.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

 

AP-Dean: DeLay's corrupt - May 28

By RON FOURNIER -- AP Political Writer

Dean Still Says DeLay May Deserve Jail

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean, who famously refused to prejudge Osama bin Laden's guilt, is standing by his judgment that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay may deserve jail time for allegations of corruption.

"Tom DeLay is corrupt. No question about it," Dean said Friday. "This is a guy who shouldn't be in Congress and maybe ought to be serving in jail."

The House ethics committee is investigating whether DeLay violated congressional rules by taking foreign trips paid for by lobbyists. The Texas Republican has not been charged with a crime, but Dean said he would not apologize for saying earlier this month that DeLay "ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence."

Asked whether he was rushing to judgment, the former Vermont governor said with a laugh, "I got in trouble because I wouldn't convict Osama bin Laden. Maybe I've learned something."

Full AP story.


 

AP: Clinton cancels - May 28

 
By SHIMALI SENANAYAKE, Associated Press Writer
18 minutes agoClinton
 
Exhausted Clinton Cancels Tour of Devastated areas of Maldives
 

MALE, Maldives - Former President Clinton has canceled his trip to tsunami-hit areas of Maldives because of exhaustion, a U.N. official said Saturday.

Cherie Hart, spokesman for the U.N. Development Program and coordinator of Clinton's visit, said the former president, who underwent a heart bypass operation in September, was not sick. In March, surgeons successfully removed fluid and scar tissue from his chest cavity.

"He's plain pooped and he wants to slow the schedule down," Hart said.

Clinton, recently appointed U.N. special envoy for tsunami recovery, will keep his scheduled appointments in the Maldives but will not tour areas devastated by December's giant wave, Hart said.

The former president's spokesman said Clinton was "doing fine."

"The staff is exhausted but he's doing fine," Jim Kennedy said, adding that Clinton would continue with four meetings and a press availability in the Maldives on Sunday, and then go to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on Monday.

Full AP-Yahoo story.


 

AP: Captain injured

Police Capt Iraq
 
Iraqi Police Capt. Hassan Razaq lies injured in hospital following Friday's car bomb attack in Tikrit 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad in Iraq, Saturday, May 28, 2005. The attack left two civilians dead and 18 wounded, including six police officers. (AP Photo/Bassem Daham)
 

 

AFP: Car-bomb crater

Bomb crater
An Iraqi man looks at a car-bomb crater May 28, 2005.
 
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The crater was left following a car bomb the previous night in the northern city of Tikrit, the hometown of ousted president Saddam Hussein.
 
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Six Iraqis including members of the fledgling security forces were killed when three suicide car bombs exploded in quick succession at an army base in the north of the country, police said.
 
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(AFP/Dia Hamid)
 

 

Next Book Club June 28th

The next meeting of the Taylor County Democratic Book Club will be Tuesday, June 28th at 7 pm at the Democratic Headquarters, 453 Pine Street, Abilene, about the following book:

Critical Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business--and Bad Medicine
by Donald L. Barlett, James B. Steele - available at Amazon.com.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly:

Bestselling investigative journalists Barlett and Steele (America: What Went Wrong?) deliver a devastating indictment, supported by excellent research, of a health-care system that they say is failing to provide first-rate services to its citizens, 44 million of whom are without insurance. According to these Pulitzer Prize–winning reporters, now with Time magazine, the U.S. compares poorly with other Westernized nations in delivering quality care and a healthy life expectancy, and preventing infant mortality. Per capita health-care spending continues to exceed the amount spent by many other countries, the authors say, because one out of every three U.S. dollars pays for administrative costs. The authors also present case histories of patients, some with life-threatening conditions, who were ignored by bureaucratic HMOs that put profit first. Barlett and Steele describe how health care first became driven by profits on Wall Street during the Reagan administration. Competing insurance plans, they say, led not to better choices for consumers, but to physicians who are prevented by insurers from prescribing needed treatments; a severe shortage of nurses; and unsafe hospitals where staff shortages and unsanitary conditions result from cost-cutting. The authors, who strongly advocate a single payer plan, successfully depict a health-care system in crisis.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Here's another review......

It's funny that in this political season there is not much attention being paid to this book. Because this is exactly what the candidates should be paying attention to. As a life long conservative I could never have imagined rating this book highly, but it speaks the truth. The authors discuss the present day health care system, and where the present "market driven" emphasis has brought us as a nation. And truthfully, as we all know, it's not good. The authors lay out simple facts that we all know, but for some reason, strike us as incredible. For example, why is it that in the richest and most powerful nation that the world has ever known, is it necessary for parents to have to hold fundraisers and garage sales to finance the medical treatments that their children need to survive. We have all seen it, but have we ever actually thought about it? That's what this book does. It makes us look at what has become ordinary in this country, and ask why? What good is it to be the richest and most powerful country on Earth, if we can't take care of our children or our parents without having to go into bankruptcy, or holding a bake sale to finance necessary medical care. This is an eye-opening book about the sad state of our health care system. Please read this book and think about it. What makes a country great? Is it the flag, or the military? Or is it the way a country takes care of its people? Or the way the people take care of each other. It's funny, but I always would spout out the rhetoric that we had the best health care on earth, but this book made me think. Do we? And I think we all know the answer; no. And why don't we? We should, shouldn't we?

 

CST: Bush media charade

BY DEBRA PICKETT CHICAGO SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

Press freedom's just another word for dodging tough questions

On Monday, President Bush stood beside Afghan President Hamid Karzai for a "Joint Press Availability."

Asked if the Iraqi insurgency was getting more difficult to defeat militarily, Bush answered with a classic Dubya-ism.

"No, I don't think so," he said, "I think they're being defeated. And that's why they continue to fight."

It's the sort of answer that makes you pause and scratch your head for just long enough to give him a chance to change the subject. He's quite masterful at doing this, which made me wonder if he hadn't taken Karzai aside before the press conference and whispered in his ear, "Listen, Hammie, these reporters are tricky. You better let me handle 'em. I've got 'em wrapped around my finger with this whole newspeak war-is-peace idea Karl found in some book from the 1980s."

But Bush's Orwellian logic -- good for only a cynical chuckle -- was definitely not the comic high point of the afternoon. Instead, for sheer free press-thwarting brilliance, Karzai easily won the day.

After the two men made some opening remarks, talking about the glories of bringing democracy to Afghanistan, Bush announced, "And in the spirit of the free press, we'll answer a couple of questions."

The first question dealt with the military's treatment of Afghan prisoners of war. It was full of facts and details and built-in follow-ups, so you could tell the reporter asking it would probably never get called on again. And, after this rocky start, Bush decided to let the American reporters cool their heels for a while.

"Somebody from the Afghan press?" he asked next.

There was an awkward silence, which Karzai gamely tried to fill in by asking, "Anybody from the Afghan press? Do we have an Afghan press?"

Then he spotted the single reporter his government had permitted to travel outside Afghanistan.

