.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

 

Barhorst: A scenario that may be 2008

Looking holistically at as much as possible of the situation of today and actions that are guaranteed to show up in the future, I’m going to make a rather radical guess at some future facts. I think the last puzzle piece was the situation created by the Republicans, and, the interpretation of the law by courts on bankruptcy.

Before the next presidential election the non-executive workers of this country will fall below the corrected dollar averages of wage and discretionary spending percentages that have existed since the nineteen forties.

The “big box” concept of merchandising and the concentration of agribusiness will cause the “Mom & Pop” businesses and farms to be pushed to the point where the double standard bankruptcy laws will begin to put them out of business.

Pension security will be a concept of the past and the cost of medical care will further nourish an era of euthanasia by default for the elderly that has already begun.

The leasing of transportation, like new automobiles, will come closer to being a given rather than a choice. The cost versus income ratio will place purchase costs beyond the period’s middle and lower income group, as it is in 3rd world countries.

“Insurance” company’s will own more and pay out less than anytime in history.

“Jobs” will begin to flow back into this country as desperate hourly wage earners accept “contracts” to work more cheaply, without benefits, and at the corporations’ pleasure. They will quickly begin to match and then surpass, in a downward spiral, the cost of manufacture and shipping from overseas offshore corporations. Walmart is a template for this scenario.

There is a chance that whole cities may become classic “company towns” with personal ownership of homes minimal and big box stores beholding to the company and direct monetary flow where the workers handle little of their earnings.

A single religion, with its interpreters, will begin to influence the making of laws to the point where those outside that religion and its morality interpretations will become criminalized.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.



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Slate: Today's Papers - Base Instinct - overall effect of BRAC - May 14

By Sam Schechner

Saturday, at 1:51 AM PT

Everyone leads with the Defense Department's recommendation yesterday to target, close or realign some 837 military installations in a wave of consolidation over the next six years. The Pentagon says the moves would eliminate 18,223 jobs and save almost $49 billion over 20 years.

If approved, the realignment will amount, according to the Los Angeles Times, the only paper to hazard a nationwide thesis, to a large-scale shift of troops and equipment from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and, to a lesser extent, the West.

Sam Schechner is a freelance writer in New York.


Friday, May 13, 2005

 

NYPost: Jane Fonda on faith & politics & her life - May 13

Jane Fonda
-----
Liz Smith interviews Jane Fonda:

LIZ: Jane, many people are interested in your having become a Christian after being an agnostic most of your life. What kind of church do you go to in Atlanta?

Jane: I am searching for one, but have not found one yet. And, Liz, I am a feminist Christian.

Liz: So maybe you see Christianity in a broader sense than the fundamentalists?

Jane: I don't want to offend anyone. But I believe people have different ways of approaching The Word. For me, it's metaphor, written by people a long time after Christ died. And interpreted by specific groups. I read the gospels that aren't included in the Bible. These make me feel good about calling myself a Christian. What we are seeing today are policymakers who say they're Christians.

Budgets are a religious matter. War is. Poverty is. Health care is. Jesus said, "Look after the least of us." But there is a separation between professed faith and the practice, and I'm not seeing too many policies coming out of Washington that are, in my opinion, informed by the teachings of Jesus.

Liz: It seems Jesus surrounded himself with women and depended on them.

Jane: Real women . . . and prostitutes. Samaritans and outcasts.

Liz: Yes, publicans and sinners. Or was that Republicans and sinners?

Jane: (Laughter) I was at the White House correspondents' dinner the other night, and Laura Bush was really funny. Her approval rating is way up, as it should be.

Liz: Did you see the president's press conference before that; I thought he was floundering.

Jane: No, I thought he was very impressive. I don't know him, but I have always thought if I were alone in a room with him, I would really like him.

Liz: Well, many people do like him, and he has an informal appealing quality, they say. Jane, let's get back on you. What do you think of today's theory that the Vietnam war turned today's Vietnam into a flourishing Asian market economy Western style. Is that any excuse for the war that you protested?

Jane: I read that the other day. No, it's not an excuse. The tragedy is, the so-called enemy is running the country and we lost 3 million Vietnamese lives and 58,000 American lives. It never had to happen because they were offering this same kind of peace before the war started. But some Americans felt we had to fight to keep the "domino theory" from happening. No, I still protest the war. But if you could meet some of the veterans I meet in touring with this book . . . They are so great. They are amazing men.

Liz: The incident of your sitting on the gun, which you have apologized for -- are you aware that even though it outraged a lot of people, it did not really affect your film career!

Jane: Not my career. It affected my heart. But I notice when I do radio shows, the interviewers tell the listeners that we're not screening calls. And I swear to you, all of the calls seem to be positive.

Liz: Jane, are you financially secure? Do you have to work and do movies to survive?

Jane: I'm OK, but I work to endow my organizations in Georgia. The Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, a statewide idea to help children against sexual abuse, poor parenting, school failure. Half my salary from "Monster-in-Law" went to that. If people want to help, the Web site is www.gcapp.org.

Liz: Will you do more movies?

Jane: Yes. I don't want to do a lot, but I will do some -- both for money and because it is fun.

Liz: Would you ever act on the stage again?

Jane: I don't think so. I don't want to be away from my children.

Liz: With Jay Leno, he said to you that you walked like a movie star, and you answered, "I wonder why." It was a great line. But do you think of yourself as a film star?

Jane: I think starring in films is one of the things I do. (Laughter) But it's not who I am. I am, among other things, a grandmother, an activist; I work with kids; acting has always been just a part of what I do.

Liz: Will you stay in Atlanta?

Jane: It's manageable; it's a real place. People are very friendly. I have a life there with my work and my children. I'm very happy there. I spend other time in New Mexico at my ranch, and I like to fly fish. And I ride; I have eight horses. I like visiting New York. I like visiting L.A., but I wouldn't go back to live in Hollywood for anything.

Liz : So now you're a Southern girl?

Jane: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yep.


 

Chronicle: Stabbing victim Ortralla Mosley's mother testifies on dating violence before Texas House committee - May 13

- Austin Chronicle
Carolyn Mosley, mother of slain Reagan High School student Ortralla Mosley, shown here tearfully testifying, in photo by Jana Burchum.

"Please help us to help the children. Educate us all. Educate the ones that should have been there for her." Such testimony might ring hollow in a House Public Education Committee, but coming from Carolyn Mosley, mother of slain Reagan High School student Ortralla Mosley, the effect was quietly devastating.

Carolyn testified May 3 on behalf of HB 1166, authored by Austin's Rep. Dawnna Dukes. Created to defuse teen dating violence, HB 1166 seeks to halt "abuse used by a partner to harm, threaten, intimidate or otherwise control a partner," according to a bill analysis. Dukes seeks to accomplish this through school staff and instructor education. Mosley described a lack of institutional support in the days leading up to her daughter's murder by ex-boyfriend Marcus McTear. Ortralla "talked to people, begged people. -- That's what she was asking for all day long," said Carolyn, tears tumbling down her face as she shook in front of the dais. After describing her daughter's stabbing, she recounted her daughter's serene courage: "My baby looked up at him and said 'I'm sorry. I forgive you.'"

McTear, an athlete whose gridiron aggression extended far off the field, was a point of contention during the testimony. Members asked Reagan English teacher Vanessa Conner, who was with Ortralla when she died, questions about administrators' lapses in disciplining, counseling, and transferring McTear. "She was told to stay away from him because the district had no policy," Conner said.

Asked why, given a violent history, nothing was done about McTear, a voice from the crowd boomed, "Because he was a star athlete!" That voice belonged to RaeAnne Spence, a classmate of Ortralla, and a previous victim of McTear. When at one point Rep. Scott Hochberg brought up Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code, an alt-ed program for at-risk youth with emphasis on self-discipline, Spence sobbed, "I'm just a child. -- Chapter 37 didn't help me. It didn't help Ortralla." Rep. Dukes, herself a Reagan graduate, pointed to the school's current program, a collaboration with Austin nonprofit SafePlace, as heading off several violent incidents. Indeed, Conner stated that the previous day, a student had come forward out of concern for a friend. "They'll speak for one another. -- [A] young man was immediately removed from school yesterday," Conner said. Legislators reported HB 1166 favorably and sent it on to [the] Calendars [Committee].


