Saturday, June 11, 2005
AFP: Iraqis train - June 11
Iraqi soldiers, left, are put through their paces during a training session.
US Brigadier General Daniel Bolger, now in charge of the army's program to help train, equip and organize the Iraqi army, said that strong human contacts were being built between the two former foes.
Source: AFP/File/Essam al-Sudani. Sat Jun 11, 5:57 PM ET.
Dean: Dems want me tough - June 11
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer - 43 minutes ago
WASHINGTON -said Saturday that positive responses from key supporters have reinforced his determination to keep talking tough despite suggestions from some congressional Democrats that the party chairman should tone down his rhetoric.
"People want us to fight," Dean told the national party's executive committee. "We are here to fight."
Over the past week, Dean described Republicans as "pretty much a white, Christian party" and said many in the GOP "never made an honest living."
Several Democratic lawmakers distanced themselves from their chairman. Republican officials called on him to apologize. After weathering the criticism, Dean forged ahead with the GOP scolding at the meeting ofleaders.
Yet some Democrats say the former Vermont governor should not remain the center of attention.
"Privately, people have said they don't want Howard Dean to become the story because we have more important issues to talk about," said Donna Brazile, who managed's presidential campaign in 2000.
"But publicly we will continue to give Howard Dean our strong support," she said.
One of Dean's predecessors at the DNC, Don Fowler said, "The controversy over this statement or that statement is a blip and only a blip." But Fowler complained about leading Democrats who aired their gripes last week. "Even if they don't like it, they should have enough sense not to make those comments," Fowler said.
At the session in a downtown hotel, Dean accused Republicans of trying to suppress the vote, selling access to the White House for lobbyists and basically being dishonest with the public.
"The reason the Republicans are in trouble is because there are so many cases where they say one thing and do something else," Dean said.
He said's education initiative, the "No Child Left Behind" program, cuts school spending and a clean environment plan, the "Clear Skies Initiative," permits more pollution.
A spokeswoman for thesaid Dean would rather sling mud than discuss serious matters.
"Dean's inflammatory rhetoric makes it clear that Democrats have no vision and would rather pander to the maniacal fringe than talk about the important issues facing our country," Tracey Schmitt said.
AP: Dean At DNC
Pitt: Dean Was Right
By William Rivers Pitt
Saturday 11 June 2005
If the leadership qualities of those in charge of the national Democratic Party could be squeezed into a shampoo bottle, the directions on the back of the bottle might read something like this:
- Make tentative statement.
- Offer equivocation to avoid appearing adamant.
- Scramble for cover when colleague offers stinging critique of opposition.
- Stab colleague in back in public.
- Palpitate and fret, hem and haw.
- Lather, rinse, repeat.
Quite a recipe for success, yes? Not lately.
For the last several years, the Democratic Party has been, for the most part, leaving skid marks on the street as they have retreated from confrontation after confrontation with the radicals who now control the Republican party. This retreat has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime to the utterly outrageous.
Here and there resistance has been put forth - on the Social Security issue, on the stem cell legislation, on the nomination of Bolton as UN ambassador - but all too often the most effective resistance to these and other disastrous policy initiatives has come from other Republicans, and not from the Democrats. It was the eloquence of Republican Senator Voinovich that threw sand in the gears of the Bolton nomination, and it was Republican Senator Specter's promised override of any Bush veto of the stem cell legislation that has made that issue a problem for the White House.
And then along comes Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC, outspoken and uncompromising, swinging Willie Stark's meat ax with a will and a purpose. He dared to say that he hates Republicans, that the leadership of that party hasn't worked a day in their lives, that the GOP has become a radical hothouse of right-wing Christians, almost all of whom are white, and that House majority leader Tom DeLay should go back to Texas and get his looming prison sentence over with. Insert palpitations. Suddenly, Democrats like Joe Biden and Bill Richardson start knocking over furniture and old ladies in their rush to get to a microphone so they can distance themselves from the wild man.
Yes, yes, lather and rinse and repeat. The problem with all the equivocation is that it obscures a simple fact that requires exposure and discussion in this country: Dean was right. Ninety nine percent of Republicans in the state legislatures in all 50 states, and in Congress in Washington DC, are white. Even in states and districts with large minority populations, the Republican representatives for those places are almost uniformly white Christians.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak.
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer Fri Jun 10,10:40 PM ET
McLEAN, Va. -campaigned on Friday against weakening the Patriot Act, saying Congress must renew parts of the counterterrorism law that are set to expire on behalf of those "on the front line" of the fight to avert new attacks.
"One of the most important tools to combat terror is the Patriot Act," Bush said in remarks at the National Counterterrorism Center outside Washington. "The Patriot Act has helped save American lives and it has protected American liberties. For the sake of our national security, the United States Congress needs to renew all the provisions of the Patriot Act and, this time, Congress needs to make those provisions permanent."
Responding to Bush's back-to-back speeches, Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., accused the president of focusing on provisions of the Patriot Act that are not controversial, and ignoring those who want to fix parts of the act that "infringe on the freedoms of law-abiding Americans."
By Tim Grieve
Impeachment impractical? Don't tell Conyers
We've said it before, and the constitutional experts are saying it now: Whatever the strength of the case for impeaching George W. Bush, it ain't gonna happen. But that doesn't mean that it shouldn't happen, and it doesn't mean that Democrats -- or any Americans, for that matter -- shouldn't be making the case.
So let's hear it, once again, for John Conyers. The gentleman from Michigan isn't calling for Bush's impeachment yet, but he's asking the right questions and vowing to go wherever the answers might lead. Last month, Conyers wrote a letter to Bush, asking him to answer the charges raised in the not-so-famous Downing Street memo. So far, more than 160,000 Americans have signed on to the letter. And so far, Bush hasn't responded.