"Oh, here he is," Karzai said, as the room filled with the not-quite-warm laughter of people who suspect they might actually be the butt of a joke but aren't sure.

It turned out, National Public Radio journalist David Greene reported later, there were nine other Afghan reporters who were to have followed Karzai on his U.S. visit but, at the last minute, the Karzai government decided to withhold their travel permits for fear the journalists might try to escape their troubled homeland.

Bush seemed genuinely surprised that the Afghan reporters weren't there -- American journalists had been asked to fill in their empty seats -- so it seems that Karzai forgot to mention to his good friend that the whole free press thing has a slightly different meaning in the burgeoning democracy that is Afghanistan.

I imagine they had a pretty good laugh about that one.

And I bet Bush was jealous.

Rest of the Chicago Sun-Times article.

D.H.: The rest of this article is well worth reading, even if it's not on the subject of Bush's press charades.  It's subtitled "Making a grown man cry," and it has to do with "whether Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) was crying or just fighting back tears as he spoke on the Senate floor on Wednesday. But either way, he was obviously very emotional as he begged his Republican colleagues to reconsider their party line support of John Bolton, the Bush nominee for ambassador to the United Nations."

The piece explains how this Republican senator is being pressured and villified for standing up to the president on the Bolton nomination.


 

Reuters: Flawed-WMD analysts get bonuses

File photo shows U.S. President George W. Bush meeting with members of his national security team March 31, 2005, at the White House to discuss the findings of a report regarding weapons of mass destruction. Photo by Reuters.
 
Bush meeting
 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. Army analysts whose work was cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq have received job performance awards for the past three years, The Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The civilian analysts work at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center, an agency criticized by President Bush's commission investigating U.S. intelligence.

Ahead of the U.S. attack on Iraq, the analysts concluded it was unlikely that aluminum tubes sought by Baghdad were for use in Iraq's rocket arsenal. The Bush administration used that finding as evidence that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding Iraq's nuclear weapons program, the paper said.

The intelligence commission said the analysts failed to seek or get information from the Energy Department and elsewhere indicating the tubes were the kind used as rocket-motor cases by the Iraqi military.

A Pentagon spokesman said the awards to the analysts were to recognize their overall contributions on the job.

But some unnamed current and formal officials said granting such awards shows how the administration has not held people accountable for mistakes on prewar intelligence, the paper wrote.

Source: Yahoo-Reuters.

 


 

Reuters: Japan PM on killing

Japanese PMJapanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, shown here, speaks to reporters in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo May 28, 2005.
 
Japanese media reported that a militant group has released new statement and footage via a website saying they have killed Japanese citizen Akihiko Saito.
 
Saito was captured in an ambush in Iraq earlier this month. The younger brother of Saito said early today that a dead body shown in Internet footage posted by an Islamic militant group, Army of Ansar al-Sunna, was of his brother.
 
REUTERS/Kyodo
 
 

 

AP: Rehnquist to go?

Path Cleared for Chief Justice's Retirement

RehnquistBy GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer - Saturday, 2:59 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, shown here leaving his home in March, may feel freer to step down with the Senate judicial standoff muted and the Supreme Court weeks away from the end of its term.

"There's just no better time for Rehnquist to leave than now, from a political standpoint," said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University who worked in the administration of Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush.

Rehnquist, 80, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last fall, but he has released few details about his illness and no clues about his future plans.

A departure makes sense now, McGinnis said, because Republicans risk losing Senate seats in elections next year. In addition, he said, Bush's victory over Democrat John Kerry last fall eased friction over the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that tipped the 2000 election to Bush.  Rehnquist, a Republican, sided with Bush in the 2000 case. If he steps down, he can expect the White House to choose a conservative successor.

"Rehnquist probably feels it's about as good of a time to retire as any," said Joel Grossman, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University. Rehnquist and other justices were likely following with interest developments in the Senate debate over judicial confirmations, he said.

Washington attorney Chuck Cooper, a former Rehnquist clerk, said the chief justice "is extremely politically savvy" and probably recognizes that any high court retirement will prompt a bitter partisan clash in the Senate.

"If anybody was hoping a [filibuster] agreement would grease the skids for a Supreme Court vacancy, I don't think that happened," said Stephen Wermiel, an American University law professor.

And Wermiel said while a Rehnquist departure seems more likely than not — creating the court's first vacancy in a modern era record 11 years — one mystery in the calculation is how sick Rehnquist is. The chief justice has revealed that he received radiation and chemotherapy, treatment that is generally used for the most aggressive type of thyroid cancer.

On Monday, Rehnquist was seen in a wheelchair at the Capitol medical office, but no explanation was given for the visit. In March he was taken by ambulance to a hospital after developing a problem with the tracheotomy tube that helps him breathe.

His only public events are brief open sessions of the court, scheduled once a week through the end of June for justices to announce opinions in the 29 cases that are still pending. Subjects still to be addressed include medical marijuana and displays of the Ten Commandments on public property.

The court's last scheduled meeting day is for its current session is June 27, but justices will likely meet a second time that week to dispose of the final difficult cases.

Full AP-Yahoo story.


 

NYT: McCain-Bolton

McCain supports compromise on secret documents on Bolton

New York Times
May. 28, 2005 12:01 AM

WASHINGTON - One of John Bolton's leading Republican backers, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, signaled his support on Friday for a compromise in which the White House might allow Senate leaders access to highly classified documents in return for a final vote on Bolton's nomination as U.N. ambassador early next month.

But the White House showed no sign that the administration might change course.

"The Democrats who are clamoring for this have already voted against John Bolton," said Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman. "This is about partisan politics, not documents. They have the information they need."
 
McCain reiterated support for Bolton on Fox News. Senators calling on the administration to share the documents "have some substance to their argument," McCain said.

"I think that we can resolve this over the recess and get this thing done and get John Bolton to work," he said. "I'm sorry there is going to be a delay."
Full AZ-Central Article.

 

Slate: Anti-nuke flaws - May 28

today's papers -- A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers
Nuclear (Nonproliferation Treaty) Meltdown
By Alexander Barnes Dryer
Posted Saturday, at 3:41 AM PT

The New York Times leads with the unsuccessful conclusion of a monthlong United Nations conference on strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The conference was hampered by American intransigence on disarmament and international disagreement on a response to North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs. Talks went so poorly that some officials are speculating that the treaty itself may have been damaged. The Los Angeles Times also leads with nuke talks (at least online). Its story emphasizes the extent to which the United States alienated the other participants. While the meeting was underway, for example, the Bush administration was pushing Congress to fund a new "bunker buster" nuke. The Washington Post's top non-local story reveals that two Army analysts responsible for a deeply flawed evaluation of Iraq's weapons capability have received performance bonuses for the last three years. President Bush's panel on intelligence failures concluded that the analysts' work on aluminum tubes at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center represented a "serious lapse in analytic tradecraft;" the article links the bonuses to other examples of the administration's refusal to hold anyone accountable for pre-war mistakes.

