Saturday, June 04, 2005


TDP Chair Soechting On Perry’s Failure

June 3, 2005

Rick Perry has a problem. Fresh from his third failed legislative session in a row, he is hinting that he will call lawmakers back to Austin to address the public school crisis they failed to solve during the past 140 days.

But it's hard to find many Texans who think the Governor really means it. After all, his entire political career has been bankrolled by the shadowy San Antonio donor whose principle goal is to siphon billions of tax dollars out of public schools to fund a private-school voucher scheme.

While running for Lt. Governor as a proponent of local school control back in 1998, Perry was exposed on the front pages of Texas newspapers as assuring a pro-voucher group in a secretly tape-recorded meeting that he would not let local education boards stand in the way of a private-school voucher program.

As Governor during his first two failed sessions, Perry tried to remain coy on the question. But this year, he finally took off the mask and publicly acknowledged that he thinks it's a good idea to take your tax dollars out of your children's public schools so that his political contributors can fund their own kids' private education.

Or as Ken Rodriguez wrote in the San Antonio Express-News this week:

"[L]et's consider some history and context. Perry offered his own school-funding plan last year. It was rejected. He called a special session. It failed.

The 2005 session began with hope. But a Republican governor with a Republican-dominated Legislature was unable to carry his "emergency" issue across the goal line. His team fumbled the ball.

If that's not a failure of leadership, I don't know what is."

Gov. Perry, like the rest of the extremists who have taken over the modern-day Republican Party of Texas, has no commitment to public schools. As State Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Houston) let slip last year, "Where did this idea that every one should have... free education come from? From Moscow, from the pit of hell." Most mainstream Texans realized that Rep. Riddle was giving public voice to what her party leaders privately believe.

So that's Rick Perry's problem. After three straight failed regular sessions and four years of the most corrupt administration in recent memory, there is widespread skepticism that Gov. Perry mean anything he says -- including that he cares enough about public schools to actually try to find a solution.

Your Chairman,

Charles E. Soechting



AP: Dixie flag back up in Mo.

The Confederate battle flag flew below the Missouri state flag and the U.S. flag at the Confederate Memorial Historic Site near Higginsville, Mo., in 1997. Republican Gov. Matt Blunt has ordered the flag, which was ordered taken down in 2003 by Democratic Gov. Bob Holden's administration, to fly Sunday, June 5, 2005, at the historic site, where a graveside service is planned to mark Confederate Memorial Day, and the order has outraged Mary Ratliff, president of the Missouri State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Source: AP News.


AP: Bolton got UN Iraq inspector fired in 2002

John R. Bolton flew to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved.

A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani "had to go," particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.

Bustani, who says he got a "menacing" phone call from Bolton at one point, was removed by a vote of just one-third of member nations at an unusual special session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), at which the United States cited alleged mismanagement in calling for his ouster.

The United Nations' highest administrative tribunal later condemned the action as an "unacceptable violation" of principles protecting international civil servants. The OPCW session's Swiss chairman now calls it an "unfortunate precedent" and Bustani a "man with merit."

"Many believed the U.S. delegation didn't want meddling from outside in the Iraq business," said the retired Swiss diplomat, Heinrich Reimann.

Full AP story on Bolton eliminating Iraq inspector who knew the truth about US false claims on weapons.


Yahoo: Quran desecrated

Members of Bangladesh Soldiers of Islam, the children wing of Youth Jamiyat, hold the Quran during an anti-U.S. protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, June 3, 2005. The group was demonstrating against the alleged desecration of the Quran by U.S. soldiers in Guantanamo Bay.



NYT: Amnesty defends "gulag" claim against U.S.

June 4, 2005
LONDON, June 3 - An official of Amnesty International said Friday that the term gulag in its annual report to describe the United States prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was chosen deliberately, and she shrugged off harsh criticism of the report by the Bush administration.

The official, Kate Gilmore, the group's executive deputy secretary general, said the administration's response was "typical of a government on the defensive," and she drew parallels to the reactions of the former Soviet Union, Libya and Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini, when those governments were accused of human rights abuses.

The report, released May 25, placed the United States at the heart of its list of human rights offenders, citing indefinite detentions of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and secret renditions of prisoners to countries that practice torture. But it is the use of the word gulag, a reference to the complex of labor camps where Stalin sent thousands of dissidents, that has drawn the most attention.

President Bush called the report "absurd" several times, and said it was the product of people who "hate America." Vice President Dick Cheney told CNN that he was "offended" by the use of the term and that he did not take the organization "seriously." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called the comparison "reprehensible."

Amnesty has fired right back, pointing out that the administration often cites its reports when that suits its purposes. "If our reports are so 'absurd,' why did the administration repeatedly cite our findings about Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war?" wrote William F. Schultz, executive director of the group's United States branch, in a letter to the editor being published Saturday in The New York Times. "Why does it welcome our criticisms of Cuba, China and North Korea? And why does it cite our research in its own annual human rights reports?"

In a telephone interview on Friday, Ms. Gilmore, the second-ranking official in Amnesty, said "gulag" was not meant as a literal description of Guantánamo but was emblematic of the sense of injustice and lack of due process surrounding the prison.

"The issue of the gulag is about policies and practices," she said. "You put people beyond the reach of law, you locate them in facilities where families can't access them, you deny them access to legal representation, you attempt to prevent judicial review."

She added, "This creates the likelihood that the people who are there have nothing to do with criminal conduct or that it is a breach of the Geneva Convention."

In its 308-page human rights report, Amnesty International pointed to an "impunity and accountability deficit," and called on Congress to conduct "a full and independent investigation of the use of torture and other human rights abuses by U.S. officials" as a starting point in "restoring confidence that true justice has no double standards."

Long used to biting criticism, the group said this was the first time one of its reports had drawn the public wrath of the United States president and vice president, its secretary of defense, its secretary of state and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Ms. Gilmore said the response was telling. "When we see a government at this level engaging in rhetorical attacks and avoiding dealing with the details or the facts," she said, "we interpret that as being a sign that we are starting to have an impact."

Ms. Gilmore said Amnesty International has been working on terrorism-related human rights violations for more than two years. It was a natural progression and a predictable course of action, she said, to place the United States, a defender of democracy and human rights, at the forefront of the annual report of human rights violations.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, the F.B.I. and United States courts have criticized the detention policies at Guantánamo Bay, she said. In addition, Ms. Gilmore said, the detention policy has been expanded to apply to jails in countries like Egypt, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The creation of an archipelago of detention centers, she said, was another factor in the choice of the term gulag.

There has been no internal discussion about the wisdom of having used the term and certainly no sense of regret, Ms. Gilmore said, although the group has found the unrelenting focus on the word, and not the contents of the report, irritating. "On the other hand," she added, "we're getting more airing of our message than we would have otherwise."

So far, Washington's reaction has galvanized support for Amnesty International, she said. In the past week, the United States branch of the group has reported an increase in memberships, donations and volunteers.

The fact that the United States was prominent on the list came as little surprise internationally, she said.