In an interview with BuzzFlash today, Conyers describes the next steps: "Well, the next thing that needs to be done is that we need to talk with some of the people in London in the Prime Minister’s top echelons of government and others around there in London about this whole subject matter," he says. "We need to not be pulling this off the Internet, reading it from newspaper reports. We need to do some face time with the people that are connected with it or know about it, or can add to our understanding of it. And then also inevitably we’re going to have to have hearings. There will need to be hearings in which this matter is talked about before the Judiciary Committee, and . . . we have witnesses of all persuasions to help shed some light on this. This is a critical part of the democratic process in a constitutional democracy."
The mainstream press has all but ignored the Downing Street memo, sometimes dismissing it as old news from a not-so-credible source. Conyers says that's not good enough: "You can’t be silent about something that’s from the British intelligence notes," he says. "You can’t say we refuse to talk about it, or it has no credibility, when everybody that was involved in it, from what we can tell, are all perfectly silent and are acquiescing by their silence in the accuracy of what’s being reported."
Between the blogs and his own investigation, Conyers seems confident that the truth -- about the memo, about the war and the lies that led up to it -- will eventually come out and sink in. "Things are going to turn, and we think that it’s a matter of such seriousness," Conyers tells BuzzFlash. "This is not just picking on the President or playing petty partisan politics. This is a matter of profound truth. We’ve lost thousands of lives, and we stand to lose many more yet in a war that the President refuses to tell the Congress what his plans are for getting out of Iraq. He wouldn’t tell us he was going into Iraq, and now he won’t tell us how he plans to get out of Iraq. Something’s wrong here, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it no matter how much of our time and energy it takes."
-- Tim Grieve
[12:54 EDT, June 9, 2005]
President Bush, below left, telling reporters at the White House he is concerned about news reports saying Syria is still trying to influence political developments in Lebanon. Picture source.
Watching the Watchers: Bush is Arrogant, Hypocritical
In a display of his colossal arrogance yet again, President George W. Bush issued another warning to Damascus yesterday, warning them to pull intelligence personnel out of Lebanon.
Bush talks a good game on freedom, and likes to tell other countries how they should run their elections, their governments, and treat their people. Meanwhile, we have how many people locked up in our gulag in Cuba without being charged with a crime? How many people abused and tortured by a military acting out the whims of their superiors? Op-Ed source.
THE MEETING Friday between President Bush and South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun was an occasion for fence-mending, for overcoming what Roh afterward called ''differences between Korea and the United States surrounding the North Korea nuclear issue." The US-South Korea alliance would not be in need of mending, however, if Bush and his advisers had not splintered the fence. Full Boston Globe editorial.
Boehlert: GOP war on PBS and NPR
It appears the GOP is moving in for the kill on public broadcasting. In a stunning vote yesterday in the House, Republicans opted to drastically cut back on what had already been dwindling funds dedicated to public radio and television.
According to the Washington Post's page 1 story today, "A House subcommittee voted yesterday to sharply reduce the federal government's financial support for public broadcasting, including eliminating taxpayer funds that help underwrite such popular children's educational programs as 'Sesame Street,' 'Reading Rainbow,' 'Arthur' and 'Postcards From Buster.'"
Even more dramatic was this move:
"In addition, the subcommittee acted to eliminate within two years all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which passes federal funds to public broadcasters -- starting with a 25 percent reduction in CPB's budget for next year, from $400 million to $300 million."
The CPB is an umbrella group created by Congress not only to promote public broadcasting in Washington, but also to function as a fundraiser to help produce programming. The CPB is especially important to smaller market radio and television outlets which cannot raise as much money from local donors.
If both the GOP cuts were enacted, it would mean the effective end to American public broadcasting as we have known it for the last 35 years. "The appropriation subcommittee zeroing out of public broadcasting funding is part of a GOP one-two punch to kill PBS and mortally wound NPR," Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and a public broadcasting advocate, tells War Room.
Republicans insist the vote yesterday simply represented a belt-tightening move. But their fixation with public broadcasting comes against the backdrop of CPB boss Kenneth Tomlinson's ongoing personal crusade against what he says is liberal bias at PBS and NPR. Despite two rounds of polling paid for by the CPB which prove that allegation to be false, Tomlinson, instead of acting as public broadcasting's good will ambassador inside the Beltway, has been trash talking it for months. On Thursday, picking up on Tomlinson's attacks, Republican let public broadcasting have it. A spokeswoman for NPR, Andi Sporkin, laid the blame directly at the feet of Tomlinson, telling the Post, "We've never been sure of Mr. Tomlinson's intent but, with this news, we might be seeing his effect."
-- Eric Boehlert
[11:35 EDT, June 10, 2005]
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, on the left of the picture, below, right, speaks with Paul Wolfowitz, upper right of the picture, president of the World Bank, during the Pre G8 summit Finance Minister's Meeting at London's Lancaster House, 11 June, 2005.
Group of Eight finance ministers agreed on a deal for multilateral debt relief totalling billions of dollars for the world's poorest nations, a European source told AFP.
Source: AFP-Pool/Matthew Fearn.
Boehlert: CNN likes itself
In an interview timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of CNN, CNN chief Jon Klein has high praise for . . . CNN.
"We're rollicking, aggressive pursuers of facts," Klein tells MarketWatch.com. "No one else does that. Plenty of people talk about that. We're the only ones who go out and report the news. Our editorial chops are alive and well. We're kicking butt every day. The American people want serious news -- and they're not getting enough of it from cable."
Not to be rude, but does Klein actually watch CNN? Just off the top of our heads, we're thinking about the release of a certain memo from Downing Street that handed reporters, on a silver platter, an intriguing story about how Bush administration officials had decided to invade Iraq long before the bombs started dropping and were more concerned about justifying a war than preventing one.