The LAT fronts a good summary of new moves by the United States to further isolate North Korea. Even seemingly innocuous programs, such as an effort to recover remains from the Korean War, are being cancelled. The piece is an excellent companion to the nonproliferation story--it offers compelling evidence that Washington may be headed for a showdown with Pyongyang over the question of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.

Whether any military confrontation is possible while U.S. troops remain in Iraq is an open question, of course. But another LAT piece suggests that the insurgency may suffer a major setback if reports that insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been seriously wounded pan out. (TP profiled Zarqawi back in June.)

The NYT fronts mostly domestic news today. The paper has an excellent report on the latest scandal to hit the GOP. Tom DeLay may get all the national attention as the poster boy for ethical problems in the party, but at least in Ohio, Representative Thomas Noe is a much more controversial figure. Noe, a congressman and prolific fundraiser, has connections to nearly every figure in the Buckeye State's Republican Party. He's also at the center of a growing controversy stemming from a $50 million investment the state pension group made into a rare coin fund he controls. Up to $13 million of that money may be missing, and Noe's former allies are turning on him. The investigations of Noe are multiplying, but it remains to be seen whether he is guilty of any wrongdoing.

Another financial scandal--one that will be of far more interest to the society set--also makes the front page of the NYT. The paper has all the details on the apparent downfall of arts patron Alberto Vilar, who was arrested on Thursday. Vilar is charged with defrauding a client of $5 million; he allegedly used the cash to meet some of his charitable pledges and to pay for some basic needs ($255.56 went to repair his dishwasher). The story seems destined for cinematic treatment in the pages of New York magazine.

A compelling profile in the Post examines the lives and work of a group of volunteers helping a Sri Lankan village recover from the tsunami. Derided as "tsunami tourists" by professional relief workers, thousands of volunteers have headed to South Asia since December and despite their inexperience are managing to help recovery efforts in small yet important ways.

The Post digs into the increasingly popular "interest-only" mortgages. The mortgages, which are especially common in areas with sharply rising housing prices, allow individuals to save money by delaying paying back the principal on their loans for several years. Unfortunately, the loans are only a safe bet in a market with appreciating prices; economists are getting worried about a down market's impact on the loans.

The LAT has some potentially bad news for the 30 million men who have taken Viagra or other similar drugs. The FDA is investigating reports that the impotence pills may cause eye damage. No definitive relationship between the drugs and eye problems has been established, however, and doctors report that many men are happy to accept the risk.

Finally, podcasting makes the NYT front page with a mostly fluffy piece on alternative audio tours for museums and the LAT has the latest on the Michael Jackson trial.

Alexander Barnes Dryer is a former Slate intern. Source - Slate.


Friday, May 27, 2005

 

Reuters: Condi interrupted - May 27

 
Demonstrators interrupted a speech by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, shown here, on May 27 2005Rice-Condi by recreating an image of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in which a hooded prisoner stood with his arms outstretched attached to electric wires.
 
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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice smiles while attending a press conference held by President George W. Bush and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Rose Garden at the White House, May 26, 2005.
 
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Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
 
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D.H.:  The protestors were arrested and removed.
 
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BN: UN nuke meet fails - May 27

UN Group
The 2005 review conference, shown here, of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a monthlong meeting held once every five years to take stock of the landmark accord
 
UN Nuclear Treaty Review Ending in Failure, Japanese Envoy Says
 
NEW YORK/UNITED NATIONS Friday - A United Nations review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is ending in failure today, according to a Japanese delegate who said there is no agreement on new steps toward disarmament or measures to block nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.
 
``We lost an opportunity to send out important messages on issues such as North Korea, Iran and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,'' Japanese envoy Mine Yoshiki told reporters at the UN. ``Some countries put the emphasis on nonproliferation, some on disarmament, and we could not get any agreement.''
 
Bloomberg News full story.

 

Reuters: Bush at Annapolis - May 27

Bush & MidshipmanU.S. President George W. Bush waves alongside a graduating Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy graduation ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland May 27, 2005.
 
Bush on Friday told United States Naval Academy graduates that the U.S. military had brought freedom to Afghanistan and Iraq and was winning the war against terrorism.
 
Bush last gave the commencement address at the Naval Academy in 2001, just months before the Sept. 11 attacks that were followed by the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.
 
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

 

AAS: Viagra & assaults - May 27

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Two sex offenders attack again after receiving Viagra

At least two of the 191 registered sex offenders who received sex-enhancing drugs at taxpayer expense committed new sex crimes after they were prescribed the medication, state officials confirmed today.

In all, they said, taxpayers spent $134,732 in six years to supply the sex offenders with Viagra and other erectile-dysfunction drugs — including $8,115 for six in Austin.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, at a late-morning news conference, said the new revelations underscore the importance of banning sex offenders from receiving the sex drugs. Other state officials moved swiftly to do that on Monday after Abbott confirmed that Texas sex offenders had been receiving the drugs.

Full A.A.S. article.


 

Slate-Today's Papers: Quran, Bolton, Abbas, TRMPAC - May 27

-----
By Daniel Politi
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005, at 3:10 AM PT

The Washington Post leads with Pentagon officials announcing the preliminary results of an ongoing investigation that has found five instances of the Quran being mishandled in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by military guards and an interrogator. Four of the cases seem to have taken place before January 2003 when a procedure was written up on how to properly handle the Quran. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal lead with Senate Democrats forcing a delay on John R. Bolton's nomination to be United Nations ambassador by refusing to end debate. Democrats are requesting the White House relinquish classified documents about Bolton that the Bush administration has refused to provide the Senate. All the papers, except USA Today, front the delay and emphasize how this could compromise the fragile agreement reached by Democrats and Republicans on Monday regarding the filibuster of judicial nominees. USAT leads with, and is the only paper that fronts, the latest plan by the Iraqi government to station 40,000 soldiers and police officers in Baghdad's streets, which will be the largest security operation ever launched in the city. By next week, as part of "Operation Lightning," Iraqi forces, with the aid of U.S. troops, will have set up 675 checkpoints around the city. During the news conference to announce this latest plan, Iraq's interior minister confirmed that insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi had been injured, but he refused to say how he knew this information.

Pentagon investigators looked into 13 allegations that the Quran had been treated improperly and determined that eight of them were unfounded. Out of the five cases of Quran mishandling that Pentagon officials identified, which all the papers except USAT front, three were labeled as probably deliberate, while two were probably accidental. The general in charge of the investigation made a point of emphasizing that they had found "no credible evidence" that a guard flushed a Quran down the toilet. The general said they interviewed the detainee who, according to an FBI report, had raised the issue of a Quran being flushed, and they determined his account lacked credibility, although he was never specifically asked about the incident.

The WP and LAT front the meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and President Bush at the White House, the first time the Palestinian leader has gone to the White House since he took office in January. Although Bush did not give Abbas a written letter of support, like he gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004, he did offer up $50 million in direct aid. Both of the papers emphasize the differences between Bush's warm demeanor and praise for Abbas with his refusal to meet with the former leader of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat. The WSJ says the meeting illustrated how Bush walks a "tightrope" while trying to "engineer peace in the region, a situation in which he is less a quarterback than a cheerleader."