"I think it's a dangerous game the U.S. administration is playing, to attack civil society in this manner," Ms. Gilmore said. "Civil society is essential to a robust democratic society. For the Bush administration to think that it's a legitimate political strategy to attack a nongovernmental organization of Amnesty's standing signals a ruthlessness that is deeply troubling."

While the substance of the report was defended by human rights organizations and others, several said Amnesty International had erred in using the word gulag, if only because it allowed the Bush administration to change the conversation.

"I think it was a rather serious misjudgment to use the term gulag," said Sir Nigel Rodley, a professor of law at the University of Essex and chairman of the Human Rights Center there. "The basic criticism of some of the problems are very real and it has given the administration the opportunity to divert from the substance of the concern."

Sir Nigel, who said that having been Amnesty International's legal adviser from 1973 to 1990 he represents the old guard, also said that the organization should have avoided using an inflammatory term that did not precisely apply. He also said the "lapse" lent credence to a growing chorus of concerns that Amnesty, which was founded in 1961 to lobby for political prisoners and has since expanded into the areas of poverty, domestic violence and AIDS, had overextended itself and lost focus.

Reed Brody, special counsel with Human Rights Watch in New York, said he thought the Bush administration had taken cover behind semantics. "We're concerned that the debate over the label is obscuring the real issue," he said. "That the United States is locking people up without due process possibly for the rest of their lives."

D.H.: In a related story today, the NYT says a U.S. military inquiry has admitted U.S. abuses at the base in Cuba, including desecration of the Quran:

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


Slate: Stop Gun - June 4

By Jay Dixit
Posted Saturday, at 3:19 AM PT

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times lead with news that Donald Rumsfeld warned China that its rapid military development threatens Asia's delicate military balance. The Washington Post leads with news that the U.S. is negotiating for long-term use of a military base in Uzbekistan despite concerns about recent human rights abuses there.

The Pentagon believes that China has built up its military capabilities--especially its ballistic missiles--more than its leaders are letting on. Rumsfeld's warning, which both the NYT and the LAT call "blunt," made the case that China's arms buildup poses a danger not only to Taiwan, but also to other Asian countries, as well as to American interests. "Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment?" said Rumsfeld. The papers agree that the administration's stance on China seems to be growing more critical. The NYT points out that urging China to make its society more open and politically free echoes the administration's theme of encouraging democracy around the world. The WP skips the story entirely.

Although the U.S. has been negotiating for the use of Uzbekistan's base for months, talks became "awkward" following last month's government crackdown--the most brutal since the country left the Soviet Union--when Uzbek security forces killed anti-government protestors and other innocent civilians. The Pentagon described the Uzbek base as "critical in supporting our combat operations." But as an anonymous State Department official put it, "No one wants our troops in the middle of someone else's civil conflict or issues." The U.S. has been using Uzbek bases for operations in Afghanistan since 2001 on a temporary basis.

The LAT off-leads and the NYT and WP both front new details about Quran mishandling at Guantanamo Bay. A military inquiry found that in five cases, guards kicked, stepped on, splashed urine on, or otherwise mistreated the Quran. The urine splashing incident was apparently accidental and occurred when "a guard urinated near an air vent and the wind blew his urine through the vent into a detainee's cell." The detainee was promptly issued fresh clothes and a new Quran. Other incidents:

Qurans got wet when guards threw water balloons at a cellblock; a "two-word obscenity" was found in a Quran, but investigators don't know whether it was written by a guard or the detainee himself; an investigator stepped on a Quran, later apologized, but was eventually fired for a pattern of unacceptable behavior. The investigation found no evidence of a Quran being flushed down the toilet. The military emphasized that considering the thousands of times detainees have been moved and cells searched, incidents were relatively rare, saying, "Mishandling of a Quran here is never condoned."

The WP and LAT tease and the NYT stuffs news that the economy produced a paltry 78,000 new jobs in May, the lowest total in almost two years. Some analysts interpreted the numbers as a sign that the economy is expanding at a "healthy, though slowing, pace," while others called it a sign of "faltering economic growth." The LAT points out that although more Americans are working now than ever before, there are fewer private sector jobs than when Bush took office. Meanwhile, unemployment fell to 5.1 percent, its lowest level since 2001.

The WP previews next week's presidential election in Iran. The ayatollah urged citizens to vote, but advocates of reform are urging a boycott, condemning a system in which the top leaders are unelected and three elite bodies of appointed clerics outrank the presidency. As one reformist put it, "The free election we have here is a mere play, because we've got a person at the top who has absolute power."

The NYT front page spotlights refugees in limbo, people who have been ordered deported but rejected by their home countries. Like one Somali man in jail in Minnesota, such people can languish in long-term detention while the U.S. tries to ship them home. But there's not much they can do about the wait: They have "no legal right to stay, yet no practical route out."

The WP and the LAT front word that the Michael Jackson molestation case has gone to the jury. In closing arguments, the prosecutor appealed to the jury's common sense, noting that Jackson had himself disclosed sleepovers with children. The defense attorney, meanwhile, referred to Jackson's accusers as "con artists, actors, and liars." If convicted, Jackson could go to prison for more than 20 years.

The NYT fronts news that Japan has launched a national campaign to get its citizens to save energy and fight global warming. Japan's industrial sector has tripled its energy efficiency in the last 30 years, but efficiency at the individual level has not kept pace. By encouraging consumers to replace old appliances and buy hybrid vehicles, the government hopes to reduce energy consumption in homes and cars.

Code of honor -- California's plan to overlay a new area code in Los Angeles prompts the LAT to revisit America's obsession with the status area code. As the paper notes, the pursuit of area code status has been explored in the culture. In the movie Swingers, characters agree that 310 is cooler than 818; on Seinfeld, Elaine gets rejected for having a 646 instead of a 212. Now, residents of posh neighborhoods are fighting the state's plan to overlay a new 424 area code onto 310. But 310 can't last forever. As one carrier spokeswoman put it, "The finite nature of math is catching up with us."

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

Source: http://www.slate.com/id/2120313/fr/nl/.


Barhorst: Intelligence creativity to please Bush

Below you’ll find the beginning of two news articles that were published within 4 hours of each other. If you take the first at face value—as we did with the Iraqi WMD—as soon as you read the second you’ll know our intelligence is as lousy as ever.

However, on the other hand, our intelligence may not be “flawed” but the analysts are doing their best to bolster Bush’s favorite “terrorist enemy nation” of the week.



AP: Intelligence Sees Terrorists in Iran

By KATHERINE SHRADER and JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writers Fri Jun 3,10:51 PM ET
WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence and foreign allies have growing evidence that wanted terrorists have been residing in Iran despite repeated American warnings to Tehran not to harbor them.


Reports of terrorists meeting in Syria were flawed, U.S. officials say

By Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay, Knight Ridder Newspapers Fri Jun 3, 6:53 PM ET

WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence has no evidence that terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi visited Syria in recent months to plan bombings in
Iraq, and experts don't believe the widely publicized meeting ever happened, according to U.S. officials.