For a solid month, CNN effectively boycotted the story. And even this week, when British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived at the White House and was asked about the telling memo, CNN continued with its allergic reaction to the story. Since the memo was leaked on May 1, CNN has broadcast approximately 984 hours of news, during which time the Downing memo was mentioned 13 times.
By contrast, when word got out that a young American woman vacationing in Aruba had gone missing, it was all hands on deck at CNN, which in just the last seven days has reported on the story more than 110 times.
So much for "kicking butt every day."
-- Eric Boehlert
[11:08 EDT, June 10, 2005]
A new cow has tested positive for madcow disease in the United States, the US Department of Agriculture announced.
Source: AFP/File/Robyn Beck.
Krugman: Losing Our Country
New York Times -- June 10, 2005
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Baby boomers like me grew up in a relatively equal society. In the 1960's America was a place in which very few people were extremely wealthy, many blue-collar workers earned wages that placed them comfortably in the middle class, and working families could expect steadily rising living standards and a reasonable degree of economic security.
But as The Times's series on class in America reminds us, that was another country. The middle-class society I grew up in no longer exists.
Working families have seen little if any progress over the past 30 years. Adjusted for inflation, the income of the median family doubled between 1947 and 1973. But it rose only 22 percent from 1973 to 2003, and much of that gain was the result of wives' entering the paid labor force or working longer hours, not rising wages.
Meanwhile, economic security is a thing of the past: year-to-year fluctuations in the incomes of working families are far larger than they were a generation ago. All it takes is a bit of bad luck in employment or health to plunge a family that seems solidly middle-class into poverty.
But the wealthy have done very well indeed. Since 1973 the average income of the top 1 percent of Americans has doubled, and the income of the top 0.1 percent has tripled.
Why is this happening? I'll have more to say on that another day, but for now let me just point out that middle-class America didn't emerge by accident. It was created by what has been called the Great Compression of incomes that took place during World War II, and sustained for a generation by social norms that favored equality, strong labor unions and progressive taxation. Since the 1970's, all of those sustaining forces have lost their power.
Since 1980 in particular, U.S. government policies have consistently favored the wealthy at the expense of working families - and under the current administration, that favoritism has become extreme and relentless. From tax cuts that favor the rich to bankruptcy "reform" that punishes the unlucky, almost every domestic policy seems intended to accelerate our march back to the robber baron era.
It's not a pretty picture - which is why right-wing partisans try so hard to discredit anyone who tries to explain to the public what's going on.
These partisans rely in part on obfuscation: shaping, slicing and selectively presenting data in an attempt to mislead. For example, it's a plain fact that the Bush tax cuts heavily favor the rich, especially those who derive most of their income from inherited wealth. Yet this year's Economic Report of the President, in a bravura demonstration of how to lie with statistics, claimed that the cuts "increased the overall progressivity of the federal tax system."
The partisans also rely in part on scare tactics, insisting that any attempt to limit inequality would undermine economic incentives and reduce all of us to shared misery. That claim ignores the fact of U.S. economic success after World War II. It also ignores the lesson we should have learned from recent corporate scandals: sometimes the prospect of great wealth for those who succeed provides an incentive not for high performance, but for fraud.
Above all, the partisans engage in name-calling. To suggest that sustaining programs like Social Security, which protects working Americans from economic risk, should have priority over tax cuts for the rich is to practice "class warfare." To show concern over the growing inequality is to engage in the "politics of envy."
But the real reasons to worry about the explosion of inequality since the 1970's have nothing to do with envy. The fact is that working families aren't sharing in the economy's growth, and face growing economic insecurity. And there's good reason to believe that a society in which most people can reasonably be considered middle class is a better society - and more likely to be a functioning democracy - than one in which there are great extremes of wealth and poverty.
Reversing the rise in inequality and economic insecurity won't be easy: the middle-class society we have lost emerged only after the country was shaken by depression and war. But we can make a start by calling attention to the politicians who systematically make things worse in catering to their contributors. Never mind that straw man, the politics of envy. Let's try to do something about the politics of greed.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
By Andrew Rice -- Posted Saturday, at 2:12 AM PT
today's papers - A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
As many as 50 senior managers at NASA may eventually lose their jobs, the WP says, which would be "a housecleaning rivaling the purge after the 1986 Challenger explosion." Michael Griffin, President Bush's new NASA chief, wants his own team in place before pushing Bush's ambitious mission to Mars. Classily, the "senior NASA officials" sourced on the story declined to be identified, because the people targeted for replacement won't be informed until Monday. Have a nice weekend, Buck Rogers!
The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with a big settlement in an Enron-related lawsuit yesterday. Financial services giant Citigroup will pay $2 billion to Enron shareholders for abetting the erstwhile energy giant's accounting shenanigans. The Washington Post leads with NASA's decision to can 20 top officials, in what the paper says is just the "first stage of a broad agency shake-up."
The lawsuit alleged that Citigroup committed fraud when it participated in a series of loans to Enron that the company disguised as more benign-looking transactions. The LAT has the most detail on these complicated "swap" deals. The paper also plays up a local angle, a potential big recovery for the University of California, the lead plaintiff, which lost $145 million on Enron's stock.
While the LAT plays up the size of the settlement, the NYT suggests the bank got off easy. By settling now, it says, Citigroup "may have cut itself a better deal" than some other financial institutions named in the lawsuit, such as J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch. Legal analysts tell the paper they're surprised the bank didn't have to pay more. The NYT says the settlement is all part of a strategy by new chief executive Charles Prince "to wipe Citigroup's slate clean and put the bank in a new direction."