 

Buzzflash: White House Moves Disability Benefits to The Chopping Block - May 13

-----
BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT

Washington, DC - A day after the chief White House economist admitted that the Bush plan to privatize Social Security would include cuts to survivor benefits, the Bush administration also acknowledged that it would not protect disability benefits despite earlier assurances that these earned benefits would remain untouched. This is the latest trial balloon in the Bush administration’s real plan to dismantle Social Security. The announcement may help explain why a new Harris poll found that only 36 percent of Americans think President Bush’s “comments on saving and strengthening Social Security are his real motives for changing the program, while 49% believe his real agenda is to dismantle it.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/13/05]

“For the second day in a row, the Bush administration has admitted that despite past assurances, they never intended to protect Social Security disability and survivor benefits,” said DNC spokesman Josh Earnest. “From steep benefit cuts for the middle class, to risky private accounts, and now no protections for disability or survivor benefits, it’s becoming clearer every day that Bush’s real plan is to dismantle Social Security.”

THEN
Bush: Disability Benefits Won’t Be Cut. “[Bush] said he has no plans to cut benefits for the approximately 40 percent of Social Security recipients who collect monthly disability and survivor payments as he prepares his plan for partial privatization.” [Washington Post, 1/16/05]

NOW
Bush Administration Won’t Protect Disability Benefits. “Future Social Security retirement benefits for disabled workers is a matter for negotiations with Congress as it drafts solvency legislation, the Bush administration said Thursday, declining to say whether they should be raised, lowered or left unchanged. ‘Any plan that maintains current disability benefits will need to address the transition to retirement, and those details will be worked out through the legislative process,’ said White House spokesman Trent Duffy.” [AP, 5/13/05]

 

AP: Ellsworth to close, B-1's to Dyess, Sen. Thune has egg on face after Daschle kept Ellsworth before - May 13

-----
12:46 PM (ET), Friday - By MARY CLARE JALONICK

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon's recommendation to close Ellsworth Air Force Base dealt a political setback to South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the Republican whose close ties to the White House helped him defeat Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.

At the end of the heated campaign last fall, Daschle used the Rapid City, S.D., base as an example of his clout in Washington, claiming to have kept the base off the list during the last round of closures when Bill Clinton was president.

Thune's campaign countered that Daschle's role as leader of President Bush's opposition would be a liability during the base closure process.

Thune, who was lobbied by Republicans at the highest level to challenge Daschle, said Friday that South Dakota officials did all they could to keep the base open, "and we will continue to do everything we can in the future."

"I will help lead the fight in the Senate" to delay this round of base closings, Thune said.

Last month, Thune said that he gave the "full court press to inform and impress" the Pentagon, using his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Thune also said he talked to Vice President Dick Cheney about saving Ellsworth before he was sworn in earlier this year.

Ellsworth has 29 B-1B bombers, half the nation's fleet of the aircraft. They would join the others at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.

Its missile silos, once scattered across western South Dakota, were deactivated after the Cold War ended.

An Air Force study last year estimated that Ellsworth has an annual $278 million economic impact on South Dakota.

 

E&P: Reporters needle McClellan over nobody notifying President Bush about evacuations due to plane in D.C. air space

By Editor & Publisher Staff
Published: May 12, 2005 5:25 PM ET

NEW YORK--On the day after more than 30,000 people -- including the vice president, the first lady, and a former first lady -- were evacuated from their offices or homes in Washington, D.C., but the president, who was biking in Maryland was not notified until the threat passed, reporters grilled Press Secretary Scott McClellan at his daily briefing.

Editor & Publisher, full story.

D.H.: The reporters needled Scott McClellan repeatedly over how President Bush appeared non-essential to the decisions that were made about the threat.

 

Miami Herald: A year after Supreme Court says Guantanamo Bay "enemy combatants" can sue, D.C. court starts receiving handwritten pleas - May 13

HERALD EXCLUSIVE | GUANTANAMO BAY

Captives plead for release in personal notes to district court

BY CAROL ROSENBERG, crosenberg@herald.com

In the latest twist in the Guantánamo Bay legal struggle, 16 war-on-terror prisoners ranging from a self-described nomadic shepherd to a disabled 78-year-old Afghan man are suing the U.S. government -- acting as their own attorneys from behind the razor wire at Camp Delta in Cuba.

The U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., docketed the cases on May 3 after a series of single-paragraph pleas from captives arrived in the court's mail.

The latest suits are extraordinary because the 16 captives wrote to the court directly, without benefit of a lawyer, from their prison camp 1,300 miles away. Further, some of the prisoners suing on their own are illiterate.

''My wish from you is please inquire about my sad story. I've been detained here unlawfully and sinlessly,'' writes Sharbat-Khan, age unknown, the self-described shepherd who said he lost 300 sheep and 10 camels when he was captured in Afghanistan and sent to the base in Cuba.

The military is holding about 500 men and teens from at least 42 nations as ''enemy combatants'' at the Navy base in Cuba, alleging they are al Qaeda or Taliban members or sympathizers. About 150 already have filed suit, through lawyers lined up by family members from the Persian Gulf to Europe.

The 16 captives dictated their pleas to military payroll linguists at Guantánamo, according to military sources, who translated them and submitted them to military censorship.

Officers then sent them to the court by certified U.S. mail, along with 16 others, still unfiled, that arrived this week.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that detainees can sue for their freedom. The Defense Department began giving captives the court's mailing address in December.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ordered the first 16 letters be filed as habeas corpus petitions, or writs, and waived the routine $5 filing fee. The petitions name President Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and two Army officers as defendants.

''My imprisonment is unjustified,'' self-described blacksmith Alif Mohammed says in a 61-word statement. ``I'm a poor person and am feeding 10 children of my own. Now I want justice and freedom to return to my country and . . . be reunited with my family.''

Each statement bears a stamp ''APPROVED BY US FORCES'' from the prison camp's intelligence unit, showing each was cleared by military censors before being sent to the court on Constitution Avenue. They are dated in late February and early March, and arrived the last week of April.

Attorney Eugene R. Fidell of the National Institute for Military Justice predicted that federal judges would appoint lawyers to help the 16 captives, rather than leave them to manage their cases by mail from Camp Delta.

Miami Herald - full story.

D.H.: The article goes on to discuss how the wheels of justice turn slow, but how the federal judge in Washington seems to be bending over backwards to waive some of the normal procedural rules to make it easier for these people to seek justice.

 

Slate: Today's Papers - Foreign Relations Committee's non-endorsement of Bolton - May 13

By Eric Umansky
Grand Old Party Pooper

Posted Friday, at 12:44 AM PT

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post all lead with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passing along to the full Senate--"without recommendation"--John Bolton's nomination as U.N. ambassador. The rare non-endorsement was necessitated by Republican George Voinovich, who withheld his blessing but in a compromise did not actually vote no, a move that would have blown Bolton's chances. It was the first time in 12 years the committee has passed along a non-endorsement. USA Today reefers Bolton and leads with the Army introducing a new super-small 15-month enlistment. The previous shortest active-duty deal was two years. The head of Army recruiting called this year "the toughest recruiting climate ever faced by the all-volunteer Army." And as the NYT emphasizes inside, she said 2006 will probably be worse.

Voinovich gave subtle hints about how he'll vote once the nomination hits the full Senate. He called Bolton "the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be." Voinovich continued, "What message are we sending to the world [by appointing] an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally and of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves?"


To continue reading, click here.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com.

 

NYTimes: 4-7 Republican moderates sometimes break with president and party - May 13

News Analysis
Republican Moderates in Senate Sense Intensifying Pressures
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON, May 12 - The unusual pact that permitted the nomination of John R. Bolton to go forward on Thursday without the support of a crucial Republican senator has exposed, in a very raw and public way, the extreme pressures facing Republican moderates in a Senate that is increasingly dominated by conservatives.