Two weeks ago, a top U.S. military official in Baghdad, Iraq, told reporters that Zarqawi had traveled to Syria in April and met with leaders of the Iraqi insurgency to plan the recent wave of bombings against American troops and the Iraqi government. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity.


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

Friday, June 03, 2005


AP: Rehnquist

RehnquistChief Justice William H. Rehnquist is seen in this Dec. 5, 2003 file photo taken at the Supreme Court in Washington.
Rehnquist is a man of simple pleasures: poker, a cheeseburger washed down with a beer, a good book or a movie.
Perhaps most of all, the 80-year-old chief justice is a creature of habit. If he retires as many expect in the coming weeks, Rehnquist will be remembered for that trait that has helped him keep the Supreme Court running smoothly as its super-organized manager.
Source:  AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite.


AP: Laura opposes gangs

First lady Laura Bush, shown below,

Laura Bush

shakes hands with Miguel Arcos, an outreach worker for Cease Fire Chicago, an anti-violence organization, as Freddy Martinez, a 17-year-old youth client of the program, looks on Thursday, June 2, 2005, in Chicago. Mrs. Bush visited Ceasefire as an organizations that help children leave gangs and return to school. Source: AP Photo/M. Spencer Green.


AFP: Arnold cuts gas emissions

Cal GovCalifornia Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, shown here, right, declared war yesterday on global warming by imposing bold new greenhouse gas targets emissions on the most populous US state(AFP/Getty Images/File)

The "Terminator" action hero was the star attraction at the opening of the United Nations World Environment Day conference in San Francisco, where mayors from the world's most populated cities are gathering to draw up plans to protect increasingly-fragile urban environments.

The brawny icon signed an executive order mandating cuts in greenhouse gas emission in the most populous US state, even though Washington has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on the environment.

The decree provides that greenhouse gas emissions in California be cut to year 2000 levels in the next five years, and that they be 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

"California will continue to be a leader in the fight against global warming and protecting our environment," said the movie tough guy, who stole the show and received a standing ovation.

"By working together we can meet the needs of both our economy and environment," he added.

The move to slash greenhouse gas emissions in environmentally-conscious California comes after his fellow Republican, President George W. Bush, refused to put the Kyoto Protocol to Congress for ratification.

Rest of the story: AFP-Yahoo News.


AP: SS protestors

SS Protestors

Lorna Kurdi, shown here, left, speaks
through a megaphone as she joins a
group of demonstrators with
Missourians United to Protect Social
Security protesting President Bush's
policy on Social Security in St. Louis
Thursday, June 2, 2005.


Bush was in St. Louis at a fund
raising dinner for Sen. Jim
Talent, R-Mo.



AP Photo/Bill Boyce.


AFP: Bush backs Cheney on Kim - June 3

CheneyWASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House last night defended outspoken personal criticism of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il by Vice President Dick Cheney (shown here) that may have dashed any hopes of bringing Pyongyang back to six-party nuclear talks.

Cheney had called Kim an "irresponsible" leader who did not care for his people and ran a police state, drawing a strong rebuke Thursday from Pyongyang, which slammed the US vice president as a "blood-thirsty beast."

"We are going to call it the way it is," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters as he backed Cheney's verbal broadside made in an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" program on Monday.

Charles Pritchard, the special envoy for talks with North Korea during president Bill Clinton's second term in office, said Cheney's volley was "deliberate".

"It certainly had an effect that many in the Bush administration would like to see and that is the cooling of the possibility of the North Koreans returning to the six party talks," he said.

Rest of this AFP story.

D.H.: The rest of this story deals with whether the Bush Administration is sincere in seeking talks with N. Korea.


Slate: Beirut of Evil - June 3

By Eric Umansky
Posted Friday, at 12:56 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with the car bombing assassination of prominent Lebanese journalist-cum-politician Samir Kassir, who was known for his anti-Syrian stance. The Washington Post leads with Iraq's interior minister saying, seemingly, 12,000 civilians have been killed by insurgents since the war began. The minister said 10,500 of them were Shiites. Though the Post doesn't get curious about it, the Iraqi government has been generally tight-fisted with casualty info and the provenance of these figures was less than clear. USA Today leads with a couple of communities deciding that it might not be a great idea for police at schools to use Taser guns.

The killing in Lebanon comes just days before the kick-off of a second round of parliamentary elections.  The NYT says that in an attempt to keep things from spinning out of control, opposition leaders decided not to call for a mass protest; but they did call a general strike for Friday. They're demanding the resignation of the country's pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud. Though the two Times [LAT & NYT] don't raise the issue, newspapers in Lebanon have said there's been serious infighting recently among opposition groups, with some pointing the finger at others for Kassir's murder.

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with three dozen Iraqis were killed in insurgent attacks; there were three car bombings within an hour in Baghdad. Gunmen also opened fire on shoppers at a market in Baghdad, killing nine. Two GIs were killed in fighting near Ramadi.

The Post's decision to headline the Iraqi interior minister's claims on civilian casualties is ... interesting. Again, it doesn't look like the minister gave reporters a look at actual data. Meanwhile, though the WP doesn't mention it, last year Knight Ridder got ahold of some Iraqi government stats showing that over a six month period more Iraqis had been killed by U.S. forces than by insurgents.  The Post isn't exactly clear on whether the purported 12,000 civilians cited by minister were killed by insurgents or just during the course of the insurgency. Thankfully, the Post's reporters weren't the only ones in on the chat. The Associated Press and NYT were also there. They say he was referring to total casualties. Not that either outlet sees the claims as particularly credible anyway. Both wisely decide the casualty claim isn't fit to headline.  The LAT also met with the minister, but there's no mention of his casualty figure.  

The Post goes inside [not on page 1] with Iraq's foreign minister pleading with the U.S. to be more engaged in Iraq. He told White House officials that they should push Iraqi politicians to come up with a constitution, and he asked for more training of Iraqi forces. "There is something between too much and not enough," he said, while asking the administration to be "more focused and more engaged" and not to say "this is yours, hands off." A few weeks ago the LAT had what TP [this column] dubbed a "somewhat vague" piece saying that the U.S. was actually taking a more hands-on approach.

The end of the NYT's Iraq wrap-up has this intriguing but not surprising bit:

Satellite imagery experts have determined that material that could be used to make biological or chemical weapons and banned long-range missiles has been removed from 109 sites in Iraq, United Nations weapons inspectors said in a report obtained Thursday.

Most of the papers front [put on front page] President Bush as expected nominating Rep. Christopher Cox to take over the SEC from Bill Donaldson, who the NYT said had come to be viewed by Republicans as a "disappointingly independent choice." The Journal dubs Cox's nomination a "victory for the business lobby." Cox has a nearly untarnished record of fighting against stricter accounting rules. But the WSJ does find one exception: He once supported greater disclosure for mutual-funds. Meanwhile, the other thing that got observers riled up had less to do with Cox than with his nomination.  "I'm trying to go back in my memory to think about when the last time a sitting politician was nominated to lead the SEC," one professor told the Post.