The NYT front a long dispatch from Zimbabwe, where tyrannical President Robert Mugabe, having run out of white farmers to chase off, has moved on to dispossessing poor blacks. Under a campaign called Operation Murambatsvina (the word means "drive out the rubbish" in Shona), the government is bulldozing shantytowns and illegal markets in its cities. According to the United Nations, at least 200,000 people have been left homeless, and the real number may be much higher, the story suggests. Mugabe says the settlements were illegal eyesores, but the story notes that poor urbanites just happen to be his regime's "most hardened opponents."
Meanwhile, in semi-goofy dictator news, the WP reports inside that North Korea's Kim Jong Il is lightening up a little bit. Among other things, he allowed a British filmmaker to shoot a (fairly docile) documentary in the country, and ABC News has been there too. He's also launched a website, http://www.dprkorea.com/, where readers can "download North Korean cartoons as well as helpful tips on taekwondo, the popular Korean martial art."
Earlier this week, TP wondered why the LAT buried a story about "a fascinating but murky" confrontation between a detachment of Marines and a group of private security contractors, which ended up with the contractors being thrown in jail. Today, the paper fronts a follow-up that explains how the incident "reflects the long simmering tensions between the military and private business in Iraq." It's a nice piece with a great lede: "Matt Raiche knew he was in trouble when the Marines handed him an orange jumpsuit, a bottle to urinate in, a Koran and a Muslim prayer rug."
The WP off-leads a feature on the sad history of lynching in America. The paper says 4,743 people were lynched between 1882 and 1968, often in a carnival atmosphere, complete with macabre souvenirs: "victims' ears, fingers and toes." The Senate is set to vote Monday on a resolution apologizing for its failure to enact anti-lynching legislation. Bills to ban the practice were filibustered to death as late as the 1930s. One of the sponsors of the bill, Confederate flag-flying Virginia Senator George Allen, a possible presidential candidate, also happens to oppose some modern uses of the filibuster. Coincidence? [DemLog blogged a piece on Sen. Allen's Rove-like consultant yesterday.]
The LAT fronts a dispatch from the winegrowing town of Lodi, California, where a father and son were arrested this week over allegations that the son trained at a terrorist camp in Pakistan. The small Muslim community there is now feeling besieged and worried about hate crimes, as radio talk show hosts wonder if Lodi has become an Al Qaeda "stronghold."
The WP has a fascinating - and horrifying - front-page feature on a group of former elite Israeli soldiers who have come forward to say that they killed nine Palestinian policemen without provocation in 2002. The attacks on the policemen were meant to revenge the deaths of six Israeli soldiers killed earlier that day, but the targeted cops had nothing to do with the attack. Guilty, two former soldiers are now publicly talking about what they did. "This is what we dreamed of, being the sexiest warrior," one tells the WP. The allegations have already been aired in Israel, and so far, the paper says, "public reaction has been minimal."
As if single-handedly reviving the AIDS epidemic weren't bad enough, a NYT fronter implicates the drug crystal methamphetamine in yet public health crisis: "meth mouth." Crank apparently rots teeth out in months, turning them black and giving them "a peculiar texture less like that of hard enamel and more like that of a piece of ripened fruit." Still up for that drug-fueled orgy?
Andrew Rice is a writer in New York.
Don't understand Today's Papers jargon? Check out the Today's Papers glossary.
Source: Slate-Today's Papers.
Well this story from Dem Bloggers shows the unpatriotic nature of those supporting Patriot Act extension:
Make sure to click on the link, there are a few good video clips to allow for a more robust cringing.
This morning Rep. Sensenbrenner, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee was leading a committee hearing looking into the renewal of Patriot Act.Mr. Sensenbrenner decided that he didn't like the tone of the meeting and simply got up and left but not before he criticized the witnesses who came and gave their testimony to the committee.
After he left the microphones were switched on and off while the Democratic members of the committee continued to discuss the renewal of the Patriot Act.
Click on the latest Abi-Demian, Democratic Party News:
Friday, June 10, 2005
The colonel and a second senior officer were shot dead late on Thursday when attackers opened fire on their vehicle from a passing car, police said.
Source: REUTERS/Slahaldeen Rasheed.
AP: Bush Protested
Dean's recent high-octane attacks on the Republican Party have been panned by some senators on both sides of the aisle.
That criticism continued at the meeting of Democratic senators. The session had been previously called to discuss party strategy, but a number of senators took the opportunity to caution Dean.
The party chairman has come under fire for recent comments, including his observation that Republicans are "pretty much a white, Christian party." The former Vermont governor also raised eyebrows when he told a group of progressives that Republicans "never made an honest living in their lives."
While these comments have resonated with the party's liberal base, they have also caused discomfort for moderate Democrats, especially those from Republican states.
Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, one of the party's up-and-coming stars, complained to the Los Angeles Times that Dean has not adopted "the kind of tone a lot of the Democratic governors in mostly Republican states are using to get elected or to govern."
Karl Rove's heir apparent.
By Alexandra Starr
Posted Friday, 4:30 AM PT
The South Dakota race in which he represented John Thune upsetting former Minority Leader Tom Daschle established political consultant Dick Wadhams, above right, as a giant-slayer, giving him his pick of future clients. In January, he signed on with Sen. George Allen, a Virginia Republican whose staunch conservatism is leavened by his good ol' boy manners. Outside his home state, Allen is a relative unknown, but he's generating plenty of interest among party apparatchiks. In an April poll in the National Journal, pollsters, consultants, and media pundits picked Allen as the No. 1 choice to head the 2008 GOP ticket.
Can Wadhams take Allen from a little-known senator to a spot on the national ticket? It's a gamble, for sure: Even some Republicans snicker at Allen's tendency to turn every thought into a football metaphor (primaries are "intersquad scrimmages"; Senate recess is "halftime"). Questions about whether Allen is smart enough to be president are sure to dog a potential bid. And Wadhams has never run a national campaign before -- or for that matter, a campaign outside a red state. The Republican presidential primary will be crowded, which means that his reflexive go-negative strategy could be risky: Voters who are turned off by the mudslinger as well as the mud will have other options to choose among.