President Bush called the dissenting Republican, Senator George V. Voinovich of Ohio, on Wednesday, the day before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which Mr. Voinovich serves, was to take up the nomination, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said.

Karl Rove, the president's powerful political adviser, and Andrew H. Card Jr., the chief of staff, also called to chat with Mr. Voinovich in recent weeks, Mr. McClellan said.

And Mr. Voinovich, who has steadfastly refused to answer questions about any discussions with the White House, is hardly the only Republican who is feeling the squeeze these days.

From the fight over Mr. Bolton to the looming blowup over the president's judicial nominees to the debate over the proposal to overhaul Social Security, Republican moderates are caught in the middle as never before. As they look to the near future, to a possible vacancy on the Supreme Court, they realize that the pressures will only intensify.

"Bolton is a perfect example of putting the moderates in an impossible situation," said Senator Lincoln Chafee, the Rhode Island Republican who also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and who agonized publicly over Mr. Bolton for weeks. "It's a no-win. Either we don't support the president or we vote for a very unpopular pick to represent us at the United Nations."

The elections in November put seven new Republicans, nearly all conservatives, in the Senate, increasing the party's majority to 55. As moderate Senate Republicans look out around the country, they are comforted by the ranks of moderate governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, George E. Pataki in New York and Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.

But here in the Capitol, their numbers are so few, said Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, that they quit having their weekly lunches about a year ago.

"Susan and I were there alone for so much of the time," Mr. Specter he said, referring to Senator Susan Collins of Maine, "we worked through all of our conversation and decided to disband."

As Mr. Voinovich's refusal to support Mr. Bolton's nomination demonstrates, "the vanishing center"-as another centrist Republican, Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, often says - can still play a powerful role. There are just four core centrists in the Senate, Mr. Chafee, Ms. Collins, Ms. Snowe and Mr. Specter. They are joined from time to time by mavericks like Senators John McCain of Arizona, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Mr. Voinovich.

NYTimes Analysis full article.

D.H.: The article goes on to say only 3 of them have publicly said they will oppose the so-called "nuclear option" of preventing filibusters on judicial nominees. That would leave 52 still supporting it, unless 3 of the remaining 4 break with the party and president on that issue as well.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

 

US House: Pelosi supports Social Security forum for women - May 12

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi discusses women and Social Security
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) shown here speaking to the Women and Social Security Forum:

For decades, Social Security has represented dignity and independence to millions of women over the years. More than 24 million women receive Social Security benefits, and without Social Security, 53 percent of all senior women would be living in poverty. Democrats are fighting to save Social Security and stop privatization so that American women can continue to rely on this guaranteed benefit.

Source: House Democrats.


 

AP: Nebraska federal judge rejects Neb. gay-marriage ban - May 12

Thursday, 5:43 PM (ET) - BY KEVIN O'HANLON

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A federal judge Thursday struck down Nebraska's ban on gay marriage, saying the measure interferes not only with the rights of gay couples but also with those of foster parents, adopted children and people in a host of other living arrangements.

The constitutional amendment, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, was passed overwhelmingly by the voters in November 2000.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon, who 4 years ago declared a mistrial and apologized for a joke in court about Mexican officials taking bribes, said the ban "imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights" of gays "and creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs' right to petition or to participate in the political process."

Bataillon said the ban beyond "goes far beyond merely defining marriage as between a man and a woman."

The judge said the "broad proscriptions could also interfere with or prevent arrangements between potential adoptive or foster parents and children, related persons living together, and people sharing custody of children as well as gay individuals."

Nebraska has no state law against gay marriage.

The challenge was filed by the gay rights organization Lambda Legal and the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Project.

Lamba Legal attorney David Buckel has called the ban "the most extreme anti-gay family law in the entire nation."

Forty states have Defense of Marriage laws, but Nebraska's ban is the only one that prevents homosexuals who work for the state or the University of Nebraska system from sharing health insurance and other benefits with their partners.

Massachusetts has allowed gay marriage since last May. Vermont has offered civil unions to gays since 2000; Connecticut will begin offering civil unions in October.

 

CNN: Majority Leader Frist receives Judiciary Committee approval of 4 controversial judge nominees - May 12

vert.frist.jpgThursday, Posted: 4:07 PM EDT (2007 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10 to 8 Thursday to send the nomination of former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, Jr. and 3 other controversial nominees to the Senate floor.

The vote adds Pryor's name to the list of four other judicial nominations passed out of the committee -- all on the same party-line vote -- and brings the Senate ever closer to a showdown over the Democrats' use of filibusters to block President Bush's nominations.

Those other "controversial" nominees are former Interior Department lawyer William Myers, for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco; Texas judge Priscilla Owen, for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and California judge Janice Rogers Brown, for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Several Republican senators -- including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist -- have at the least intimated that Democrats are applying a "religious" test to the president's nominees, rejecting them for their personal views.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, gave a spirited defense of Pryor, who succeeded him as Alabama's attorney general, saying "more than anybody that I know. he was committed to the ideals of law."

Sessions noted that Pryor opposed Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore when Moore put a large stone monument to the Ten Commandments in a prominent position in the state Justice Center.

"About the only people (in Alabama) who have opposed Judge Pryor are conservative Gov. Fob James and former Chief Justice Roy Moore," he said. "Even though he is pro-life in his views, he understands where the authority of law is and is committed to follow it."

Democrats on the committee, however, said religious views had nothing to do with their objection to Pryor, citing instead his record and comments, including his opposition to the Violence Against Women Act and his ridiculing of the U.S. Supreme Court as "nine octogenarian lawyers who happen to sit on the Supreme Court" when they granted a temporary stay of execution in an Alabama capital murder case.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said the complaints that Democrats are employing a religious test come from "outlier groups who somehow have undue influence on the Republicans in this Senate."

"They are petulant," he said. "They want their way. They think they can read the heavens, and anyone who disagrees with them lacks in faith or doesn't have the right to be heard.

"This is what our patriotic founding fathers were not about."

Republicans, however, countered that Pryor's decisions and comments were taken out of context and that he was being rejected for doing his job. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Pryor was being "demonized" by the Democrats, while Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, objected to hearing him characterized as an "extremist."

"At a minimum, we should tone down the rhetoric," he said.

Before the vote, committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, urged an end to party-line voting.

"It continues to be my hope that both leaders would liberate their caucuses from party-line voting," Specter said. "We would not have filibusters if Democrats voted their consciences.

"Similarly, if Republicans were freed from the party-line straitjacket, there would not be support" for Republican threats to invoke a 'nuclear option'" and eliminate the Senate's 60-vote requirement to end a filibuster.

During debate before the vote, Democrats noted that 208 of President Bush's 218 nominees for judicial positions have been confirmed by the Senate and objected to Republican characterization of them as obstructionists.

Schumer said passing Pryor out of the committee was "nothing more than a stage-setting for an attempt to undo what the Senate's been about for all these years," setting up Frist's threat to impose the "nuclear option" to eliminate the use of the filibuster to block the nominations.

"We stand on the precipice of a constitutional crisis," Schumer said. "Bill Pryor is the last of the four most controversial nominees."

Source: CNN.


 

WashPost: Tortured history of NC federal judge nominated for appeals court 14 years ago and still pending - May 12


By Charles Lane

Thursday, Page A01

The Senate Judiciary Committee's schedule says today is the day for a vote on President Bush's nomination of Terrence W. Boyle to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Then again, the Republican-controlled committee may put it off to deal with other judicial nominees and unrelated business; it has done so twice this year already.

And so it goes in Boyle's bid for a seat on the federal appellate bench -- a nearly 15-year saga whose end is nowhere in sight.

Boyle, a favorite of former senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), has been a controversial candidate ever since President George H.W. Bush tried and failed in 1991 to put him on the Richmond-based 4th Circuit.

Democrats say he is an ultra-conservative who is hostile to civil rights and has been frequently overruled on appeal; they have not ruled out a filibuster against him if he is approved by the Judiciary Committee. Republicans call him a fair-minded judge and tout his "well-qualified" rating from the American Bar Association.