The WSJ says that the Army, in a desperate bid to keep manpower, has made it harder to for unit commanders to dismiss slacker soldiers. An Army memo told commanders that they need to go up the chain of command if they want to bounce GIs who are drug addicts, fat, or just loafers. Slate revealed the memo yesterday and also suggested alternatives for keeping retention rates up.

The WP notices inside that the government's new counter-terrorism clearinghouse, mandated by legislation to open in two weeks, still doesn't have a director.

The WP's off-leads word that some top Democrat have received campaign contributions from Indian tribes who had apparently given based on the recommendation of lobbyist bad boy Jack Abramoff. Until now, only Republicans have been tarred by connections with Abramoff. Among the top Democratic receipts were former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle along with his replacement, Senator Harry Reid. Overall, Democrats got about a third of the money funneled by Abramoff. Despite the big play, there's nothing really unusual here. Lobbyists usually hedge their bets and donate to both sides of the aisle.

In fact, the Post never suggests the Dems who took the money did anything wrong. Instead, the paper focuses on the potential political fallout from the guilty-by-association odor generated by the story itself.  In other words, the Post effectively creates the impression of wrong-doing and then goes on to wonder what impact that will have: "DEMOCRATS ALSO GOT TRIBAL DONATIONS; Abramoff Issue May Affect Both Parties." The question isn't whether the Post should report the donations; it's how the paper should do it and with what level of prominence.

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

Don't understand Today's Papers jargon? Check out the Today's Papers glossary.

Get Today's Papers free in your mailbox.

Source:  Slate.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


AP: Dean speaks - June 2


Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean walks off stage after speaking at the Campaign For America's Future's Take Back America National Poll Event on Thursday morning, June 2, 2005, in Washington. Source: AP Photo/Kevin Wolf.


WashPost: How Felt became Deep Throat

W. Mark Felt

As a Friendship -- and the Watergate Story -- Developed, Motives of Mark Felt, shown here in old file photo, Remained a Mystery to Woodward

By Bob Woodward, Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, June 2, 2005; Page A01

In 1970, when I was serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and assigned to Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, the chief of naval operations, I sometimes acted as a courier, taking documents to the White House.

One evening I was dispatched with a package to the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, where there was a little waiting area near the Situation Room. It could be a long wait for the right person to come out and sign for the material, sometimes an hour or more, and after I had been waiting for a while a tall man with perfectly combed gray hair came in and sat down near me. His suit was dark, his shirt white and his necktie subdued. He was probably 25 to 30 years older than I and was carrying what looked like a file case or briefcase. He was very distinguished-looking and had a studied air of confidence, the posture and calm of someone used to giving orders and having them obeyed instantly.

Rest of Bob Woodward's story in the Washington Post today.


AFP: SEC chair quits - June 2


William Donaldson,

seen here, left.


The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Donaldson, quit as the top US financial market watchdog yesterday amid criticism from the business sector that his policies were too restrictive.



AFP/File/Tim Sloan

Wed Jun 1, 8:39 PM ET


AFP: China textiles dispute - June 2

Beijing dispute

US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, shown here, right.


Gutierrez arrived in Beijing in an effort to manage a growing trade dispute over US-imposed restrictions on China's booming textile exports.


Source: AFP/Frederic J. Brown -- Thu Jun 2, 3:39 AM ET.


Slate-Today's Papers: Slam Donaldson - June 2

By Eric Umansky
Posted Thursday, at 12:56 AM PT Source: Slate

The Wall Street Journal's business box and New York Times lead with the surprise "resignation" of SEC chair William Donaldson, who had been getting increasing heat from Wall Street for his regulation-happy ways. The Los Angeles Times leads with a less than surprising Iraq trend piece: Suicide bombings are on the rise . There were 90 such attacks last month, and 69 in April, which in turn is more than in the year preceding the official handover of sovereignty. According to early morning reports, a car bomb in northern Iraq killed nine. Another car bomb this morning killed the head of one provincial council.

The Washington Post leads across the top with Bob Woodward's 4,884-word proto-book excerpt on how Mark Felt came to be Deep Throat. While serving as a courier in the Navy, Woodward was once waiting to deliver some papers at the White House and found himself sitting next to the FBI guy. That's when Woodward started hitting up Felt for career advice. (Woodward was thinking of going to law school.) Thanks to Woodward's unending pestering, the two eventually became buds... and, well, here are the remaining 4,500 words.  USA Today leads with another obvious trend piece: States are increasingly cracking down on drivers who blab away on cellphones. Thirty-seven states now have regulations restricting cellphone use; Illinois' legislature passed a bill just last week.

Donaldson, who turns 74 today, hired scads of new SEC employees and issuing a record number of violations. He also often sided with the commission's two Democrats. The Times says he been had "frustrated" with opposition from Republicans and from some in the administration. Explaining his departure, Donaldson said, "I have repeatedly said I serve at the pleasure of the president and at my own pleasure." The Journal says Donaldson suggested a few months ago that he wanted to serve through 2005.

Citing what seem to be official leaks, the papers say that the White House will nominate Rep. Chris Cox to take Donaldson's place. White House counsel in the Reagan years, Cox also sponsored legislation that limited investors' ability to sue for stock fraud.

The NYT gives a play-by-play of how the Felt family went around looking to tell—and cash in on—the elder Felt's story.  The Times also gets more details about the Post's Tuesday freak out:

The Post's executive editor, [Len Downie], was speaking at a management retreat on the Eastern Shore of Maryland when his cellphone began ringing so incessantly that he turned it off. He ignored hand-passed notes from the hotel staff. Only when the Post's chairman, Donald Graham, stepped out to take a phone call did they learn of the Vanity Fair scoop. "He signals me through the door with one of those finger things," Mr. Downie said.

Given the current welcoming climate for conspiracy theories, USAT has an unfortunate teaser on Page One. Showing a picture of Felt, the headline reads: "MYSTERY SOLVED?" As it happens, the story doesn't even doubt that Felt is the man. It just wonders, as Slate's Tim Noah did, whether Woodstein engaged in a bit of misdirection.

The LAT's lead on suicide bombings includes this ominous line: "U.S. officials and Iraqi analysts say the insurgents' resources are increasing on several fronts: money to buy cars and explosives, expertise in wiring car and human bombs, and intelligence leaks that help the insurgents target U.S. and Iraqi forces." (What the paper doesn't include are any quotes backing that up.)

A frontpage Post piece looks at how Iraqi war victims aren't getting much help or attention. There is "little available data" on the number of civilians wounded in fighting. (TP recently wrote an op-ed arguing that the U.S.'s lack of interest in tracking civilian casualties is ultimately counterproductive.) Meanwhile, either due to security problems, a lack of money, or just corruption, Baghdad's main rehabilitation hospital hasn't been able to get spare part for prosthetics in nearly two years.