The WP is alone in fronting a ruling by a Texas judge that determined the treasury of a political action committee formed by Rep. Tom DeLay broke campaign finance laws when it failed to report contributions. Texans for a Republican Majority helped Republicans gain control of the Texas House in 2002. The judge, who did not name DeLay in the decision, failed to determine whether the contributions themselves, rather than just the failure to disclose them, were also illegal. There is still a criminal trial pending relating to the PAC, as well as at least two other civil cases.

Rest of the Slate article.


 

CNN: DeLay attacks NBC - May 27

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Friday, Posted: 3:03 AM EDT (0703 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, shown here, story.delay.ap.jpgreacted angrily Thursday to this week's episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" for what he called a "manipulation of my name" in the show.

The show's executive producer responded by accusing DeLay of trying to change "the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a TV show."

The controversy centers around Wednesday's episode in which a police officer investigating a murder of a federal judge suggested putting out an all points bulletin for "somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt."

Full CNN story.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

 

CNN: Cloture fails on Bolton - May 26

Thursday, Posted: 7:19 PM EDT (2319 GMT)
Senate move delays decision on controversial U.N. nominee

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After hours of heated exchanges, the Senate failed Thursday evening to close off debate on President Bush's nomination of story.bolton.ap.jpgJohn R. Bolton, shown here, to be ambassador to the United Nations.

The cloture vote would have paved the way for a vote on whether to confirm the controversial nominee.

Republicans needed 60 votes to cut off the debate; they fell short by four, with a 56-42 breakdown.

The debate on Bolton's nomination will now likely resume next month after senators return from their weeklong holiday break.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist had said he wanted a vote on the nomination before the weeklong Memorial Day holiday.

"It does disappoint me," Frist said after the vote. "It looks like we have, once again, another filibuster."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid took issue with Frist's comment.

"This is the first filibuster of the year, and maybe the last. [I] hope so," the Nevada Democrat said.

After cloture, Bolton would need a simple majority to be confirmed by the Senate, which has 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and one independent.

Two key Democratic senators -- Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Joe Biden of Delaware -- asked their Democratic colleagues Thursday to vote against closing the debate.

The two said they wanted more time for the Bush administration to turn over requested documents relating to Syria and to 10 instances of communications intercepted by the National Security Agency.

The senators said Bolton had once sought those intercepts as the undersecretary of state for arms control.

In a letter to their peers, the two Democrats said the administration's refusal to provide the documents "is a threat to the Senate's constitutional power to advise and consent."

Full CNN story.


 

MMfA: Filibusters again discussed

-----

Media Matters for America reports:

Following the bipartisan Senate agreement allowing floor votes on three of President Bush's appeals court nominees, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke claimed that Democrats will not filibuster two nominees not mentioned in the agreement, William Haynes II and Brett M. Kavanaugh, because they are "non-controversial." In fact, Senate Democrats reportedly regard the Haynes and Kavanaugh nominations as problematic and plan to filibuster both.

The May 23 Memorandum of Understanding on Judicial Nominees, drafted by a bipartisan group of 14 senators, allowed Senate-floor votes on Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and William H. Pryor, but stated that the parties made "no commitment to vote for or against cloture" on U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee William Myers or 6th Circuit nominee Henry Saad.

News reports indicate that Democrats intend to filibuster Haynes and Kavanaugh. The New York Times reported on May 25:

Democratic lawmakers and senior aides said they had assurances from six of the seven Democrats who participated in reaching the agreement that Mr. Haynes and Mr. Kavanaugh -- who at one point had been named specifically in the agreement but were dropped in later drafts -- would be opposed.

''We feel we have a strong commitment from our colleagues that Kavanaugh and Haynes will not go forward,'' said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No.2 Democrat.

Conversely, Republicans reportedly intend to use the planned filibuster of Haynes and Kavanaugh's nominations to reopen the debate over judicial filibusters. According to a May 25 Washington Post article:

"This is a truce, not a treaty," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). He criticized the agreement and predicted the GOP majority soon will be back on the verge of voting to bar filibusters of judicial nominees. Disputes over two appellate court nominees not mentioned in the accord -- Brett Kavanaugh and William J. Haynes II -- threaten to renew sharply partisan debates next month, Hatch and others said.

Beyond the controversy over the planned filibusters, critics have questioned Haynes and Kavanaugh's fitness to be federal judges.

Source: MMfA.


 

TDP: Soechting hails PAC ruling

For Immediate Release: Contact: Mike Lavigne
May 26, 2005 512-478-3998

STATEMENT BY TX DEMOCRATIC CHAIR CHARLES SOECHTING

"Judge Hart's landmark decision that TRMPAC failed to report $532,000 in
corporate contributions makes two things very clear: there was an
illegal conspiracy in 2002 to break Texas law, and Tom DeLay and Tom
Craddick were at the center of that conspiracy.

"Everything since then -- the takeover of state government by extremist
politicians paid for by corporate interests, the unprecedented
mid-decade redistricting to give the GOP seats it couldn't win at the
ballot box, the failure of Texas Republicans to address the state's most
pressing public policy challenges -- flows from the illegal conspiracy
directed by Tom DeLay and Tom Craddick.

"Bankrupt public schools? Eligible children stripped of their health
insurance? Soaring college tuition rates? No ethics reform? The
highest homeowners' insurance rates in the nation? Blame it on the
illegal conspiracy directed by Tom DeLay and Tom Craddick."

 

Molly: Senfronia gives lege hell

-----
Published Thursday by Common Dreams News Center
Duck and Cover Time
Texas lege enshrines anti-gay provision in state constitution
by Molly Ivins
 
Here in the National Laboratory for Bad Government, it's Duck and Cover time -- the Legislature is in session. The Can't-Shake-Your-Booty bill passed the House, saving us all from the scourge of sexy cheerleaders. But nothing else is getting done. The state is being run by people who do not know how to govern. Keep in mind that based on past form, whatever lunacy is going on in Texas will eventually sweep the country.

Rarely are the words of one state legislator worth national attention, but when Senfronia Thompson, a black representative from Houston, stalks to the back mike with a certain "get-out-of-my-way" look in her eye, it's, Katie, bar the door. Here is Thompson speaking against the Legislature's recent folly of putting a superfluous anti-gay marriage measure into the state constitution:

"I have been a member of this august body for three decades, and today is one of the all-time low points. We are going in the wrong direction, in the direction of hate and fear and discrimination. Members, we all know what this is about; this is the politics of divisiveness at it's worst, a wedge issue that is meant to divide.

"Members, this is a distraction from the real things we need to be working on. At the end of this session, this Legislature, this leadership will not be able to deliver the people of Texas fundamental and fair answers to the pressing issues of our day.

"Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education system. It does not restore one child to CHIP [Children's Health Insurance Program] who was cut from health insurance last session. It does not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World access to health care. It does not do one thing to care for or protect one elderly person or one child in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to protect one marriage.

"Members, this bill is about hate and fear and discrimination... When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk about 'protecting the institution of marriage' as well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd often find the people of my color hanging from a tree... Fifty years ago, white folks thought interracial marriages were 'a threat to the institution of marriage.'

"Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the good book and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, 'Gay people can't marry.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Thou shalt discriminate against those not like me.' I have never read the verse where it says, 'Let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination.' Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness -- not hate and discrimination.

"I have served in this body a lot of years, and I have seen a lot of promises broken... So... now that blacks and women have equal rights, you turn your hatred to homosexuals, and you still use your misguided reading of the Bible to justify your hatred. You want to pass this ridiculous amendment so you can go home and brag -- brag about what? Declare that you saved the people of Texas from what?

"Persons of the same sex cannot get married in this state now. Texas law does not now recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, religious unions, domestic partnerships, contractual arrangements or Christian blessings entered into in this state -- or anywhere else on this planet Earth.

"If you want to make your hateful political statements then that is one thing -- but the Chisum amendment does real harm. It repeals the contracts that many single people have paid thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint ownership and support agreements. You have lost your way. This is obscene...

"I thought we would be debating economic development, property tax relief, protecting seniors' pensions and stem cell research to save lives of Texans who are waiting for a more abundant life. Instead we are wasting this body's time with this political stunt that is nothing more than constitutionalizing discrimination. The prejudices exhibited by members of this body disgust me.

"Last week, Republicans used a political wedge issue to pull kids -- sweet little vulnerable kids -- out of the homes of loving parents and put them back in a state orphanage just because those parents are gay. That's disgusting.

"I have listened to the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap... I want you to know that this amendment [is] blowing smoke to fuel the hell-fire flames of bigotry."

Then they passed the amendment.

Molly Ivins is the former editor of the liberal monthly The Texas Observer. She is the bestselling author of several books including Who Let the Dogs In?


 

AAS: DeLay's PAC loses suit - May 26

Judge rules against Texans for a Republican Majority

Political action committee must pay $196,660 to five Democrats.

State District Judge Joe Hart ruled Thursday that Texans for a Republican Majority violated state campaign law when it failed to disclose more than a half-million dollars in corporate contributions during the 2002 state legislative elections.

Hart, however, said the plaintiffs could only collect for damages in their campaigns. He awarded $196,660 to the five Democratic candidates who lost in 2002. Included in that total was an $87,332 award to former state Rep. Ann Kitchen of Austin.

Five Democratic candidates sued Bill Ceverha, treasurer for Texans for a Republican Majority. Hart's decision is the first judicial determination in the 2 1/2 year controversy about how the political action committee, created by Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, spent corporate money during the 2002 legislative campaign.

lcopelin@statesman.com; 445-3617


 

AP: Bolton vote next - May 26

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., left, accompanied byBiden & Dodd Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., discuss a procedural motion regarding the nomination of John Bolton to be United Nations Ambassador, Wednesday, May 25, 2005 on Capitol Hill.
 
The Senate began debate on Bolton's nomination immediately after confirming one of President Bush's most controversial nominees for a federal judgeship. A Senate vote on Bolton's nomination would end weeks of wrangling over whether Bolton, an outspoken conservative, mistreated co-workers or took liberties with government intelligence. 
 
(AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
 

Dems Might Attempt to Delay Bolton Vote

AP - 24 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Republicans face another showdown vote but seem confident of muscling John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador through the Senate, giving the post to the man President Bush says will reform the world organization.

Source: AP-Yahoo.


 

Bush: catapult propaganda

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." — George W. Bush in Greece, New York, yesterday.

 

Slate: Iran stops nukes?

-----
By Eric Umansky, Posted Thursday, at 1:10 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with Iranian officials saying they'll extend the freeze on their nuclear program for a more few months, heading off a Security Council showdown for now. Iran had been talking big about putting its program back into gear but decided to play nice after European negotiators promised to offer a detailed list of incentives. Nobody is putting much hope in the extension, especially since Iran's chief negotiator said he still needs the OK from his bosses. The Washington Post is particularly skeptical, stuffing Iran and instead leading with FBI memos showing that about a dozen Gitmo detainees complained that guards mistreated the Quran; one prisoner charged that the holy book was flushed down the toilet. There have been plenty of previous reports of similar detainee allegations. The documents--which were mostly written in 2002 and 2003 and released per an ACLU lawsuit--add in quantity to the charges but not quality. That is, they're still allegations--which makes TP wonder why the Post is leading with them.

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (online, at least) with the Senate confirming, as expected, Priscilla Owen as a federal appellate judge. USA Today leads with state government coffers filling up again. Tax revenues rose to a record $600 billion last year, about 7 percent more than in 2003. (A couple of years ago, Slate's Jack Shafer got huffy about credulous stories that states were heading toward the fiscal abyss.)

As has been previously reported, the Red Cross once told the military about the detainees' allegations. Soon after, the prisoners' complaints apparently stopped. (Here's an interview with a former translator at Gitmo who attributed some of the abuse to a lack of cultural training. At least initially, guards didn't know they weren't supposed to handle the Quran.) The latest FBI docs also include 19 separate allegations of beatings, as well as complaints about sexually humiliating interrogation tactics. TP doesn't see it flagged in this morning's papers, but when the Newsweek toilet story first hit it big, the Pentagon's top spokesman was asked whether the military has ever investigated charges that the Quran was disrespected at Gitmo. He answered no, explaining, "There haven't been credible allegations to that effect."

In the name-calling wars: Everybody notes that Amnesty International launched a big broadside against the U.S., calling the treatment of detainees "atrocious" and dubbing Gitmo a "gulag." The Journal's editorial page, never one to get riled, in turn proclaims that Amnesty's take "amounts to pro-al Qaeda propaganda."

A Page One WP piece looks at the myriad ways in which President Bush and congressional leaders have centralized power. Nothing really new here: Cabinet members have no freedom, committee chairmanships are no longer decided by seniority, etc. But the Post certainly comes out swinging: The president "has constructed what many scholars said amounts to a virtual oligarchy with Cheney, Karl Rove, Andrew H. Card Jr., Joshua Bolton, himself and only a few others setting policy."

Rest of the Slate article.

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



 

Reuters: Dems stall for Bolton info - May 26

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican senator tried to convince his colleagues on Wednesday to reject John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations as the Senate headed toward a vote on President Bush's contentious pick.

Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, the one Republican to openly oppose Bolton, urged senators not to vote for him simply out of loyalty to the president. Voinovich said they should consider whether he had shown a record of abusive, erratic behavior that should disqualify him for the sensitive diplomatic job.

Other Republicans rose to Bolton's defense, and the White House said it was confident he would be confirmed.