But the debate has gone far beyond his qualifications or philosophy. Over the years, it has become an argument over race, politics and plain old partisan payback.

As such, it illustrates the tangled, rancorous history of the current Senate impasse over Bush's judicial nominations -- a deadlock that could turn into a political crisis if Republicans eliminate the filibuster to speed confirmation of Bush's picks, and Democrats respond by blocking other Senate business. Boyle is one of 12 circuit court nominees pending before the Senate.

"It's like the Hatfields and McCoys," said Ronald A. Klain, a former top aide to Vice President Al Gore who also headed the Senate Judiciary Committee's Democratic staff in the early 1990s. "Trying to figure out who shot first is completely incomprehensible at this point in time."

Boyle, 59, graduated from Brown in 1967 and from American University's law school in 1970. A transplanted New Jerseyite, he owes his prominence in North Carolina in part to his connection to Helms.

A staunch advocate of states' rights, Boyle worked briefly for Helms in 1973. He is the son-in-law of Tom Ellis, the adviser who helped build Helms's political machine. At Helms's urging, President Ronald Reagan nominated Boyle, then a lawyer in private practice, to be a federal district judge in 1984. The Senate confirmed him on a unanimous vote.

It was not until October 1991, when Bush tapped him for the 4th Circuit -- at Helms's behest -- that Boyle became the object of partisan wrangling.

Rest of the story: click for next page.

D.H.: This story illustrates how one party in power can treat someone shabbily, then the other party comes into power and retaliates -- and possibly-qualified people get caught in the crossfire.


 

AP-Yahoo: Sen. Voinovich to Vote for 'Bullying' Bolton - May 12

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer - 32 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio agreed on Thursday to let the contentious nomination of John Bolton as United Nations ambassador go to the full Senate for a vote. But he issued a scathing attack on Bolton.

Voinovich portrayed Bolton, now the top arms-control diplomat at the State Department, as "arrogant" and "bullying."

"John Bolton is the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be," Voinovich said. He said Bolton would be fired if he was in private business.

"That being said, Mr. Chairman, I am not so arrogant to think that I should impose my judgment and perspective of the U.S. position in the world community on the rest of my colleagues," he added. "We owe it to the president to give Mr. Bolton an up or down vote on the floor."

Republicans hold a 10-8 edge on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. All eight Democrats have said they would vote against Bolton. Thus, a single "no" GOP vote would deadlock the panel and keep the nomination from going to the floor.

Voinovich said he would vote for a resolution to send the nomination to the floor without a recommendation of approval or rejection.

"After hours of deliberation, telephone calls, personal conversations, reading hundreds of pages of transcripts, and asking for guidance from Above, I have come to the determination that the United States can do better than John Bolton," Voinovich said.

He said he hoped the full Senate, where Republicans hold a 55-45 majority, would reject the nomination.

"What message are we sending to the world community?" Voinovich asked.

The Republican chairman of the panel, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, defended the nomination in opening remarks, while conceding that "Secretary Bolton's actions were not always exemplary."

Bolton misjudged the actions of subordinates and sometimes clashed with superiors in his current job as the State Department's arms control chief, Lugar said. But weeks of intense Senate inquiry turned up no evidence that Bolton did anything that would disqualify him as President Bush's choice for the United Nations job, Lugar said.

"The picture is one of an aggressive policy-maker who pressed his missions at every opportunity and argued vociferously for his point of view," Lugar said. "In the process, his blunt style alienated some colleagues. But there is no evidence that he has broken laws or engaged in serious ethical misconduct."

 

Reuters: Five key points about Iran nuclear stand-off - May 12


VIENNA (Reuters) - Following are key facts about the stand-off over Iran's nuclear programme, which Tehran says is aimed solely at the peaceful generation of electricity.

HOW IT BEGAN - The United States has long suspected Iran is developing nuclear weapons. In August 2002, an exiled Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said Tehran was concealing a large uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy water production plant at Arak.

After hiding its enrichment programme for 18 years, Iran declared these facilities to the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in October 2003. WHAT THE IAEA HAS FOUND - The IAEA has uncovered numerous hidden activities and facilities which should have been declared as required by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Although it has found many potentially weapons-related activities, the IAEA has found no hard evidence proving beyond doubt that Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons.

U.S. POSITION - The United States has been pushing the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council for violating its NPT obligations. The IAEA board has refused to do so, preferring to allow France, Britain and Germany time and space to negotiate with Tehran.

EU INITIATIVE - France, Britain and Germany first offered Iran economic and political incentives in October 2003 if it gave up its enrichment programme. Iran agreed to freeze the programme but never completely suspended it. As a result, this deal collapsed early last year but was revived in November, when Tehran again agreed to a full freeze of enrichment-related work.

The EU-Iran talks are again in danger of collapsing after Iran threatened to resume some enrichment-related activities.

U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL - It is possible that Iran's case will eventually be referred to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council. The council can do many things, though it would probably begin by issuing a statement urging Iran to cooperate fully with the IAEA and to resume the freeze of enrichment-related activities.

It could also request that IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei make periodic progress reports to the council on inspections in Iran.

If Iran refused to comply, the council could impose economic or political sanctions. For example, it could impose restrictions on the sale of Iranian oil or ban travel for officials. The council can even authorise military action.

Like the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China both wield vetoes on the council and would be reluctant to vote in favour of any harsh action by the council, diplomats say.

 

Haigler: Reading between the lines about the NC church squabble - May 12

All media outlets are screaming about the supposed outrage of a Baptist pastor in N.C. kicking church members out for voting for Democrats.

I smelled a fish about this story from day one.

If Pastor Chan Chandler of East Waynesville (N.C.) Baptist Church really had demanded that those voting for Kerry leave the church, why did he wait til May 2005 to do so, or they also wait 7 months after the election to complain about it?

The Christianity Today story that I blogged yesterday makes a heck of a lot of sense to me. I may have to say "trust me" on some of this.

I've been in 6 churches from 1969 til 1983 when we moved to Abilene, and 5 since. I've been in leadership of one type or another in 7 of those. Leading a church is like coaching a chicken race. (or a political party?) :)

I can see the pastor saying something like CT claimed he said, "It is Godless to vote for anybody who supports abortion and homosexual marriage." Never mind, Kerry didn't support the latter -- he was from the state that started the whole controversy, and that's as far as some of these folks can think.

And never mind, that Kerry doesn't even support abortion. These people think in black and white terms -- if you're not ag'in it, you must be f'er it.

Please, read my piece "The Cultural Irrelevance of Fundamentalism and Dispensationalism" at www.haigler.info/page11.html item #9 and get the historical background.

This situation is a good reminder of how we Democrats have missed the boat in framing the issues.

I really, bottom line, feel it is generally a good thing that evangelical Christians are waking up from the slumber I describe in the above-linked article that has afflicted them culturally since around 1905.

They are now -- in a manner of speaking -- doing something even if it's wrong. They weren't doing diddly before. It's easier to tack a moving sailboat into the opposite direction than move one that's got no wind in the sail.

We will achieve a heck of a lot more by tapping into this passionate, principled energy than we could by influencing the Interfaith Councils of the world -- in my humble opinion. And when they begin to realize they've been conned, as I did, it's gonna be hell to pay for the Republicans.

--Dave Haigler

religious-liberty lawyer/mediator/NASD securities arbitrator
Taylor County, Texas, Democratic Chair
(former pro-life Republican for 24 years)


 

NYTimes op-ed: The Young and the Jobless - only 1/3 of teens, 2/3rds of 20-24's working - May 12

...the employment rate for the nation's teenagers in the first 11 months of 2004 - just 36.3 percent - was the lowest it has ever been since the federal government began tracking teenage employment in 1948. Those 20 to 24 years old are also faring poorly. In 2000, 72.2 percent were employed during a typical month. By last year that percentage had dropped to 67.9 percent.

There were high fives at the White House last week when the latest monthly employment report showed that 274,000 jobs had been created in April, substantially more than experts had predicted.