The NYT reefers 19 people killed in the bombing of a mosque Kandahar, Afghanistan. Among the dead was the police chief of Kabul .The attack has been part of a surge in violence, and happened at the memorial services for a well-known cleric who himself was assassinated Sunday. A Taliban spokesman said his group was responsible for the attack.

Rest of the Slate article.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


UKG: Israel's occupation wrong - June 1

Haim Yavin, longtime news anchor of Israel TV's state-owned Channel One,
is seen in this public relations photo released on Tuesday May 31, 2005.
Jewish settlers leaders demanded Tuesday Yavin be fired over a documentary
he filmed, that is harshly critical of Israel's settlement enterprise and
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (AP Photo)

Published on Wednesday, June 1, 2005 by the Guardian/UK
Top Israeli News Anchor Attacks Occupation
by Chris McGreal in Jerusalem

The revered anchor of Israel's Channel One news program for more than three decades has caused controversy by making a personalized documentary in which he concludes that Jewish settlements are endangering the country and that the occupation of Palestinian land is a crime.

"Since 1967, we have been brutal conquerors, occupiers, suppressing another people," Haim Yavin, who was a founder of Channel One and once its chief editor, says in the program.

Even before the five-part series opened last night, settler leaders were calling for the 72-year-old, known as "Mr Television", to be sacked, because they said he was no longer objective.

The documentary would be sensitive in Israel at any time, but particularly now in the weeks before the government plans to remove thousands of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and a small part of the West Bank.

Channel One turned down the documentary and it is being shown on a rival channel that recently lost its licence and is about to go off air.

The series is a the result of Yavin's visits during more than two years to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, carrying a small camera to film ordinary people - some of the 400,000 Jewish settlers, Palestinian residents and Israeli soldiers - in the territories.

Full story: UK Guardian.


Barhorst: Right Wing Induces, Complains about Illegal Immigrants

The Right Wing is always hollering and moaning about illegal immigrants taking American jobs. What they don’t tell you is that the Republican Party maneuvered this country into a situation where it is not only feasible, but, easy for the illegal immigrants to attain once good paying jobs in industry and the trades.

How did they do this? That’s easy. The Taft Hartley Act; “Right to Work” acts; Ronald Reagan’s Union breaking; and finally Bankruptcy Laws that allow Corporate America to abrogate contracts they have with Unions.

American jobs that were under “closed shop” union contracts have gone to illegal immigrants. Union officials are no longer able to enter a job site and ask about a worker’s bona fides. If a company gets itself into monetary trouble trying to please the stock analysts, now-a-days, they declare bankruptcy. The judge allows them to dump their Union contract and in comes the illegals to work without benefits or protection at low wages.

If you want repairs or additions to your home, the work will more than likely be done by illegals. These jobs used to be done by Americans making a decent wage with medical care and other benefits.

If you look at the bright shining floors in malls and superstores the work will more than likely be done by illegals (Walmart has already lost once in court on this one.)

If you see a label in your clothing that says “Made In America” in a majority of cases the clothing item was “Made In America,” by non-union illegals.

They Right Wing has done an excellent job of diverting away to the facts above while beating its chest and moaning about the illegals coming across out borders, getting jobs, and draining away our tax money. The wages and benefits lost by Americans because the Republicans greedily made it all possible by emasculating the Unions far outweigh the tax money that might come out of Republican pockets.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Owner: Lone_Star_Democrats


Slate: FOX admits right-wing bias

Scott Norvell, London bureau chief for Fox News, was outed by Slate Magazine yesterday for admitting Fox is not really "fair & balanced:"

"Even we at Fox News manage to get some lefties on the air occasionally, and often let them finish their sentences before we club them to death and feed the scraps to Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly." 

Source: Fox News Admits Bias! - Its London bureau chief blurts out the political slant that dare not speak its nameBy Timothy Noah - Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2005, at 9:40 AM PT.



Reuters: Wolfowitz protestor

World Bank protestorA Filipino protester wears a mask depicting new World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz during a rally against Wolfowitz outside the World Bank's Manila office June 1, 2005.

Wolfowitz became World bank president today and said his agenda would focus on Africa, tackling corruption and making poor countries feel less sidelined in the bank's decisions.

REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo


Slate: Deep Throat - June 1

W. Mark Felt, shown here in an old file photo, now 91, former #2 man at the FBI during the Nixon W. Mark Feltyears, disclosed himself yesterday as "Deep Throat," the anonymous source on Nixon's Watergate cover ups.

See Timothy Nash's article "Deep Throat, Antihero," in Slate, discussing the speculations for many years over who this source was and the misleading efforts of Woodward & Bernstein of the Washington Post to keep their source confidential.

Today's Papers - Deep Throat Comes...Forward
By Eric Umansky
Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2005, at 12:14 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and certainly the Washington Post lead with confirmation that Deep Throat—the WP source that helped unravel Watergate and topple President Nixon—was Mark Felt, the then FBI's number two man. Vanity Fair got the ball rolling yesterday with an article in which Felt seems to have copped to the role. The New York Times goes above-the-fold with Felt but leads with the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling voiding accounting firm Arthur Andersen's conviction for shredding Enron papers. The justices whapped the case's original judge who had declined to tell jurors that in order for there to be a conviction company officials had to have knowingly violated the law, which might not have happened. The change isn't going to matter much to Andersen now. Once home to 28,000 people, it now has a staff of about 200. The Times' Kurt Eichenwald has an analysis giving a particularly clear run-down on the question of intent. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (at least online) with President Bush's press conference, during which he...didn't really make any news. The Journal focuses on the president reiterating his support for the proposed Central American trade pact. See.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were initially taken by surprise by Felt's revelation and declined to comment. Felt, 91, is in poor health and Woodward was apparently concerned about his competency. But by late afternoon, after Felt made a quick appearance in front of reporters, the Post copped to the connection.

"The thing that stuns me is that the goddamn secret has lasted this long," said former Post editor Ben Bradlee, the only person Woodstein are known to have let in on the secret. The NYT has a solid, almost tick-tock on the media angle. "I had no idea [the story] was coming." said one WP editor.

Felt was apparently motivated to blab by some mix of: 1) his disgust at the White House's shenanigans 2) his loyalty to the FBI, whose investigation into Watergate the White House was tracking and trying to undermine.

Of course, as everybody notes, Watergate wasn't anything near a single source story. "When we wrote the book, we didn't think his role would achieve such mythical dimensions," said Bernstein. "You see there that Felt/Deep Throat largely confirmed information we had already gotten from other sources."

As for why Felt hadn't come forward before, he was a law-and-order man and seems to have been conflicted about leaking. He also has had a few image issues himself. Felt was convicted in 1980 of authorizing illegal break-ins of suspected Weather Underground militants. He was pardoned by Ronald Reagan. Slate's Tim Noah, who long pointed to Felt before he started to doubt himself, notices that Woodward engaged in some small-bore misdirection or shall we say, lying.

Felt had also long denied he was Deep Throat. "I never leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein or to anyone else!" he wrote in his memoir.