Still, Allen's amiable charm fits the mold that Wadhams has succeeded with before. The Virginian may not be a policy wonk, but his lack of pretension will likely resonate with the conservative voters who matter in primaries. Last month, Allen earned kudos from the right when he lambasted the Senate filibuster deal on judicial nominations, saying that two scuttled nominees, William Myers III and Henry Saad, had "been accorded a nice wake having been thrown overboard at sea." And he won chits when he oversaw the Republicans' pick up of four U.S. Senate seats last year, as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Let's not forget what happened the last time a GOP consultant who'd rolled up state-level victories signed up with an underestimated candidate. On the long road to 2008, Wadhams is positioned to jump in where Karl Rove gets off.
The Househearing, with the two sides accusing each other of being irresponsible and undemocratic, came as was urging Congress to renew those sections of the post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism law set to expire in September.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the panel, abruptly gaveled the meeting to an end and walked out, followed by other Republicans. Sensenbrenner declared that much of the testimony, which veered into debate over the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, was irrelevant.
"We are not besmirching the honor of the United States, we are trying to uphold it," he said.
Democrats asked for the hearing, the 11th the committee has held on the act since April, saying past hearings had been too slanted toward witnesses who supported the law. The four witnesses were from groups, including Amnesty International USA and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, that have questioned the constitutionality of some aspects of the act, which allows law enforcement greater authority to investigate suspected terrorists.
Nadler said Sensenbrenner, one of the authors of the Patriot Act, was "rather rude, cutting everybody off in mid-sentence with an attitude of total hostility."
Tempers flared when Rep. Mike Pence (news, bio, voting record), R-Ind., accused Amnesty International of endangering the lives of Americans in uniform by referring to the prison at Guantanamo Bay as a "gulag." Sensenbrenner didn't allow the Amnesty representative, Chip Pitts, to respond until Nadler raised a "point of decency."
Sensenbrenner's spokesman, Jeff Lungren, said the hearing had lasted two hours and "the chairman was very accommodating, giving members extra time."
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, speaking immediately after Sensenbrenner left, voiced dismay over the proceedings. "I'm troubled about what kind of lesson this gives" to the rest of the world, he told the Democrats remaining in the room.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, in a statement, said the hearing was an example of Republican abuse of power and she would ask House Speaker Dennis Hastert to order an apology from Sensenbrenner.
During an interview with Matt Lauer, Dr. Dean stated, "(T)hey (Republicans) are attacking immigrants: Two Republican congressmen, Jim Sensenbrenner and Tom Tancredo, have incredible anti-immigrant legislation."
Chairman Sensenbrenner's full letter is below.
Dr. Howard Dean, Chairman
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St., SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Dear Dr. Dean:
I was extremely disappointed to hear of your latest outrageous political assault this morning on The Today Show. You accused me by name of "attacking immigrants" and having "incredible anti- immigrant legislation," an apparent reference to the REAL ID legislation that enjoyed strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate as well as by the Bush Administration. By implication, the 42 House Democrats who voted for the REAL ID Act and Senate Democrats like Senator Byrd who proved invaluable in moving this antiterrorism legislation through the Senate are also guilty of "attacking immigrants."
The REAL ID legislation was in response to the 9/11 Commission's work and recommendations regarding securing our borders and improving identity document standards. Are 9/11 Commission members also guilty of attacking immigrants? Are the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Americans who want us to get some control of our porous borders also guilty of attacking immigrants?
In recent days, your delusional outbursts have forced senior members of your own party to distance themselves from your comments. While I agree with your acknowledgment that you're "not very dignified," I sincerely hope you refrain from further personal attacks. These attacks are contrary to the passionate - but respectful - political debate the public deserves.
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR, Chairman
Source: US Newswire.
AFP: Condi warns N. Korea
AFP: Reid says documents or filibuster on Bolton
AP: Huckabee v. Hillary?
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, shown here, left, answers school funding questions Thursday, June 9, 2005, at a Little Rock, Ark., news conference.
Huckabee, a Republican who took over as Arkansas governor at the height of Bill Clinton's Whitewater scandal and who lost more than 100 pounds while promoting health in an unhealthy state, is being talked up for a presidential run after he leaves the Governor's Mansion in 2007 at age 51.
Source: AP Photo/Danny Johnston.
Pelosi: Deficit killers
"Today's trade deficit numbers confirm that Republican economic policies continue to put our economic future at risk," said Nancy Pelosi, shown here, right, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives.