The employment bar has been set so low for the Bush administration that even a modest gain is cause for celebration. But we shouldn't be blinded by the flash of last Saturday's headlines. American workers, especially younger workers, remain stuck in a gloomy employment landscape.

For example, a recent report from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston tells us that the employment rate for the nation's teenagers in the first 11 months of 2004 - just 36.3 percent - was the lowest it has ever been since the federal government began tracking teenage employment in 1948.

Those 20 to 24 years old are also faring poorly. In 2000, 72.2 percent were employed during a typical month. By last year that percentage had dropped to 67.9 percent.

Even the recent modest surge in jobs has essentially bypassed young American workers. Gains among recently arrived immigrants seem to have accounted for the entire net increase in jobs from 2000 through 2004.

Over all, only workers 55 and up have done reasonably well over the past few years. "Younger workers," said Andrew Sum, the center's director, "have just been crushed."

Whatever the politicians and the business-booster types may be saying, the simple truth is that there are not nearly enough jobs available for the many millions of out-of-work or underworked men and women who need them. The wages of those who are employed are not even keeping up with inflation.

Workers have been so cowed by an environment in which they are so obviously dispensable that they have been afraid to ask for the raises they deserve, or for their share of the money derived from the remarkable increases in worker productivity over the past few years. And from one coast to the other, workers have swallowed draconian cuts in benefits with scarcely a whimper.

Some segments of the population have been all but completely frozen out. In Chicago, only one of every 10 black teenagers found employment in 2004. In Illinois, fewer than one in every three teenage high school dropouts are working.

Last month's increase of 274,000 jobs was barely enough to keep up with the increase in the nation's working-age population.

"The economy is growing and real output is up," said Mr. Sum, who is also a professor at Northeastern. "But the distribution of income, in terms of how much is going to workers - well, the answer is very little has gone to the typical worker."

The squeeze on the younger generation of workers is so tight that in many cases the young men and women of today are faring less well than their parents' generation did at a similar age. Professor Sum has been comparing the standard of living of contemporary families with that of comparable families three decades ago.

"Two-thirds of this generation are not living up to their parents' standard of living," he said.

College graduates today are doing better in real economic terms than college graduates in the 1970's. But everyone else is doing less well. "If you look at families headed by someone without a college degree," said Professor Sum, "their income last year in real terms was below that of a comparable family in 1973. For dropouts it's like 25 percent below where it was. And for high school grads, about 15 to 20 percent below."

It shouldn't be surprising that the standard of living of large segments of the population is sinking when employers have all the clout, including the powerful and unwavering support of the federal government. Workers can't even get a modest increase in the national minimum wage.

Globalization was supposed to be great for everyone. Nafta was supposed to be a boon. Increased productivity was supposed to be the ultimate tool - the sine qua non - for raising the standard of living for all.

Instead, wealth and power in the United States has become ever more dangerously concentrated, leaving an entire generation of essentially powerless workers largely at the mercy of employers.

A remark by Louis Brandeis comes to mind: "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. But we can't have both."

E-mail: bobherb@nytimes.com.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

 

AP: Errant Flight Prompts Capitol Evacuations - May 11

People evacuate Dirksen Senate Office Building after small plane violated restricted airspace. Capitol visitors & employees in Washington, D.C., are seen here scrambling to vacate the building on a security alert caused by a private pilot entering restricted airspace over the Capitol and White House. Photo: US News.

8:53 PM (ET) By DONNA CASSATA

WASHINGTON (AP) - A small plane strayed within three miles of the White House on Wednesday, leading to frantic evacuation of the Executive Mansion and the Capitol with military jets scrambling to intercept the aircraft and firing flares to steer it away.

A pilot and student pilot, en route from Pennsylvania to an air show in North Carolina, were taken into custody after their flight sparked a frenzy of activity that tested the capital's post-Sept. 11 response system.

The government decided not to press charges after interviewing the men and determining the incident was an accident. "They were navigating by sight and were lost," said Justice Department spokesman Kevin Madden.

Officials had been concerned because the plane appeared to be "on a straight-in shot toward the center of the Washington area," said Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer.

The White House raised its threat level to red - the highest - for eight minutes, said spokesman Scott McClellan. Vice President Dick Cheney, first lady Laura Bush and former first lady Nancy Reagan, overnighting at the White House for a special event, were moved to secure locations.

President Bush, biking with a high school friend at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Beltsville, Md., was unaware of the midday, 15-minute scare as it was occurring. His security detail knew of the raised threat level.

At the Capitol, lawmakers, tourists and reporters raced out of the building, dodging the speeding motorcades of Latin American leaders who had been meeting with members of Congress. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was hustled to a secure location. Police, rushing to get House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi out of the building, lifted her out of her shoes.

Armed security officers raced through the Capitol shouting for people to leave. "This is not a drill!" some yelled as they moved people away from the building. "There's a plane coming," warned another.

A guard at the White House told reporters who hadn't already left to "go down into the basement area."

At the Supreme Court, guards told some people to leave the building while others were shepherded into the underground parking garage, where Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor and Stephen Breyer were seen chatting. At Treasury, an announcement on the loudspeaker advised employees to move to a shelter.

The Defense and State departments were exceptions, with neither evacuated. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld remained at the Pentagon, where many were killed when terrorists crashed an airliner on Sept. 11, 2001. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conducted a television interview unaware of the plane.

City government buildings also weren't evacuated. Mayor Anthony Williams complained that city officials weren't told about the threat until the all-clear was sounded. "Critical and potentially life-or-death information about threats facing district residents needs to be shared immediately - not five, 10 or 15 minutes after the fact," Williams said.

The incident began at 11:28 a.m., when Federal Aviation Administration radar picked up the aircraft, a small two-seater Cessna 152 with high wings. Gainer said the first alert went out when the plane was 21 miles - 17 minutes - from the city.

One Black Hawk helicopter and one Citation jet were dispatched at 11:47 a.m. from Reagan National Airport. Two F-16 jet fighters, scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base, fired four warning flares when the Cessna's pilot did not respond to radio calls.

"If he wouldn't have responded, intentionally or not, he could have been shot down," said Master Sgt. John Tomassi of the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The plane then turned to the west and the warplanes escorted it to the airport in Frederick, Md., where the men aboard were taken into custody and questioned by Secret Service, FBI and local authorities.

The men were identified as Hayden Sheaffer, of Lititz, Pa., and Troy Martin, of Akron, Pa., according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The plane was registered to Vintage Aero Club, a group of people who fly from Smoketown Airport in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, said club member Merv King. Former club member John E. Henderson said the plane was to be flown by Sheaffer and Martin to an air show in Lumberton, N.C. Sheaffer confirmed he had been released by authorities but declined to comment further when reached on his cell phone by The Associated Press.

Martin's wife, Jill, said: "Troy was discussing with me last night after they made their flight plans all about the no-fly zones and how they were going to avoid them. He said they were going to fly between two different restricted areas."

Washington's Reagan National Airport has been closed to general aviation, the non-airline planes, since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In the 3 1/2 years since then, hundreds of small planes have flown within the restricted airspace around the capital - a 15 3/4-mile radius around the Washington Monument. However, it's rare for fighter jets to be scrambled in response.

In the most dramatic previous incident, thousands of people fled the Capitol, packed with members of Congress and other dignitaries, when a plane flew into the restricted airspace just before the funeral procession for President Reagan last June. A communications breakdown led federal officials to believe the plane might be targeting the Capitol, but it turned out to be carrying Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who had been cleared to fly into the area.
---
Associated Press writers Mark Scoloforo in Harrisburg, Pa., Erin Gartner in Denver and Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.


 

CT-Baptist Press: NC Baptist pastor leaves over generation gap, not politics - May 11

Compiled by Ted Olsen posted 05/11/5005 11:30 a.m.

Baptist Pastor Accused of Expelling Kerry Voters Claims he Quit over Older Members being Threatened by his New Converts
Christianity Today & Baptist Press

Nearly three dozen parishioners join Chan Chandler in exiting East Waynesville Baptist Church.