The NYT says inside that with food aid to North Korea drying up, the Pyongyang is again flirting with a famine. One aid official (on a campaign to drum up concern?) said there will only be enough food to feed 1.5 million people this summer, compared to 6.5 million this past spring. The paper doesn't explain why the aid is drying up. But the Journal reported a few weeks ago the U.S. has decided to halt nearly all food shipments purportedly because it's concerned about the lack of oversight. The move comes as the U.S. seems to be trying to further isolate Pyongyang.

Knight Ridder has U.S. commanders complaining on the record about the lack of troops in western Iraq. "There's no way 400 people can cover that much ground," said one major whose regiment is responsible for a 10,000 square-mile area. The LAT and WP have mentioned the lack of troops but, as TP recalls, only in passing.

A week after the heavy rumors of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's impending demise, the NYT says American spooks think that the "firm toned" voice heard in a recent tape denying the rumors is indeed that of Zarqawi.

The NYT fronts the news that, as expected, French President Chirac canned Prime Minister Raffarian. He was replaced by Dominique De Villepin, the former foreign minister and best known on this side of the Atlantic for his lobbying against the invasion of Iraq. The State Department gave De Villepin a rousing a welcome. "We all know that when he was foreign minister, we had a variety of actions with him," said a spokesman. "It's up to the French government to decide who they want in their government."

Source: Slate. Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Bush press conference - May 31

Bush pointingU.S. President George W. Bush answers a question during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 31, 2005. President Bush rejected talk he is losing his political clout early in his second term, insisted 'things don't happen instantly in Washington' and vowed to fight on for his top priorities. Bush went into the White House Rose Garden for what has become a monthly news conference beset with doubts about his agenda given solid Democratic opposition to his major goals and some Republican defections. Source:  Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters.
The BBC reports tonight that US President Bush has dismissed as "absurd" an Amnesty International report that said the US was setting back the cause of human rights.

The human rights group described the US Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba as "the gulag of our time".

There have been allegations that guards at the camp had desecrated the Koran, prompting protests in Muslim countries.

But Mr Bush said on Tuesday: "The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world."

But Amnesty hit back. Executive director William Schulz said: "What is 'absurd' is President Bush's attempt to deny the deliberate policies of his administration."

"What is 'absurd' and indeed outrageous is the Bush administration's failure to undertake a full independent investigation."

Source: Google News.


WashPost confirms "deep throat" - May 31

Ben Bradlee, shown below, Vice President At Large of The Washington Post, speaks while Bob Woodward (L) and Carl Bernstein (C) laugh in this file photo.
The Washington Post today confirmed that Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was 'Deep Throat,' the secretive source who provided information that helped unravel the Watergate scandal. The confirmation came from Woodward and Bernstein, the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, and their former top editor, Bradlee. Only three people -- Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee -- knew his identity, and they vowed not to name 'Deep Throat' until after his death.
Source:  REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/File.


Reuters: Felt family confirms "deep throat"

Joan Felt, shown here, daughter of Former FBI deputy director Mark Felt, talks to the press in front of their home after returning from shopping in Santa Rosa, California, May 31, 2005.

Felt family

Felt's grandson Nick Jones earlier read a statement to the press in which he confirmed that his grandfather was the informant Deep Throat the legendary source who leaked Watergate scandal secrets to the Washington Post and helped bring down President Richard Nixon.

Source: Lou Dematteis/Reuters.

Tue May 31, 6:04 PM ET.


Barhorst: Will Rogers-Real Americans

Exactly 80 years ago Will Rogers was asked about the "Real Americans" that the party in power was talking about so much. This is how he answered in one of his newspaper columns:

The first thing I find out is there ain't any such animal. This American Animal that I thought I had here is nothing but the big Honest Majority, that you might find in any Country. He is not a Politician, He is not a 100 percent American. He is not any organization, either uplift or downfall. In fact I find he don't belong or be anything. He is no decided Political faith or religion. I can't even find out what religious brand is on him. From his earmarks he has never made a speech, and announced that he was An American. He hasn't denounced anything. It looks to me like he is just an Animal that has been going along, believing in right, doing right, tending to his own business, letting the other fellows alone.

He don't seem to be simple enough minded to believe that EVERYTHING is right and he don't appear to be Cuckoo enough to think that EVERYTHING is wrong. He don't seem to be a Prodigy, and he don't seem to be a Simp. In fact, all I can find out about him is that he is just NORMAL. After I let him up and get on my Horse and ride away I look around and I see hundred and hundreds of exactly the same marks and Brands. In fact they so far outnumber the freakly branded ones that the only conclusion I can come to is that this Normal breed is so far in the majority that there is no use to worry about the others. They are a lot of Mavericks, and Strays.


This is just as real and honest today as it was in 1925.

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


Cagle: Bush & stem cells

Culture of life

Source: Slate-Cagle


Globe-Nader: Impeach Bush for Iraq lies

The 'I' word

THE IMPEACHMENT of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, should be part of mainstream political discourse.

Minutes from a summer 2002 meeting involving British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveal that the Bush administration was ''fixing" the intelligence to justify invading Iraq. US intelligence used to justify the war demonstrates repeatedly the truth of the meeting minutes -- evidence was thin and needed fixing.

President Clinton was impeached for perjury about his sexual relationships. Comparing Clinton's misbehavior to a destructive and costly war occupation launched in March 2003 under false pretenses in violation of domestic and international law certainly merits introduction of an impeachment resolution.

Eighty-nine members of Congress have asked the president whether intelligence was manipulated to lead the United States to war. The letter points to British meeting minutes that raise ''troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war." Those minutes describe the case for war as ''thin" and Saddam as ''nonthreatening to his neighbors," and ''Britain and America had to create conditions to justify a war." Finally, military action was ''seen as inevitable . . . But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Indeed, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor any imminent threat to the United States:

The International Atomic Energy Agency Iraq inspection team reported in 1998, ''there were no indications of Iraq having achieved its program goals of producing a nuclear weapon; nor were there any indications that there remained in Iraq any physical capability for production of amounts of weapon-usable material." A 2003 update by the IAEA reached the same conclusions.

The CIA told the White House in February 2001: ''We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has . . . reconstitute[d] its weapons of mass destruction programs."

Colin Powell said in February 2001 that Saddam Hussein ''has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

The CIA told the White House in two Fall 2002 memos not to make claims of Iraq uranium purchases. CIA Director George Tenet personally called top national security officials imploring them not to use that claim as proof of an Iraq nuclear threat.

Regarding unmanned bombers highlighted by Bush, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center concluded they could not carry weapons spray devices. The Defense Intelligence Agency told the president in June 2002 that the unmanned aerial bombers were unproven. Further, there was no reliable information showing Iraq was producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or whether it had established chemical agent production facilities.

When discussing WMD the CIA used words like ''might" and ''could." The case was always circumstantial with equivocations, unlike the president and vice president, e.g., Cheney said on Aug. 26, 2002: ''Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

The State Department in 2003 said: ''The activities we have detected do not . . . add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing . . . an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons."