Fri Jun 10,12:40 PM ET
AFP: Global warming
Reuters: Lebanon killings
Haigler & Co. defend Burke
A June 3rd letter blamed the newspaper for Newsweek's retraction of its Quran-flushing story and CBS backing down on National Guard memos, among other alleged flaws in world media. In fact, these media recanted because the sources changed their stories. Never mind they don't answer to the Reporter-News. Consider the source: The attacker is an organizer for Sons of Confederate Veterans (April 10), who claims to know whether others understand religious world-views (Feb. 17), who thinks the chair of the Military Affairs Committee should resign for ''partisanship'' in the November election (Dec. 1, 2004), who claimed that, despite the millions that Charlie Stenholm brought to the Dyess mission, ''he has broken faith with the Dyess family'' (Oct. 23), who said Stenholm was ''pro-abortion, pro-homosexual and tax-raising'' and ''gutted the Dyess B-1s'' (Aug. 24), AND he proposed ''a state convention of the KKK'' here in Abilene (July 21). I am proud of our local news editors and staff. Terri Burke is a great asset to the newspaper, even when I disagree with her. She is unpretentious, candid and transparent. Her staff seek her advice even when she does not impose it - I don't know how she has a private life without her phone ringing. You should attend an afternoon editorial board meeting. The evident professionalism is awesome. Those who get thoughts from the likes of Limbaugh and O'Reilly will not like Terri Burke. Facts offend some people. Dave Haigler D.H.: I am not reprinting this because I wrote it. Rather, I want to pay tribute to my "editorial committee," mainly Alice Spier and my wife Becky, who clean my stuff up pretty well. Roger Spier, in his characteristic shyness, said my original draft was "not worth crap," but the ladies polished it up quite nicely. And, who am I do disagree with Roger? Seriously, the un-named target of this letter is obviously Jimmy Pickens, who is an idiot who regularly attacks all Democrats. Or, as Roger so aptly put it, in his own letter to the editor of May 3, "Of late a shrill discourse has arisen in this newspaper pitting Jimmy Pickens, Nathan Tinkle and a host of other self-described Christians against Dave Haigler, the Democratic Party Chairman, specifically, and the progressive community in general. The thrust of these attacks have centered on the issues of abortion, gay rights and the intentions of the founding fathers." Click on the link in the prior sentence to read Roger's fine letter in its entirety. At any rate, I am happy to have my name under the letter our friends edited showing just exactly who Democrat-basher Jimmy Pickens is and what he stands for.
Consider the source: The attacker is an organizer for Sons of Confederate Veterans (April 10), who claims to know whether others understand religious world-views (Feb. 17), who thinks the chair of the Military Affairs Committee should resign for ''partisanship'' in the November election (Dec. 1, 2004), who claimed that, despite the millions that Charlie Stenholm brought to the Dyess mission, ''he has broken faith with the Dyess family'' (Oct. 23), who said Stenholm was ''pro-abortion, pro-homosexual and tax-raising'' and ''gutted the Dyess B-1s'' (Aug. 24), AND he proposed ''a state convention of the KKK'' here in Abilene (July 21).
I am proud of our local news editors and staff. Terri Burke is a great asset to the newspaper, even when I disagree with her. She is unpretentious, candid and transparent. Her staff seek her advice even when she does not impose it - I don't know how she has a private life without her phone ringing. You should attend an afternoon editorial board meeting. The evident professionalism is awesome.
Those who get thoughts from the likes of Limbaugh and O'Reilly will not like Terri Burke. Facts offend some people.
D.H.: I am not reprinting this because I wrote it. Rather, I want to pay tribute to my "editorial committee," mainly Alice Spier and my wife Becky, who clean my stuff up pretty well. Roger Spier, in his characteristic shyness, said my original draft was "not worth crap," but the ladies polished it up quite nicely. And, who am I do disagree with Roger?
Seriously, the un-named target of this letter is obviously Jimmy Pickens, who is an idiot who regularly attacks all Democrats. Or, as Roger so aptly put it, in his own letter to the editor of May 3, "Of late a shrill discourse has arisen in this newspaper pitting Jimmy Pickens, Nathan Tinkle and a host of other self-described Christians against Dave Haigler, the Democratic Party Chairman, specifically, and the progressive community in general. The thrust of these attacks have centered on the issues of abortion, gay rights and the intentions of the founding fathers." Click on the link in the prior sentence to read Roger's fine letter in its entirety.
At any rate, I am happy to have my name under the letter our friends edited showing just exactly who Democrat-basher Jimmy Pickens is and what he stands for.
Reuters: Dean-hell no!
Dean, under fire for blunt comments about Republicans, refused to back down on Wednesday and said Republican critics were trying to divert attention from their own failures.
Photo by: Larry Downing/Reuters.
D.H.: Give 'em hell, Howard. Don't be intimidated. Keep telling the truth.
AFP: Blair & Bush
US President George W. Bush (R) and British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) attend a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House.
Britain and the United States have agreed on a system to relieve 18 of the world's poorest nations, mostly in Africa, of combined debt worth 16.7 billion dollars, The New York Times said.
The agreement follows a meeting this week between Bush and Blair.
Source: AFP/File/Tim Sloan. Fri Jun 10, 3:54 AM ET.
Slate: Finding Memo - June 10
|today's papers||A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers|
Posted Friday, at 12:53 AM PT
The Washington Post leads with and New York Times fronts a Justice Department report detailing how the FBI bungled chance after chance (supposedly five in total) to nab the two 9/11 hijackers who had been living openly in San Diego. It's long been known that the government flubbed opportunities to nab the men, but the latest report adds details. And the Los Angeles Times' catches the most eye-popping one: A CIA bureaucratin an apparent bit of interagency pettinessactually blocked an underling from warning the FBI that the two men had entered the U.S.
Citing a "senior official involved in the negotiations," the NYT's lead says Britain and the U.S. have agreed on a debt relief deal for 18 of the world's poorest nations. About $16.7 billion will be written off in what one debt relief group called "an excellent proposal." The Times also notes that Prime Minister Blair failed to get the U.S. to budge on a big increase in aid to Africa and on doing anything about global warming. USA Today leads with the recruit-strapped Army proposing to double its top enlistment bonus to $40,000. The Army also said it's now happy to welcome older recruits and those who've been nailed for what USAT dubs "minor crimes."
A CIA memo was drafted in January 2000 warning the FBI that the two known al-Qaida men had entered the U.S. But it was never sent. Instead a note was attached to the draft, "Pls hold off on (memo) for now per (the CIA deputy chief of bin Laden unit)." As for the Justice Department report itself, it's been finished for a year, and now arrives heavily redacted. As the NYT details, the blacked-out bits include the "entire 115-page section on one terror suspect."
As the Post fronts, the House Appropriations Committee proposed hitting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with a 25 percent cut next year and the elimination of all federal funding in two years. The Wall Street Journal looks at the committee's wider proposed cutscommunity service grants were hit particularly hard. Slate's Jack Shafer recently argued that public broadcasting would benefit from getting off the dole.