After national media attention over a confrontation with church members who supported Democrat John Kerry for President, East Waynesville (N.C.) Baptist Church pastor Chan Chandler resigned yesterday.

"For me to remain now would only cause more hurt for me and my family," he said at a special business meeting last night. "I am resigning with gratitude in my heart for all of you, particularly those of you who love me and my family."

"Remaining church members said they sat in silence for a long time after Chandler and 35 of his loyal followers left the sanctuary—a silence broken when one of the members stepped forward and began to play hymns on the piano," reports the Raleigh News & Observer. The paper says Chandler will continue his M.Div. studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Chandler didn't speak to the media, but his lawyer explained, "He feels like in light of everything that has taken place, instead of continuing to fight with the various factions, he feels it's in the best interest of everyone concerned that he resign."

Actually, Chandler did speak to one media outlet. Baptist Press scored a coup with its exclusive interview yesterday, before the pastor's resignation. But even Baptist Press had a hard time figuring out what really happened at the church:

As Baptist Press tried to clarify whether the nine people were in fact voted out of the church, Chandler said they initially left voluntarily. Since some of those who willingly forfeited their memberships were trustees of the church, other members thought it prudent to make their actions official.

Chandler said the church had undergone several months of disharmony, some of which he speculates was the result of his preaching about Christians' responsibility to be reflective of the Bible in the way that they vote. And more hesitatingly, he also speculated that, since the church had baptized almost 30 people and was growing under his leadership, then those who had been in church leadership positions for years may have felt threatened. …

[At a May 3 church meeting, Chandler told] those who were unhappy with him as pastor that if they could garner a simple majority against him, he'd leave, despite the bylaws provision that such a vote to terminate the pastor requires a two-thirds vote margin.

Chandler also said that if those who were dissatisfied with him couldn't garner a simple majority, then they should leave.

But did Chandler actually say that those who didn't vote for Bush should be expelled?

"I don't know how these folks voted," Chandler told Baptist Press. "And I never endorsed any candidate." But he does admit that he talked about the "unbiblical values" of John Kerry, particularly in regard to abortion and homosexuality. "I also mentioned two Republicans' names" as examples of those whose positions are unbiblical, Chandler said.

"But those were negative endorsements," he explained. There was "never a positive endorsement" of a candidate from the pulpit, he said. The closest he came was to encourage writing in a new name when none of the candidates on the ballot promoted biblical positions.

That may or may not be good advice, but it still violates the tax code and puts the church in danger of losing its tax-exempt status. The Internal Revenue Manual explains:

IRC 501(c)(3) precludes exemption for an organization that participates in or intervenes in (including the publishing or distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. This is an absolute prohibition, with no requirement that the activity be substantial. (Emphasis added.)

So by actually campaigning against Kerry from the pulpit, Chandler put his church's funds in danger. Apparently he didn't know he was doing so, but there you have it.

As it turns out, though, the debate is more about the new demographics of the congregation than it is about IRS standing.

"The storm that hit the church … divided it along generational lines," The News & Observer's Yonat Shimron explains. "Many of the older members are traditionally Democrats, though some have voted Republican in recent elections. Many of the newest and youngest members have always been Republicans. In this, the church reflected Southern voting habits that have dramatically embraced the Republican Party in recent decades."

Chandler, by the way, is 33. Those reportedly "kicked out" of the church are about twice his age, and they're not crazy about these kids today, what with their conservative ideas and such.

"A lot of these young people had not been in the church more than a year," Maxine Osborne, 70, told The News & Observer. Chandler and his wife, she said, "brought in a lot of young people, but they also brainwashed them."

Misty Turner (or Tucker, depending on the news source) seems to be one of the young 'uns.

"The only thing I want to say is that everything that's been in the press is a lie," she said. "I have never bowed down to Chan. I've only bowed down to the Lord." She's leaving. "I'm not going to serve where there are so many ungodly people."

Thirty-four others joined her in walking out of the church yesterday after Chandler's resignation.

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Conyers: Senate debate over filibuster is really about judicial independence

Rep. John Conyers, Jr., on Judicial Nominations, Partisanship and Preserving the Filibuster


... this debate is over the nature of our democracy and respect for the independent federal judiciary. For 200 years, the Senate has used the filibuster to protect the rights of the minority in Congress and prevent intensely divisive legislation from passing. The filibuster ... protect[s] our democracy from being captured by one party or faction controlling all the branches of government, precisely the situation we have today.

Over the past several weeks, we have seen unprecedented attacks on the independent judiciary by leading members of the Republican majority. Most of the public, however, may have missed earlier efforts of the majority to "capture" the courts through the arguable abuse of both legislative and executive authority. These attempts by the administration and Republicans in Congress threaten to debase permanently the courts and undermine the stability of our legal system for mere short-term political gain.

As was apparent from the message of Justice Sunday - a nationally televised Christian conservative political rally, the right-wing of the Republican party has made the appointment of judges the latest battle ground in the raging "culture" wars. The telecast's participants accused Democrats of using the filibuster to keep judges of a certain faith off the bench and essentially tarred their opponents as the enemies of God. The participation of Senator Frist in this event is troubling because the implication that any party or any senator would impose a litmus test against people of faith is not only wholly inaccurate, but irresponsible.

In reality, this debate is over the nature of our democracy and respect for the independent federal judiciary. For 200 years, the Senate has used the filibuster to protect the rights of the minority in Congress and prevent intensely divisive legislation from passing. The filibuster is part of a series of Senate rules designed to encourage compromise and protect our democracy from being captured by one party or faction controlling all the branches of government, precisely the situation we have today. With the administration's changes in longstanding consultative policies, the filibuster represents the final option in oversight by the legislative minority in the Senate. From the beginning, this administration closed the review process by eliminating pre-nomination review by the American Bar Association and consultation with the opposition party on appellate court nominations, as had been the policy of the Clinton administration. These decisions all but guaranteed controversy around certain nominations and politicized the process.

When you evaluate the record, it would seem that the administration should have little complaint. Senators have used the filibuster to block only 10 of President Bush's most extreme nominees and 204 have been confirmed. President Clinton's nominees faced a far different fate at the hands of these same senators, who used the tactics that they today propose to abandon. As a result of Republican obstructionism, 81 vacancies were left unfilled at the end of the Clinton administration, including 26 vacancies on the courts of appeals. The heaviest weight of these tactics fell on women and minorities. By the close of 1999, every nominee who was subjected to obstructionist hurdles, such as multiple Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings, was a woman or person of color. The bipartisan Constitution project of Georgetown University revealed that minority candidates for federal judgeships were twice as likely not to be confirmed as their white counterparts. Senator Jesse Helms, for example, blocked each of the four African-American judges nominated to integrate the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Missouri Supreme Court Justice Ronnie White was the victim of a racial double standard by former Senator and Attorney General John Ashcroft. Moreover, several other highly qualified women and minority nominees waited up to four years for a vote by the Senate. In the face of this apparent discrimination, there was never a suggestion that Senate rules be changed to remedy this disparity. Arguments that the proposed modification of the filibuster rule would erase its tainted racial history completely lack credibility because those authoring the change lack clean hands with respect to the issue.

The level of partisanship aimed at the federal courts over the last several years clearly threatens to undermine the institution. Judges already battered by controversies over pay, Congressional investigations and threats of impeachment over unpopular decisions have cried foul. Further, over 350 editorial boards, former Republican Senators, columnists and lawyers of every ideological stripe, and organizations from across the political spectrum have appealed to the Senate to step back from the "nuclear" brink on judicial nominations. The leaders in the Senate must come together to find a solution that will assure both that fair and responsible judges fill vacant judicial seats and that the filibuster remains available for use during the most extreme situations. If we expect people of integrity to lead our courts, the time has come for reason to prevail over partisanship. John Conyers, Jr.

May, 2005

Congressman John Conyers, Jr., is the second most senior person serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is also the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on the Judiciary and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

http://www.house.gov/conyers/index.htm
Click on the latest Abi-Demian, Democratic Party News: Abi-Demian .

 

Thorne: Judge Rules Separate Restrooms Unconstitutional - May 11

By Scott Ott
(2005-05-11) -- A San Francisco County judge, who last month struck down California's ban on homosexual marriage, today ruled on the same basis that separate restrooms for men and women are unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer likened the division of washrooms to laws requiring racial segregation in schools, and said there appears to be "no rational purpose for denying women access to men's facilities and vice versa."

"The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional," Judge Kramer wrote. "The court finds that the legal principle of lavatorio proportio [washroom parity] offers inadequate protections. In practice, it leaves women stranded in line while men swiftly accomplish their objectives. Beyond practicality, the idea that you can bar access to some citizens from restrooms which are open to others smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts -- separate but equal."

The decision was hailed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Organization for Women (NOW).

"This ruling offers recognition that men and women are not only equal, but identical," said a spokesman at a joint ACLU-NOW news conference. "The bigoted era of sex descrimination is over. From now on, the United States is one gender, under God, indivisible."

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


 

AP-ABC: Bush Tbilisi Speech Likely to Antagonize Russia - May 11

The Associated Press
By MARA D. BELLABY

TBILISI, Georgia May 11, 2005 — President Bush brought no firm promises to help this former Soviet state wrench itself free from Russia's influence, but he had ringing words of support for Georgia's young democracy and aspirations to join NATO.

Some of those words are likely to antagonize the Kremlin, including a slap at Russia's support for rogue governments in two separatist regions of Georgia. To the delight of the huge audience, Bush offered to "make a phone call or two if needed" presumably to Moscow to help Georgia work out its problems with the breakaway provinces.

But Bush stopped short of offering concrete help in getting Russia to withdraw two military bases and said the United States cannot impose a solution on the separatist issue. He also hinted at the difficult tasks ahead, warning his Georgian hosts that "building a free society is the work of generations."

ABC-AP full story.

 

Fw: Anonymous post to Demlog about "democracy" - May 11

 
<< One wonders why President Bush is so vocal fomenting Democracy in the Middle East and former Communist countries, and not in his own country...>>

Probably, Dave, because we've been a democratic republic for well over 200 years?

Just because you do not like how the majority of Americans voted doesn't mean the process was negated or compromised.. no matter have strongly you beleive it.
 
-C.Y.

--
Posted by C.Y. to Demlog at 5/11/2005 09:10:19 AM
 
D.H. reply:
 
As those who have been following this thread of blogs know -- there have been jabs by Bush and Putin against each other leading up to Bush's visit to Russia, dealing with alleged flaws in Democracy in each other's countries.  Putin had some good points about how Bush tries to export Democracy elsewhere, but doesn't do too well with it in his own country.  Putin cited examples like Bush winning in 2000 despite having less votes than Al Gore and because of the non-democratic Electoral College and a U.S. Supreme Court decision. 
 
Putin didn't mention -- but easily could have -- the numerous voting irregularities in the 2004 voting, and the widespread efforts by the Republicans to suppress minority and other Democrat-leaning voters.
 
There never has been a credible determination whether the 2004 election was "negated or compromised," and it is not a matter of how strong my personal beliefs are.

 

WashPost editorial: Be careful about judicial reform - May 11

Wednesday, Page A16

Clarity for the Judiciary

HOUSE JUDICIARY Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) packed a lot of ideas -- good, bad and interesting -- into a brief speech on the judiciary at Stanford University this week. The chairman addressed such controversial topics as impeaching judges, splitting the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, judicial ethics, the use of foreign law in American courts and the creation of an inspector general for the judiciary. Given the recent crude attacks on judges by prominent conservatives, Mr. Sensenbrenner's remarks deserve attention -- but also call for clarification.

On the positive side, Mr. Sensenbrenner decisively rejected the notion that Congress should respond to cases such as the Terri Schiavo matter "by attempting to neuter the courts" through the impeachment of judges. Judicial independence has no meaning if Congress reserves the right to remove judges from the bench when it disagrees with their opinions. Having a Judiciary Committee chairman who understands that, particularly in the current climate, is important.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sensenbrenner did not forswear all retaliation against judges. Even in rejecting impeachment, he warned ominously, "This does not mean that judges should not be punished in some capacity for behavior that does not rise to the level of impeachable conduct." Moreover, he reserved the right to tinker with the courts' jurisdiction, noting that "the lower federal courts function with Congress's blessing."

An aide to Mr. Sensenbrenner says that he did not mean to suggest punishing judges for their opinions, rather that he was talking about the need to enhance the process for adjudicating judicial ethics complaints. Mr. Sensenbrenner rightly has been concerned for some time about the anemic judicial ethics process. It is critical, however, that he distinguish clearly -- as his speech does not -- between punishing judges for unethical or improper behavior and punishing judges for issuing opinions with which he disagrees.

By the same token, Mr. Sensenbrenner needs to clarify his idea for an inspector general within the judiciary. As long as such a person reports to the chief justice, not to Congress or the executive branch, such an office could conceivably serve a useful oversight function. But it is not clear that the courts need an inspector general. Other agencies have them to investigate claims of waste, fraud and abuse; this is hardly the concern that animates current conservative anxiety about the courts. And it should be unthinkable for any such office to be empowered to address the matters that do rankle the right -- that is, the way judges handle cases and the substance of what they rule. The appropriate remedy for an errant opinion, in the American constitutional system, is not an investigation but an appeal.

 

BBC: Zellweger marries Kenny Chesney in Virgin Islands

Renee Zellweger

May 11--Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger has released a photograph of her surprise beach wedding to country singer Kenny Chesney.

The pair wed on the Virgin Island of St John, where Chesney lives, in front of close friends and family on Monday.

Zellweger, 36, and Chesney, 37, reportedly met in January at a tsunami benefit concert.

The Bridget Jones actress wore a strapless off-white dress from designer Carolina Herrera.

Chesney walked barefoot on the private beach and wore his trademark Stetson hat, which he wears when he performs.

The couple held their wedding reception at Chesney's gated mansion.

Chesney is one of the US' biggest country stars, with two albums in the country top 10 chart.

His 1999 hit You Had Me From Hello was inspired by a line uttered by Zellweger in her breakthrough film Jerry Maguire.

Among the prophetic lyrics were "and you were in my future as far as I could see" and "You completely stole my heart".

It was the first marriage for both.


 

Yahoo: Corey Clark claims "explicit" evidence about Abdul

Eonline Photo

He may have been mocked on Saturday Night Live but former American Idol wannabe Corey Clark is making it clear that his allegations about his affair with Paula Abdul are no laughing matter. (At least not to him.)


 

Miami Herald: Jim Morin cartoon of Bush & Putin - "buddies"


 

Slate: Huffington's blog opens to mixed reviews - May 11

'First impression:
http://slate.msn.com/id/2118321/.

Second:
http://slate.msn.com/id/2118474/.

Sample comments from second:

Huff 'n' puff: Yesterday, unsuccessful California gubernatorial candidate Arianna Huffington debuted her new Web site, the Huffington Post, as a platform where her celebrity friends (such as John Cusack, Ellen Degeneres, and Quincy Jones) can hold forth on culture and politics. Bloggers had a field day mocking the site. (Here's the inevitable parody.) The L.A. Weekly's Nikki Finke announces, "Her blog is such a bomb that it's the box-office equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate rolled into one."


 

Bartels: 95% of Americans do better under Democratic presidents - May 11

Source: http://demookie.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=16955

Princeton's Larry Bartels did a study showing this:

http://www.princeton.edu/~bartels/income.pdf

The first thing Bartels did was break down economic performance by income class. The unsurprising result is shown in the chart below:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/blogphotos/Blog_Bartels_1.gif

Under Democratic presidents, every income class did well but the poorest did best. The bottom 20% had average pretax income growth of 2.63% per year, while the top 5% showed pretax income growth of 2.11% per year.

Republicans were polar opposites. Not only was their overall performance worse than Democrats, but it was wildly tilted toward the well off. The bottom 20% saw pretax income growth of only .6% per year while the top 5% enjoyed pretax income growth of 2.09% per year. (What's more, the trendline is pretty clear: if the chart were extended to show the really rich -- the top 1% and the top .1% -- the Republican growth numbers for them would be higher than the Democratic numbers.) In other words, Republican presidents produce poor economic performance because they're obsessed with helping the well off. Their focus is on the wealthiest 5%, and the numbers show it.