"Opponents have argued that Secretary Bolton's personality will prevent him from being effective at the U.N., but his diplomatic successes over the last four years belie that expectation," said Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Republicans aimed for a vote on Thursday on Bolton, currently the top U.S. diplomat for arms control, and expected he would be confirmed largely along party lines.

But at Democrats' insistence, the Senate was slated to hold a procedural vote on Thursday that could delay his confirmation until after Congress' Memorial Day recess next week.

If they fail to get the 41 votes out of 100 required to extend the debate on the nomination, Democrats agreed to go immediately to a vote on Bolton on Thursday.

Democrats wanted time to make a last demand the administration turn over documents they said would shed more light on whether Bolton tried to tamper with intelligence assessments.

If the Senate fails to insist on the information, "We weaken the ability of this place to do its job. And that's really what's at stake in the debate here," said Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd.

The White House and most Republicans have said senators had seen more than enough information to decide on Bolton, and accused Democrats of deliberately stalling the nomination.

Full Reuters story.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

 

AP: RWCs hot over judges - May 25

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By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer - Wednesday

DES MOINES, Iowa - RWCs (Right-Wing Christians) who had warned Republicans about compromising on President Bush's judicial nominees delivered another message the day after the deal: Those who betrayed us will pay a political price.

Furious with the outcome, RWC leaders promised to energize their rank-and-file for the next elections while warning some of the centrist Republicans who harbor presidential aspirations to forget about 2008.

"A complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans," said James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based RWC group, who promised that voters will remember "both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust."

The talk of retribution was particularly keen in Iowa, where the state's precinct caucuses launch the presidential nomination process and can make or break White House hopefuls.

"They won't get any help from us -- none," Norman Pawlewski of the Iowa Christian Coalition said of the seven Republicans who helped negotiate the compromise. "We busted our hump to get a president who would appoint judges who would be more just. Republican senators betrayed us."

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said, "There will be repercussions."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a possible presidential candidate in 2008, was under intense pressure to ensure that each of Bush's nominees received an up-or-down vote. RWCs made it clear that anything less was unacceptable.

While Dobson credited Frist for "courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness," other RWCs weren't as forgiving.

"He let them do this," Pawlewski said. "He's the leader of the Senate. If he is so weak ... he can't control his own troops, then he's not much of a leader."

Full story.


 

The Nation: Cowboy Cheers - May 25

Katrina vanden Heuvel
katrina_vanden_heuvel

Flouting the fact that Pat Robertson thinks the "activist" (Republican-sponsored and approved) judiciary is the worst threat America faces, the moralistic majority in the Texas legislature has decided that sexy cheerleading is our nation's undoing.

Forget the fact that it was the state of Texas that made sexy cheerleading part of our national cultural life. (This state, which wanted to be an independent nation, has also given us the execution of women and the mentally handicapped, Tom DeLay and George W. Bush.)

Of course, youthful female sexuality will always be a threat to the good ole boys. But my favorite part of this legislation is that it requires every school district to hire a sexy cheerleading commissar to enforce the proposed prohibition of "overtly sexually suggestive" cheerleading routines. (They won't be condemning James Joyce's Ulysses, but the principle of we-know-it-when-we-see-it has expanded.) Big government conservatism at your service.

As we fight fundamentalism abroad, it is crucial to know that we are fighting it here at home. What is next for the cheerleaders of Texas?

Burkas? Source: The Nation.


 

Slate-Today's Papers: Embryoglio - May 25

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The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today all lead with the House voting to relax restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, a bill President Bush has promised to veto. Though the measure passed with 50 Republican votes, it didn't get enough support to be veto-proof. The Senate is expected to pass a similar version soon. The Wall Street Journal says that rather than risk a veto of a popular bill, the White House is considering pushing for some sort of backroom "compromise" in the House-Senate conference. According to one poll, 57 percent of Republicans support embryonic stem-cell research.

The WSJ world-wide newsbox and Washington Post lead with the fruits of the (mushy) filibuster compromise: The Senate voted 81-to-18 to clear the way for a full floor vote on judicial nominee Priscilla Owen. Meanwhile, the compromise itself wasn't looking so robust. "This is a truce, not a treaty," said Senator Orrin Hatch.


To continue reading, click here.

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

 

Haigler: Abilene Democrats start book club - May 25

Book-Club
 
Abilene, May 25 -- Taylor County Democrats met last night at their HQ at 453 Pine Street, Abilene, for the first meeting of their Book Club.  Members pictured were (l-r) Roger Spier, David Cory, Frank Sayre, Alice Spier, Esme Glenn, C.W. Overby, Allen Glenn, and Harroll Backus.  Not pictured were Barbara Backus, Becky & Dave Haigler. 
 
The book under discussion was What's the Matter with Kansas, by Thomas Frank.  The book's subtitle is How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.
 
The Amazon review of the book says:
The largely blue collar citizens of Kansas can be counted upon to be a "red" state in any election, voting solidly Republican and possessing a deep animosity toward the left. This, according to author Thomas Frank, is a pretty self-defeating phenomenon, given that the policies of the Republican Party benefit the wealthy and powerful at the great expense of the average worker. According to Frank, the conservative establishment has tricked Kansans, playing up the emotional touchstones of conservatism and perpetuating a sense of a vast liberal empire out to crush traditional values while barely ever discussing the Republicans' actual economic policies and what they mean to the working class. Thus the pro-life Kansas factory worker who listens to Rush Limbaugh will repeatedly vote for the party that is less likely to protect his safety, less likely to protect his job, and less likely to benefit him economically. To much of America, Kansas is an abstract, "where Dorothy wants to return. Where Superman grew up." But Frank, a native Kansan, separates reality from myth in What's the Matter with Kansas and tells the state's socio-political history from its early days as a hotbed of leftist activism to a state so entrenched in conservatism that the only political division remaining is between the moderate and more-extreme right wings of the same party. Frank, the founding editor of The Baffler and a contributor to Harper's and The Nation, knows the state and its people. He even includes his own history as a young conservative idealist turned disenchanted college Republican, and his first-hand experience, combined with a sharp wit and thorough reasoning, makes his book more credible than the elites of either the left and right who claim to understand Kansas. --John Moe
Roger Spier, Club President, led the discussion, assisted by Allen Glenn and Frank Sayre, who also had read the book.  Members discussed the religious-right agenda of "God, gays and guns" and how to counter that with more-effective framing of the issues. 
 
Alice Spier cited Dr. Dean's interview on Meet the Press stressing that Democrats are not "pro-abortion."  Becky Haigler agreed, saying 43% of Democrats and "pro-life," and that "Democrats for Life" have a 95-10 initiative, which Dave Haigler pointed out was not "anti-choice," but rather consistent with Senator Clinton's position of making abortion "safe, legal & rare."
 
David Cory said Democrats should oppose the monolithic agenda of the religious-right "Dominionists."  Dave Haigler disagreed, saying many of these people are long-time friends of his and are not monolithic, but rather agreed on a few minor issues and divided on many others.  Haigler said the "evangelicals" are not monolithic either, but rather at least 40% of them are Democrats, and that Democrats" real focus should be the "Fundamentalist Dispensationalists" supporting the "originalist" constitutional viewpoint and who believe society is going downhill and have no comprehensive plan to redeem culture, but rather expect to "do their thing for Jesus" and be quickly raptured out of the earth.
 
Allen Glenn & Roger Spier -- both secularists -- said that recruiting Democrats who are religious leaders would be key to undoing the religious-right's stranglehold on the political process. 
 
Dave Haigler agreed, but said it's the Republican power elites who are insincerely using the religious right, instead of the religious right really being in control.  He said that "Republican moderates" have no intention of re-criminalizing abortion or abolishing gay marriage, but rather are using those issues to keep the Fundamentalist Dispensationalists inflamed and voting Republican.
 
Members enjoyed a pot-luck supper of chili, cooked by Roger, and taco salad, cooked by Becky.
 
Members discussed reviewing a book on health-care policy next month.

 

AFP: FBI wants more snooping - May 25

FBI Chief

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Wednesday morning

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US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) chief Robert Mueller.

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The FBI formally asked Congress to expand its search and surveillance powers in counterterrorism probes, prompting an outcry among civil libertarians concerned that individual rights might be trampled.

-----

(AFP/File/Goh Chai Hin)

Wed May 25, 4:55 AM ET


 

AFP: Abbas to meet Bush - May 25

Abbas

-----

Wednesday morning

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Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (front) arrives at Andrews air base near Wahington for his first visit to the US since his election in January.

Abbas called for a 'clear' US commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

(AFP/Awad Awad)

Wed May 25, 4:59 AM ET

-----
 
 

 

Newsday: Judicial compromise unstable, experts say - May 25

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by Tom Brune

WASHINGTON - The common ground that 14 senators found to avert a partisan showdown over the president's judicial nominees and the Democrats' filibusters is strewn with landmines, experts said Tuesday.

The two-page memo signed by seven Republicans and seven Democrats is intended to govern the confirmation process for judicial nominations for the next 18 months, but senators and political consultants said it could easily blow up before then.

"Keep in mind this is merely a truce. It's not a treaty yet," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a Republican leader in fights over judges, adding that to work the deal requires "the good faith" of both the compromisers and all other senators.
 
"I really think we have to see how this plays out. I don't regard this as the final whistle," said Stuart Rothenberg, a political consultant monitoring the fight over President Bush's choices for federal judgeships.

Partisan struggle over the ideology of appellate judges could easily rip the compromise, but nearly all interviewed Tuesday said the most likely stumbling block would be the expected vacancy on the Supreme Court.

"It's all about the Supreme Court," Rothenberg said. "That's why I feel we haven't had the fight yet. We've just put off the inevitable."

Most senators Tuesday appeared eager to move ahead with the compromise, however, casting 81 votes, 21 more than the 60 needed, to end the possibility of a filibuster of the long-stalled appellate court nomination of Texas Judge Priscilla Owen.

The agreement calls for full Senate votes on two other candidates whom liberals have attacked as conservative activists, California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor Jr., now temporarily on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

But the confirmation process for future judicial nominees remains unclear, a fuzziness borne of vague language in the agreement, notably permitting a filibuster "under extraordinary circumstances."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a leader in the compromise, offered a vague definition of the phrase Tuesday: "You know it when you see it."

Republicans and Democrats also disagreed on whether the agreement took the so-called nuclear option off the table. In that option, Republicans would use a simple majority to change Senate rules to ban filibusters on court nominees.

Compromisers Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, said they reserved the right to vote for the nuclear option if Democrat compromisers broke faith and launched a filibuster under circumstances other than the vague "extraordinary."
 
Source.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

 

Van Os: Senate filibuster deal was a sellout - May 24

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Thanks once again to the warriors of the Congressional Black Caucus for telling the truth. All of our hard work and sweat and speaking and acting over the past 5 years, so many of us, fighting so hard to save the Supreme Court and the Federal Judiciary from the jaws of the beast, was all for nought, is all down the drain thanks to the seven scabs who broke the picket line and sold us all out to the boss.

Understand folks, no "right to filibuster" has been "saved." It can't get worse than Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, and William Pryor. All three are more extremist than Clarence Thomas. They make Scalia a moderate. If these three don't constitute "extraordinary circumstances," the phrase has no meaning. It has no meaning anyway you look at it. The ability to sustain any filibuster is now dependent upon the approval of a group of Republicans. If the seven Republicans who just cleaned our store out say at any time, "this nominee is not an extraordinary circumstance, so you can't filibuster," then if the Dems try to resist, the R's just say, no deal, we get to go nuclear. On the other hand, under the extremely unlikely scenario that a nominee is one that those seven Republicans agree does constitute an extraordinary circumstance, then it means that is a nominee that they would not have voted for cloture on anyway, with or without this "deal." In other words, the abiility to filibuster is subject to the approval of a group of Republicans, so all that's happened is that the Democrats have given up the right to filibuster, period. A right means nothing if it can't be exercised meaningfully when it's really needed. The time we need the filibuster is when Republicans don't approve of its use. But the ability to use it without GOP approval is gone, and the Supreme Court is gone.
These craven Democratic Senators' utter duplicity in calling their capitulation a victory is an outrage. Not only do they not have the backbone to stand and fight, they expect us to believe that their surrender equals success. If they thought the votes were against them, they could at least have had the honor to stand and fight for us, and if we're going to lose, then dammit, go down fighting! If you like the Bill of Rights, be mighty glad that none of these Democratic Senators were in Washington's camp at Valley Forge.

I know not what others will say, but I am sick to death of the spineless claiming a right to leadership. No mas! No Jellyfish Senators speak for me. This is one Democrat who will continue to fight the madness that is creeping over this country every step of the way. I will not compromise with the growing evil, and I will not accept selling out as leadership.

-David Van Os
David Van Os for Texas Attorney General in 2006

 

Roll Call: CBC Opposes Senate Deal - May 24

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By Erin P. Billings,
Roll Call Staff


The Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday announced its opposition to a Senate deal aimed at preventing a showdown on the so-called nuclear option, calling the agreement "more of a capitulation than a compromise."

The 43-Member CBC, led by Chairman Mel Watt (D-N.C.), is also penning a letter today to the 100 Senators urging them to oppose the judicial nominations of Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. Those nominees, expected to come up for consideration in the coming days, were guaranteed an up or down Senate vote as part of Monday's agreement.

The CBC argued the two nominees "have documented histories of opposing rights of African Americans and of hostility to the broad mainstream of law and rights enacted by the Congress over the past 75 years."

The letter of dissent from the CBC comes on the heels of last night's deal between seven Democratic and seven Republican Senators short-circuiting the standoff over the filibuster rule. That bipartisan group agreed to keep the current rules in place, but allow for a series of votes on President Bush's judicial nominations and the use the filibuster to block appointments only in "extraordinary circumstances."

Watt, in a statement, said the CBC believes that deal is "a temporary filibuster ceasefire" that ultimately will give Bush a green light to push through his judicial nominees without proper consideration. That, he wrote, is a "capitulation."

"The only way to make a bad deal worse would be for these judges to succeed in getting the 51 percent of the Senate votes they need for confirmation," Watt said.

"Even under the terms of this deal, these nominees can go on the bench only if they get the majority of the Senate to approve them.

"We will be looking closely at the votes as they occur and expect any senator who seeks our support and the support of our constituents to reject the judges who have rejected the obligation to protect our rights," the letter states.

The CBC has been a leading opponent to any changes to the filibuster rule in the Senate. The group opted to weigh in on the debate late last month with an aggressive lobbying campaign aimed at Democratic and Republican Senators. The CBC at that time encouraged Senators to oppose any changes to the current filibuster rules.

CBC members have said they worry that any changes to the filibuster rules could spell disaster for black Americans who more than most rely on a fair and impartial judiciary.

Copyright 2005 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved.


 

AP: Owen & friends - May 24

Photo

President Bush meets in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington with judicial nominee Priscilla Owen, left of Bush, Tuesday, May 24, 2005. With them are Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., left, Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, second right, and John Cornyn, R-Texas. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

 

Slate: Unite and Fight - May 24

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Can the cliches! Give Iraq's Sunnis a good reason to support the government.
By Fred Kaplan
Updated Tuesday, at 2:49 PM PT

The war in Iraq is reaching its most critical stage, a stage that should be supported by civilized people and powers everywhere--Western, Eastern, and Middle Eastern--regardless of their views about the war at the outset. Yet, just as President Bush should be recalibrating and refining a case for this support, both to the American people and to the rest of the world, he's rehashing canned cliches and shallow falsehoods, which will only deepen the disaffection.


On Monday, at a White House press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Bush was asked whether he thought the Iraqi insurgency was getting harder to defeat militarily.


To continue reading, click here.

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

 

TFN: Texas House rejects private school vouchers

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In a dramatic showdown on the House floor Monday night, the Texas Education Agency sunset bill containing private school vouchers -- S.B. 422 -- was brought down on a parliamentary challenge. After the bill was gutted to make vouchers available only for public and not private schools, Speaker Tom Craddick sustained the challenge that killed the issue for this session.

Source: Texas Freedom Network.

 

AP: Dean - no longer take Blacks for granted - May 24

Dean-----
After three months leading the party-out-of-power, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, shown here, wants to stengthen ties with key constituencies like women, Hispanics, and especially black voters, he said, during a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2005. 
 
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
-----
 
Blacks Annoyed by Party's Outreach
 

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 15 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Black voters are upset with the Democratic Party for coming around just weeks before elections seeking their votes, party chairman Howard Dean said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press.

Taking black voters for granted is a long-standing problem for the party that dates to the 1960s, said Dean, who promised changes in strategy even as he cited diversity at the top of the Democratic National Committee.

"African-Americans are annoyed with the Democratic Party because we ask them for their votes four weeks before the election instead of being in the community now and that's a mistake I'm trying to fix," he said. "There's a new generation of African-American leaders and a new generation of African-Americans. We can't go out and say could you vote for us because we were so helpful during the civil rights era."

Full AP-Yahoo story.


 

AP: Web Posting: Iraq al-Qaida Leader Injured - May 24

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is seen in this undated photo released by the U.S. Department of State. Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, blamed for numerous terror attacks on U.S. and Iraqi targets, said Tuesday May 24, 2005 in an Internet posting that its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded and called on supporters to pray for his recovery. The posting's authenticity could not be verified, but it was posted on a Web site known for carrying prior statements by al-Qaida in Iraq and other militant groups. (AP Photo/U.S. Department of State, HO)-----

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is seen in this undated photo released by the U.S. Department of State.

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Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, blamed for numerous terror attacks on U.S. and Iraqi targets, said Tuesday May 24, 2005 in an Internet posting that its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded and called on supporters to pray for his recovery. The posting's authenticity could not be verified, but it was posted on a Web site known for carrying prior statements by al-Qaida in Iraq and other militant groups. (AP Photo/U.S. Department of State, HO)

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By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Writer

38 minutes ago

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CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq, blamed for numerous terror attacks on U.S. and Iraqi targets, said Tuesday in an Internet posting that its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded and called on supporters to pray for his recovery. The posting's authenticity could not be verified, but it was posted on a Web site known for carrying prior statements by al-Qaida in Iraq and other militant groups.

Full AP story.


 

MSNBC: Evangelicals rethink their public face - May 24

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By Alex Johnson, Reporter
MSNBC - Updated: 7:40 a.m. ET Monday

Faithful must branch out beyond politics, leaders say

Evangelical leaders are re-examining whether American evangelicalism has suffered from its portrayal as a conservative political movement rather than as a broad religious philosophy rooted in a literal reading of the Bible.

Although evangelical leaders have been among the most prominent spokesmen for conservative causes, “evangelical” and “religious right” are not the same thing. Studies indicate that as many as 40 percent of Americans who call themselves evangelicals are politically moderate or identify with the Democratic Party.

But two recent declarations by evangelical and conservative religious thinkers suggest that evangelicals have become too closely identified with conservative political activism, at the expense of attracting new followers. The declarations are likely to be hot topics of conversation when the Southern Baptist Convention holds its annual meeting next month in Nashville, Tenn.

“Because evangelicals have been portrayed as being very, very limited in their range of societal concerns, there is an element of challenge in the evangelical community to say, ‘Let’s not get caught up in narrow partisan concerns,’” said Mark L. Sargent, provost of Gordon College, a nondenominational Christian institution in Wenham, Mass. “Many evangelicals say they feel very alienated with the partisan rhetoric in the nation.”

The declarations — a statement of principles by the National Association of Evangelicals and a study of growth in Southern Baptist congregations — serve to crystallize discontent among many evangelical and conservative Christians with their public perception in recent years.

The NAE document, “For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility,” was the product of three years of work. It was created by two dozen scholars who bridged the spectrum of conservative to liberal evangelical thought encompassed by the organization’s 45,000 churches, which represent 52 U.S. denominations. It was released in March for general distribution with a book of essays that expanded on its seven main points.

The statement is a diplomatically worded synthesis that reaffirms evangelicals’ traditional opposition to abortion, embryonic stem cell research, pornography and “sexual libertinism.” And it urges evangelicals to remain deeply engaged on those issues.

MSNBC, rest of Alex Johnson article.

The National Association of Evangelicals’ statement identifies seven areas of concern in which evangelicals should step up their social engagement:
— We work to protect religious freedom and liberty of conscience.
— We work to nurture family life and protect children.
— We work to protect the sanctity of human life and to safeguard its nature.
— We seek justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable.
— We work to protect human rights.
— We seek peace and work to restrain violence.
— We labor to protect God's creation.

Full statement - NAE: ‘For the Health of the Nation’ (PDF)

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