soldiers' testimony because forensic evidence was not preserved, infuriated many Italians; Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli said on Wednesday the American report was "clearly a lie". But those outspoken comments to reporters appeared at odds with Berlusconi's desire to take the sting out the saga. "We have to put an end to this damned business as soon as possible and stop it doing any more damage," the premier was quoted as saying by Il Messaggero newspaper on Wednesday.

Full SwissInfo story: http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&sid=5752787&cKey=1115210136000.

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Slate, today's papers -- A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers - May 4

Bare (Iraqi) Cabinet, By Eric Umansky -- Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005, at 12:35 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and New York Times all lead with the swearing-in of Iraq's new government—complete with six unfilled Cabinet posts, mostly those reserved for Sunnis. The ceremony was boycotted by top Sunnis, including Vice President Ghazi al-Yawar, all of whom have complained that the Shiites' insistence on heavy de-Baathification has resulted in the exclusion of most Sunni candidates. USA Today leads with the government's plans to ask air travelers for their legal names and birth dates. You don't have to give it up, but if you take a pass you'll probably be headed to the super-screened line. The Washington Post's top nonlocal story goes to a federally funded metastudy concluding that an episiotomy, the incision many pregnant women get to reduce the possibility of tears during delivery—has no benefits and actually causes complications. There have been questions about the procedure for years but about 70 percent of first-time mothers still have it done.

The NYT mentions in passing and the WP gives more space to a purported letter from a guy in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group complaining that "morale is down and there is fatigue among mujahedeen ranks." The military says it intercepted the undated letter; obviously nobody knows if the letter is legit.

The NYT, LAT, and WSJ all go high with Iran making noise about restarting its nuclear program. The Iranians said they just want the nuclear power for peaceful purposes. They had agreed to suspend progress on their program while negotiating with Europe. According to the Journal, Tehran said it's planning to actually start enriching uranium, the key step for making nukes, in a couple of months. That could obviously be a bluff or an attempt to fracture the European front. "They're always probing for weaknesses," said one European diplomat. "We're all wondering if this is 'the crisis' or just another test."

Slate full article.

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