At least 95% of the country does better under Democrats.

http://demlog.blogspot.com.


 

Slate: Today's papers - Orange You Smart - May 11

By Eric Umansky - posted 2:56 a.m., CDT

According to late reports caught by the Los Angeles Times, three bombs this morning in Iraq have killed a total of about 60 people, mostly civilians, and wounded about 100. In the two biggest attacks, about 30 people were killed outside a political office in Tikrit and roughly another 20 died at a police recruiting site near the tinderbox northern city of Kirkuk. (The LAT off-leads the bombings.)

The Washington Post leads with the Senate giving final passage to yet another war supplemental, this one $82 billion. The military said that should take care of everything...until about October when another patch-job may be required. There is typically less congressional oversight for supplementals. "We all know what's being done," said Senator John McCain. "There's greater and greater resistance." The New York Times leads with China dissing the U.S. and saying it's not interested in playing hardball with North Korea, which has been making noise recently about testing a nuke. Not everyone is convinced China is sitting tight. "The Chinese may be feigning indifference," said one former Clinton administration official. "I believe in private they are putting pressure on the North Koreans not to test because a test would be deeply antithetical to their interests in the region." USA Today leads with former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge saying his agency wasn't behind most of the Orange alerts. "More often than not we were the least inclined to raise" the hue, Ridge told a forum in D.C. "There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' " The LAT leads with a bankruptcy judge saying United Airlines shouldn't fret about fulfilling its federally-backed employee pension plan, the government will pick up the tab. It will be the largest pension default in three decades.


To continue reading, click here.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com.

 

CNN: Grenade near Bush at Tbilisi, Georgia speech 'was inactive' - May 11

story.bushwave.ap.jpg

Posted: 5:11 AM EDT (0911 GMT)

TBILISI, Georgia (CNN) -- A grenade found near the site where U.S. President George W. Bush made a speech in Tblisi was an inactive Soviet-era device, Georgian officials said Wednesday.

Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Guram Donadze described the device as a "non-combative" grenade used in military training and said it did not contain explosives.

The device was placed in the crowd about 200 feet from where Bush was speaking. It was not thrown, as was previously believed, Donadze said.

It never posed a danger to Bush and was apparently placed by someone who wanted to scare people in the crowd and attract media attention, Donadze said.

Georgian officials alerted U.S. officials about the incident several hours after Bush left the former Soviet republic, U.S. Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said.

Bush's speech there was his last before returning to the U.S.

In Tuesday's speech, Bush told a crowd of tens of thousands that Georgia is proving to the world that determined people can rise up and claim their freedom from oppressive rulers.

Bush's speech was the last event of his five-day, four-nation tour marking the end of World War II in Europe.

"Your most important contribution is your example," Bush said, speaking in Freedom Square, site of protests in November 2003 of the so-called Rose Revolution that put President Mikhail Saakashvili in power.

"Before there was a Purple Revolution in Iraq or an Orange Revolution in Ukraine or a Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, there was a Rose Revolution in Georgia," Bush said.

"You gathered here armed with nothing but roses and the power of your convictions and you claimed your liberty," he said.

"Because you acted, Georgia is today both sovereign and free and a beacon of liberty for this region and the world."

The president also noted that maintaining democracy was hard work. "The path is not easy," Bush said, pledging that Georgians "will not travel it alone."

"The American people will stand with you," he said.

Georgia is widely viewed as helping lead the way for other former Soviet republics to turn away from Moscow and focus more of their efforts on building alliances with the West.

______________________________

CNN White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano and CNN Congressional Correspondent Ed Henry contributed to this report.

Full story: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/05/11/bush.georgia/

D.H.: One wonders why President Bush is so vocal fomenting Democracy in the Middle East and former Communist countries, and not in his own country -- a point that Russian President Putin made very vociferously.

Click here for similar stories: http://demlog.blogspot.com.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

 

AP-Yahoo: GOP Faces Division Over Role of Government - May 10

Tue May 10, 5:10 PM ET

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Republicans tend to agree that government's role in Americans' lives should be limited, but issues like the Terri Schiavo case have exposed cracks in GOP unity, pitting traditional conservatives against those who intervened on her behalf, according to a polling analysis.

"Opinions on the role of government, a defining feature of conservative philosophy for decades, are now among the most divisive for the GOP," said the study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Democrats are facing their own divisions over cultural values, religion and social beliefs, according to the study. One issue, whether or not to back gay marriages, is creating serious differences among Democrats.

The conflict within the GOP was evident in the case of Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged Florida woman who died after her feeding tube was removed. President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress intervened in a failed effort to keep her alive.

A majority of Americans opposed the move, including Republicans, characterizing it as the government overreaching into an individual's personal life.

Based on an extensive survey, Pew described Republicans as belonging to three main groups: "social conservatives," "pro-government conservatives" and a highly patriotic, pro-business group described as "enterprisers."

The GOP tension over government activism extends to issues such as the environment, guaranteed health care and aid to the poor, said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center.

The analysis divided Democrats into "liberals," "the disadvantaged" and "conservative Democrats." Liberals have gained strength within the Democratic base, possibly as moderate Democrats have been pushed toward the GOP.

The study found that the Republican Party is perceived as "doing a better job of standing up for its core issues," Kohut said. At the same time, "liberals are particularly negative about the Democrats," he said.

The poll found former President Clinton is the most popular Democrat — with almost two-thirds of the public viewing him positively — and his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, ranks at the top of possible 2008 nominees for her party. Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are the Republicans at the top of the public's 2008 GOP list.

The Pew study of political groups is based on two polls. The first was taken Dec. 1-16 of 2,000 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The second was taken March 17-27 of 1,090 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

On the Net:

Pew Research Center political study — http://www.typology.people-press.org

Pew Research Center — http://www.people-press.org

AP source.

 

AP: Race-riot survivors brief Congressional Black Caucus - May 10

Survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race riots, Otis Granville Clark, 102, left, acknowledges the introduction, as fellow survivors, Dr. Olivia Hooker, 90, right, and Wess Young, 88, second left, and his wife, Cathryn Young, second right, give their applause at the start of a briefing before members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other leaders on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 10, 2005, in Washington. After being silenced for more than half a century, survivors of one of our nation's worst incidents of racial violence finally get the chance to tell their stories to America's lawmakers. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) May 10 2:59 PM


 

Slate: Yalta history lesson - The history behind current events - May 10

By David Greenberg

Know Thy AlliesChurchill, FDR & Stalin --
What Bush got wrong about Yalta - agreement among FDR, Churchill & Stalin, shown at right.

Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2005, at 10:23 AM PT

After World War I, the political right in Germany developed a myth called the "stab in the back" theory to explain its people's defeat. Though military leaders had helped negotiate the war's end, they fixed blame on civilian leaders -- especially Jews, socialists, and liberals -- for "betraying" the brave German fighting men. This nasty piece of propaganda was later picked up by Hitler and the Nazis to stoke the populist resentment that fueled their rise to power.

America has had its own "stab in the back" myths. Last year, George W. Bush endorsed a revanchist view of the Vietnam War: that our political leaders undermined our military and denied us victory. Now, on his Baltic tour, he has endorsed a similar view of the Yalta accords, that great bugaboo of the old right.

Bush stopped short of accusing Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill of outright perfidy, but his words recalled those of hardcore FDR- and Truman-haters circa 1945. "The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history."

Continue Article.

D.H.: The article goes on to explain that Yalta did not betray Poland into Communist hands, because the USSR was already in control in Poland, and Eisenhower's armies were all the way across Germany from Poland and in no position to run the Russians off. Thus the Yalta accords were the best that Churchill and FDR could negotiate with Stalin.

David Greenberg writes the "History Lesson" column and teaches at Rutgers University. He is the author of Nixon's Shadow: The History of an Image.

Photograph of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis.

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