The National Intelligence Estimate issued in October 2002 said ''We have no specific intelligence information that Saddam's regime has directed attacks against US territory."

The UN, IAEA, the State and Energy departments, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center, US inspectors, and even the CIA concluded there was no basis for the Bush-Cheney public assertions. Yet, President Bush told the public in September 2002 that Iraq ''could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given." And, just before the invasion, President Bush said: ''Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

The president and vice president have artfully dodged the central question: ''Did the administration mislead us into war by manipulating and misstating intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to Al Qaeda, suppressing contrary intelligence, and deliberately exaggerating the danger a contained, weakened Iraq posed to the United States and its neighbors?"

If this is answered affirmatively Bush and Cheney have committed ''high crimes and misdemeanors." It is time for Congress to investigate the illegal Iraq war as we move toward the third year of the endless quagmire that many security experts believe jeopardizes US safety by recruiting and training more terrorists. A Resolution of Impeachment would be a first step. Based on the mountains of fabrications, deceptions, and lies, it is time to debate the ''I" word.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate. Kevin Zeese is director of DemocracyRising.US.  Source: Boston Globe.


CD: Shi'ites retaliate on KFC - May 31

An ambulance leaves the scene of a burning KFC fast food outlet following a suicide bomb attack at a mosque in Karachi May 30, 2005. At least five people, including two assailants, were killed in a suicide bomb attack on Monday at a Muslim mosque in southern Pakistan, the latest religious violence to rock the country, officials said.  Six KFC employees were killed in the riot. [Reuters]
burning KFC fast food outlet in Karachi May 30
It was the latest incident of religious violence to hit Pakistan, one of Washington's main allies in its war on terrorism, and came after a suicide bombing at a Muslim festival in the capital Islamabad on Friday that killed at least 19 people, mostly Shi'ite Muslims.
Mobs of angry Shi'ite youths stoned and set fire to a nearby outlet of the American fast food chain KFC, shown above, and also attacked a hospital and two petrol stations.
Full China Daily story.



AP: Gov. Gregoire - May 31

Gov. Gregoire-----

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, shown here in this file photo in Seattle.


The unprecedented legal challenge to Washington's 2004 gubernatorial election heads into its second week on Tuesday May 31, 2005, as Democrats try to defend the 129-vote victory of Gov. Christine Gregoire.


(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)


Slate-Today's Papers: Oops - May 31

Non Committal - By Eric Umansky
Posted Tuesday, at 12:44 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times leads with GIs arresting a top Sunni politician yesterday and then releasing 12 hours later with apologies. The military said no-harm no-foul; it was just a case of mistaken identity.  The politician said three of his sons were also picked up. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and New York Times all lead with fallout from the French's smackdown of the proposed E.U. constitution. The Netherlands is scheduled to vote Wednesday and is also likely to reject the document.  The likely dual non votes mean there's a solid possibility that that the constitution will die. That's prompting lots of gloomy talk about European integration stalling. USA Today leads with a near-evergreen on the increasing chintziness of the minimum wage. At $5.15 per hour, it was last upped in 1997 and in terms of buying power is at its lowest point since 1949. The paper's hook: Eleven states have raised the minimum on their own in the past year and a half, and on Wednesday Wisconsin will become the 12th. Interesting factoid flown by: Only two million people earned the minimum wage last year, a bit less than half the number in 1997.

The Journal focuses on the potential economic fallout of the French vote, saying it could put Europe's economic liberalization on ice. The Euro fell to a seven-month low yesterday.  Here's a Slate cheat sheet on the constitution and the votes around it.

Then there's the fallout in France itself. President Chirac had been leading the drive for the constitution, and now might not make it to the next elections. In a bid to survive (and blame others) he is reportedly about to sack Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and reshuffle his cabinet. What did Mr. Raffarin have to say about that? "I'm going for a stroll around Paris," he said. "See you later."

The NYT's off-lead peels back the picture a bit on some of the shell companies behind the CIA's roughly two-dozen plane air wing. The spooks didn't exactly do a flawless job covering their tracks: "Whoever created the companies used some of the same post office box addresses and the same apparently fictitious officers for two or more of the companies." (For an overview of the companies, see this handy, headache-inducing chart.) The Times doesn't have any bombshells and there have been a few other pieces about the CIA's jets. But it does dole out some good details on the main front: Aero Contractors Ltd, son of Air America.

The LAT fronts a little-noticed provision in the recent military spending bill that allows oil and gas drilling in a national park off the Gulf of Mexico. The area is zoned as "wilderness," meaning it has the highest level of federal protection. It's the first time moves have been made to drill on such sites. 

The NYT notices that despite drugmakers' promises to publish all data from their pill studies, most companies are still keeping results on the down-low

Meanwhile, a frontpage USAT piece looks at the FDA's apparently overtaxed drug-ad review office. The unit sent out only 23 warning letters last year, about a third the number mailed in 2000 (though the recent ones more frequently demand action).  The paper says the review office has "only 40 employees." That sounds... who knows. Is it more or less than previous years?

Rest of the Slate article.

Monday, May 30, 2005


Reuters: carbombing - May 30

Local residents look at a vehicle destroyed in a suicide attack against police in the southern Iraqi town of Hilla, 100km (60 miles) south of Baghdad May 30, 2005.
Two suicide bombers strapped with explosives blew themselves up in a crowd of protesting former policemen in Hilla, killing 21 in one of the deadliest attacks in a month of escalating violence. The blasts in the mostly Shi'ite town of Hilla put fresh strain on Iraq's sectarian divisions. Photo by Stringer/Iraq/Reuters


Haigler: Why polite?

Haigler had "inflammatory rhetoric" for Stenholm:
Dear Charlie,
You chide us Democrats for not responding to the President's overture on Social Security reform, in your op-ed piece in the DMN.
You seem to think "personal accounts" is a first step.
I respectfully disagree.  The president's proposal is a first step, only in the direction of shutting Social Security down.  That kind of "step" does not merit a serious response, and I think we Democrats are entirely justified to say, "no, and hell no."
When a burglar jimmies my door in the middle of the night, he is not inviting me to come open the door and negotiate over taking my property.  He's only inviting a 9 mm semi-automatic or a 911 call.  We can discuss which of those is the politer response, but not whether either is legitimate. 
The government has forced me to contribute to Social Security, and in return promised to pay me a stated formula for computing my retirement income at a stated age and/or a reduced amount if I become disabled prior to normal retirement.  When they take my money through my working years and then renege when payup time comes, it's nothing but theft, and when the average American figures this is what Bush is up to, it's going to be hell to pay.
2042 is a time of reckoning because of this "no new taxes" mentality we've had since Bush Sr.  It's a fraud mentality, because it just causes taxes in other forms somewhere else, like the un-funded mandates. 
I think calling thefts and frauds what they really are is a first step to a solution.  You may think this is "inflammatory rhetoric that prevents us from finding workable solutions," but I call it telling the truth -- something I always thought you were in favor of.
Hugs to Cindy, please.
Dave Haigler