The Post fronts the Justice Department revealing a bit more of the backdown in the big tobacco suit. The reason the government is only asking for a fraction of the money that had been expected, says the WP, is that the government wants the tobacco industry to fund cessation programs only for smokers who take up the habit in the single year after the suit closes. The 45 million current smokers would be SOL. Neither the NYT nor LAT focus on the single year bit. In fact they refer to five years of cessation funding. Did the Post get it right?
The NYT cites a "senior administration official" saying the U.S. has "credible information" that Syria is plotting to assassinate some Lebanese leaders. The SAO even referred to a "Syrian hit list." Then there's this buried in the eighth paragraph:
Intelligence officials said they could not immediately substantiate the reliability of the information cited by the administration official. A State Department official said that word of a "hit list" had been "circulating among the Lebanese" but that no one in the administration had actually seen such a list.
The Times still deems the story Page One reefer-worthy, and headlines: "U.S. HAS 'CREDIBLE' WORD OF SYRIAN PLOT TO KILL LEBANESE." Exactly how is "U.S." defined there? Meanwhile, the Post doesn't play along: "U.S. WARY OF SYRIA TARGETING LEBANESE."
The WP's Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru spent some QT patrolling with Iraqi soldiers assigned to accompany GIs. The reporters were directed to the unit by the U.S. military. But nobody thinks the soldiers have enough training, equipment, or morale to do their job. "I know the party line. You know, the five-star generals, President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld: the Iraqis will be ready in whatever time period," said a named American lieutenant. "But I know I'll be back in Iraq, probably in three or four years. And I don't think they'll be ready then." The mostly Sunni soldiers agreedand said they're planning to quit. Then they sang odes to Saddam. "We have lived in humiliation since you left," went one line. Of the 107 purportedly operational Iraqi battalions, U.S. commanders say three are capable of acting independently.
The Iraqi perspective and cultural disconnects painted in the WP piece are remarkable "The people have been destroyed," said one Iraqi soldier, "by them" pointing at GIs. The Post was probably able to get the views because Shadid speaks Arabic. But here's at least one other reason: cojones. He appears to have patrolled with the Iraqis in the back of one of their (typically) unprotected Humvees. "Is he riding in the back of that?" asked one horrified GI. "I'll be over here praying."
PEN: Stop Bolton - June 10
This group helps you write our congressman and senators on important issues. Today's issues are stopping Bolton and investigating the "Downing Street Memos," having to do with Bush manipulating intelligence to justify the Iraq war.My own note to our leaders included this personalized statement: I realize you value your relationship with President Bush, but a time of reckoning is coming over all the lies told to get us into Iraq, and you will go down in disgrace with him unless you take a principled stand for truth now.I recommend you use this resource too. See below.
It is an absolute disgrace that any senator from either party is still considering the nomination of John Bolton. Now we learn that a "menacing" John Bolton illegally forced out a U.N. diplomat who was trying to determine the truth about the non-existence of Iraq's chemical weapons. Whether it's fixing the facts about yellow cake in Niger to steal a U.N. vote, or the way he stopped the recount in Florida without authority, somehow it's always about suppressing or twisting the truth, just as finally revealed by the Downing Street memo.
It may well be that the National Security Agency intercepts being stonewalled from our own Senate contain evidence of criminal behavior by Bolton in spying on people who opposed the administration's agenda. But this yellow cake doesn't need any more icing. The U.N. tribunal involved has already ruled that it was an "unlawful" and "unacceptable violation" of protocol to oust their diplomat, which is exactly what Bolton is NOT, never was and never will be.
It's time for those opposed to Bolton to take responsibility on principle. Tell your senators they have the power to stop this thing by DEMANDING the FILIBUSTER continue, and not to do another shameful compromise on the concealed documents. Tell your senators they must exercise what the power they do have to PROTECT US from Bolton and the next escalation of illegal war he is being sent to provoke.
And if you have not already sent a message to your members of Congress demanding an investigation of the Downing Street memo, make sure you do that as well. Even if you have already signed the Conyers petition at http://www.johnconyers.com, PLEASE ALSO submit the one below. Like all our action forms, this one goes directly to all your individual members of Congress
Take action NOW on this and forward this email everywhere you can and to everybody you can.
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Thursday, June 09, 2005
Pelosi: House Call - June 9
Democrats Call on Republicans to Act on Stalled 9/11 Reforms
"It is the unanimous view of the former commissioners that the most glaring failure is the adoption of Congressional reforms."
- Jamie Gorelick, member of the former 9/11 Commission
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, right, said today that nearly six months have passed since the 9/11 Commission's recommendations were released, yet President Bush and the Republican Congress have still not implemented many of its key provisions. The Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans have failed to act on critical reforms such as improving the ability of first responders to communicate, establishing a civil liberties board, securing nuclear material and reviewing the Congressional oversight process. With the safety of our country at stake, it is critical that Congress focuses on the threats and dangers the American people face. Congressional Democrats are calling on President Bush and the Republican Congress to quickly complete the unfinished business of the 9/11 Commission and thereby better ensure the safety of the American people.
Oxymoron of the Week - Republican Job Growth
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently revealed that job growth was a mere 78,000 in May - more than 100,000 fewer jobs than expected and almost 200,000 below the previous month. As if this were not bad enough, manufacturing jobs continue to disappear under this Administration - with more than 2.8 million lost since 2001. And yet Republicans continue to push for policies that favor corporate special interests instead of addressing the concerns of middle-class families. The President has repeatedly said that the economy is strong. But for whom? For Americans who have seen their real wages plummet? For families facing higher and higher health care costs? For workers who are finding themselves unemployed for longer and longer periods of time? For middle-class families who are feeling the squeeze? Republican economic policies favor special interests, at the expense of everyone else.
Celebrating the Right to Privacy and Reproductive Freedom
This week marks the 40th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark decision that recognized the constitutional right to privacy and gave women control over their own reproductive health decisions. Over the past 40 years, family planning has prevented unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and drastically reduced the rate of abortion. Despite these successes, family planning services are under attack by President Bush whose misguided policies have reversed years of progress by blocking access to emergency contraception and underfunding critical reproductive health programs. As we celebrate the anniversary of Griswold, we must continue to fight to preserve the right to privacy while promoting a comprehensive approach to reproductive health care, including planning for healthy pregnancies, preventing unintended pregnancies, and providing comprehensive and medically-accurate sexuality education.
Annual Trade Deficit Continues at Record Levels
Tomorrow, a report will be released regarding the nation's trade deficit - a trade deficit that has soared to more than $665 billion last year under the Bush Administration's policies. This includes a record deficit of $162 billion last year with China, the largest imbalance ever recorded between two countries. The trade numbers so far this year indicate that 2005 will be no different. The Central American Free Trade Act, which the President and his Republican allies are trying to force through Congress, will only make matters worse for American workers. The Bush Administration's policies have placed our economic future in the hands of the foreign countries that are financing our growing deficits. House Democrats are fighting for free and fair trade along with a balanced budget so that we can create new markets for U.S. goods and provide opportunities for America's working families, farmers and small business owners.
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©2005 Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader
Gillespie Co. Demo Memo
June 2005 - Vol. 3 - Issue 6
George Keller, editor
AND NOW FOR THE NEWS:
We had a large enthusiastic attendance for the meeting. Karl Thomas Musselman thanked the Democrats for the role we played in his Dad's election to the Fredericksburg City Council. There was discussion as to the importance of raising the Democratic profile in the community by encouraging Democrats to become involved in the various county and city boards. Examples of such boards are City Council and the School Board to name just a couple. Several people have volunteered to get involved and we will talk about this during the June Meeting.
Our U.S. Congressman Mike Conaway held a Town Hall Meeting on June 2 and was surprised by the good Democratic (11 of us) attendance. You should be proud of the high quality of questions that were presented to Congressman Conaway by our representatives. Unfortunately, the response to the questions was the usual puppet Bush responses. After the meeting, one of the Republicans told George Keller that this was, to his knowledge, the first meeting of this type where Democrats turned out. In my opinion, the questions from the Republicans were, at best, neutral and perhaps a little on the negative slant, which surprised Congressman Conaway.
In checking around with other county's Town Hall Meetings with the Congressman, the Republican attendees are much more skeptical than before as to the state of the Union. Opinion polls regarding the administration are reflecting this same trend and more and more the Administration is being challenged.
Contributed by Elaine Bigelow: Is consistency important in World Politics?
You know you're a Republican when...
...Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
...trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.
...A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.
...Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
...the best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
...providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.
...global warming is junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
...being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
...it's vital that we protect the culture of life, except in cases of the death penalty. Funny--or just plain scary?
Food Panty Program for Fredericksburg & Harper:
We have received a nice thank you card from The Harper Community Needs Group. We are now attaching a small label to all donations saying "Donated by your Gillespie County Democratic Club Neighbors." We want to make sure that the recipents know who is helping them. Please remember to bring a donation(s) to the meeting. We owe a big THANKS to Frank and Elizabeth Beal for delivering the monthly donations to the Fredericksburg Food Pantry and Kathleen and George Keller for seeing donations arrive at the Harper Center.
If you are unable to attend the monthly meeting to bring your donations just give Frank Beal or George Keller (phone numbers at bottom of newsletter) a call and they will make the necessary arrangements to get them picked up.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 P.M. at the EMS Building, 221 Friendship Lane. We will discuss "Why the President and the Administration have had such a large drop in the opinion polls.
We will also finalized our participation in the July 4th Parade, and the decorating party on the newest designed float. Larry Truitt has been working hard putting together an outstanding float.
Last call for the Dem Fest on June 17, 18 and 19. Dem Fest 2005 will be held in Austin. This is a giant training session. If you are interested, contact George Keller 456-1066.
What are our Club plans for Barbara Radnofsky and our participation in the 117th Gillespie County Fair Parade?
There will be an update on the Senate District 24 Labor Day Picnic on September 5th in Lampasas. How will the Gillespie County Democratic Club participate?
Plan to attend this exciting June Meeting. We will have our usual social following the forum.
A gentle reminder to bring items for the Pantry Program. Do not forget to bring some finger food for nibbling as we discuss issues. Beverages to be furnished.
Important Dates & Meetings:
July 3 & 4 - Parade Float Decorating on the 3rd with finishing up the morning of the parade on the 4th. We are fortunate to have Navy Pilot Lt. Commander Juan Garcia on the float to help us celebrate Independence Day. Lt. Commander Garcia lives in Corpus Christi. He holds a law degree from Harvard, several advance degrees and is considering running for office in 2006.
Sept. 5 - Monday - LABOR DAY - The picnic will be held in Lampasas by the Lampasas Democrats, to salute all working people. Now, around 800 people are expected to attend to hear the many Celebrity speakers. The theme of the picnic will be "Senate District 24 Taking Back Texas". This will also be the kickoff of our 2006 elections. Mark your calendar now.
The meeting will be held on Thursday, July 21 at 6:30 P.M. at the EMS Building, 221 Friendship Lane. Mark your calendars now.
NEED HELP WITH OUR NEWSLETTER: if you have something you think should be covered in the newsletter please give George or Frank a call. Remember this is your newsletter and it needs your input.
For more information or comments: Frank Beal, President at 997-7388 or Editor, George Keller 997-5455 or (830) 792-4232.
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