Spier: cut the caps

Roger Spier, shown here, had a polite response to Stenholm:
I read with interest your op-ed piece in the Dallas Morning news regarding Social security. Although you state that all options should be on the table you specifically seemd to ignore the most obvious solution, the raising of the cap on taxable income. Raising the cap to $150,000, or for that matter simply eliminating the cap would restore fiscal soundness to the program without severe discomfort to the more afluent. For some reason this plan seems to be abhorent to mv conservative friends who consideer taxing the higher incomes aborent while pulling the rug out from under the less fortunate.
Roger D. Spier, M.D.
Abilene, Texas


DN-Stenholm: let's be nice

File photo of Stenholm's 66th birthday
Oct 26, 2004, in Abilene, Texas.
Stenholm cake
Charlie Stenholm had an op-ed piece in yesterday's Dallas News suggesting we should have a polite debate with the president over Social Security Reform:
Charlie Stenholm: Enough with the rhetoric

Both parties must open their eyes to the sacrifice and innovation that Social Security reform will require

10:01 PM CDT on Sunday, May 29, 2005

Having worked for the last nine years trying to find a bipartisan solution to the challenges facing Social Security, I was very encouraged when President Bush put his political capital on the line to make Social Security reform the top domestic priority of his administration.

The reform debate over the last few months has been frustrating. The president chose to lead with individual accounts, with only passing references to the tough choices necessary to restore solvency. Many Republicans went so far as to claim that enacting individual accounts would make any tough choices unnecessary. The response from my party has been even more discouraging, downplaying the need for action and criticizing every idea put forward without offering a constructive alternative.

The president's April 28 news conference re-injected hope into the debate. By proposing restraints on the growth of benefits for wealthier retirees to close much of the funding gap and expressing his willingness to work with Congress on additional changes, President Bush acknowledged that there is no free lunch in Social Security reform.

Anyone who tells you that there is a painless way to fix Social Security isn't telling the whole truth. Maintaining the status quo will force future Congresses to cut other important government programs, raise additional taxes or issue massive amounts of new debt to meet the obligations to future retirees.

The approach outlined by the president, preserving and strengthening benefits for those who are most dependent on Social Security, should appeal to Republicans and Democrats who want to deal responsibly with the financial challenges facing Social Security while protecting the most vulnerable Americans.

President Bush acknowledged that additional changes would be necessary to restore solvency and offered to work with Congress to close the remaining shortfall. Now it is up to Congress to respond to the president's challenge. Members of Congress concerned about the president's proposal should make constructive suggestions about how to improve the plan.

Tough choices will be necessary to eliminate Social Security's deficit, whether or not individual accounts are included in a reform plan. Including individual accounts in a reform plan does not require deeper benefit reductions than would otherwise be required, but neither do they make such reductions unnecessary. However, individual accounts can help make the task easier for policymakers and limit the impact on future beneficiaries.

I respect those who honestly oppose individual accounts as part of Social Security. But opposing personal accounts is not a substitute for offering a positive solution dealing with the challenges that will face Social Security. Without individual accounts, the projected benefits Social Security can offer will drop unless taxes are increased. At the same time, simply expressing support for individual accounts while ruling out any tough choices on restraining the growth of benefit costs is equally irresponsible.

All options should be on the table. Social Security reform is bound to inflame passions, including my own. But it is important that all participants in this debate avoid inflammatory rhetoric that prevents us from finding workable solutions. Reaching agreement will require sacrifices by both parties. All parties must resist the temptation to immediately shoot down ideas they don't like. At least don't shoot 'em on the ground. Let the idea fly in the public debate long enough to consider its merits.

Former Texas Democratic Congressman Charlie Stenholm serves as an adviser to For Our Grandchildren, a Social Security reform and education project. He can be contacted at admin@ forourgrandchildren.org.

Source: Dallas News opinions.


AP: Parade photo

Korean War veteran Robert McCoy of Bowie, Md., shown below,
rides atop a float, featuring Purple Heart recipients, down Independence Avenue in front of the U.S. Capitol in the first ever National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, Monday, May 30, 2005, honoring American veterans from the revolutionary era through Operation Iraqi Freedom. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)


CNN-Shields: McCain Viable - May 30


by Mark Shields of CNN's "Inside Politics"

Putting 2008 behind us

To hear the ratatat of right-wing attacks on the judges compromise is to conclude that by his part in that deal, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) effectively ended any and all hopes his admirers might have held for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

With characteristic restraint, Pat Buchanan called the compromise "a Republican Munich." Sounding like a capo from "The Sopranos," Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council identified McCain by name to Ron Fournier of AP and hinted darkly that "there will be repercussions."

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family termed the deal "a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans."

Sorry, folks, but any political obituary on John McCain for 2008 is both premature and wrong.

Of course, if GOP primary voters in 2008 are looking for a candidate who votes "right" for every possible tax cut, advocates contradictory Big Government Conservatism and simultaneously shelters our adolescents from the temptations of the Victoria's Secret catalog, while saddling these same children with the burden of ever-swelling public debt simply because we are too selfish to pay our own bills, then McCain will never be the first choice.

He has actually voted against Republican tax cuts. He votes against spending. In the considered judgment of the iconoclastic Marshall Wittman, his former press secretary, McCain's a "neo-Goldwaterite," who, like his fellow Arizonan, is "a limited government hawk with deep reservations about the rising dominance within the party of the moral conservatives."

After Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, Jerry Falwell declared that every good Christian ought to oppose her nomination. Mr. Conservative, Barry Goldwater, a supporter of gay rights, responded, "Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell's ass." It is no accident that John McCain today sits behind Barry Goldwater's desk.

Those who write off McCain as someone who can only win a Republican primary when independents and Democrats can vote ignore South Carolina in 2000.

Then, in that undeniably socially and culturally conservative place where only registered Republicans vote and where George W. Bush -- with unlimited campaign funds -- had the all-out backing of the state and national party machinery, McCain still won 43 percent of the vote.

In 2008, there will probably be a number of candidates with some support from the religious right, including Sens. George Allen of Virginia, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Bill Frist of Tennessee, but none will likely command the overwhelming financial and political support Bush enjoyed in 2000. It's a good bet that in a semi-crowded primary field, that 43 percent would be enough to win South Carolina.

The other GOP 2008 contenders will compete to be the favorite son of Wall Street, or Easy Street, the home address of the taxaphobics, or Church Street, where some oppose pre-marital sex because it could lead to dancing. McCain will be the favorite of none of these.

His political base (outside of that part of the press corps who appreciate his candor and guts) is on Main Street, where voters still value conscience, independence and the strength to tell powerful interest groups to go to hell.

That's what John McCain has spent his career doing. Whether he will do the same in the White House is in large part up to the voters in the 2008 Republican primaries.

Full Mark Shields article.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Donate to DemLog, a project of Marcus Comton (click on box below to go to PayPal and donate). Thank you very much: