.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

 

Reuters: Beatty upstages Schwarzenegger over unpopular ballot resolutions - Nov. 5

By Marty Graham - 24 minutes ago

Actor Warren Beatty (R) jokingly chokes California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign spokesperson Todd Harris (L)SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Liberal actor Warren Beatty is shown (R) jokingly choking California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign spokesperson Todd Harris (L) after Beatty and his wife Annette Bening (C) were denied access to Schwarzenegger's campaign event during a stop at Montgomery Field airport in San Diego November 5, 2005. (Mike Blake/Reuters).  Beatty on Saturday shadowed Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as he traversed Southern California seeking support for four initiatives days before a special election.

Reenacting a technique that helped bring him to office two years ago, Schwarzenegger set out on a bus tour of four cities to greet friendly audiences. This time, the former "Terminator" star jockeyed for attention with Beatty on the sidelines.

No actor wants to be overshadowed, so Schwarzenegger's staff blocked the star of "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Dick Tracy" from entering the governor's first stop at a private aircraft hangar in San Diego.

"We have an A-rated actor in here while they have a B-rated actor out there," San Diego County Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring told the crowd.

Schwarzenegger is hoping to win support on initiatives extending the trial period before teachers get tenure; changing the way California draws its legislative districts; boosting his powers over the state budget; and limiting union political contributions.  The measures are trailing in most recent polls.

Beatty, seen as a possible future gubernatorial candidate, made himself available to the media and to crowds, in contrast to the Austrian-born Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger's appearances were tightly controlled, with audiences picked from local Republican groups and reporters and political opponents kept at arms length. He started his "bus tour" riding in an SUV with the media following on buses.

Beatty and his wife, actress Annette Bening, took their time as they greeted crowds and posed for photos with dozens of people outside each event.

"I was friends with President Ronald Reagan and he once said to me, 'I don't know how anybody can serve in public office without being an actor,"' Beatty said.

At the first stop of the tour, Schwarzenegger supporters surrounded an impromptu Beatty news conference, shouting slogans to drown him out. Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Todd Harris asked them to stop yelling, only to be told another staffer had told them to disrupt Beatty's discourse.

"This is just a sideshow," said Schwarzenegger advisor Mike Murphy. "Warren Beatty is our stunt disrupter this morning."

Source:  Reuters-Yahoo News.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Dean supports Corzine for NJ Gov. - Nov. 5

DeanChairman of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean speaks to a crowd in support of Sen. Jon Corzine gubernational bid, at the Terhune Orchards Farm, in Lawrence Township, N.J., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005. (AP Photo/Jose F. Moreno)
 
Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

AP: Bush Orders Staff to Review Ethics Rules

2 hours, 8 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush, reacting to the indictment of a high-level White House aide in the CIA leak case, has ordered his staff to get a refresher on ethics rules.

In a memo sent to all White House aides on Friday, the counsel's office said it will hold briefings next week on ethics, with a particular focus on the rules governing the handling of classified information. Attendance is mandatory for anyone holding any level of security clearance.

"There will be no exceptions," the memo said.

The week after, the counsel's office is holding sessions on general ethical conduct for the rest of the staff.

"The president has made clear his expectation that each member of his Executive Office of the President (EOP) Staff adhere to the spirit as well as the letter of all rules governing ethical conduct for EOP Staff," the memo said.

After a two-year investigation, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted last week, charged with lying to investigators and the grand jury about leaking the CIA status of Valerie Plame, who was a covert officer. Plame's CIA status was exposed in July 2003 after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of twisting intelligence before the war to exaggerate the Iraqi threat from weapons of mass destruction.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is said to be still considering whether Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, illegally misled investigators. Libby has resigned and Rove remains on the job.

The case has had some Republicans inside and outside the White House grumbling that Bush needs to take more aggressive steps to confront the fallout, which has included a drop in the public's confidence in the president's credibility.

Source: Associated Press.

Terry's Comment: I would say that this is like closing the door of the dog pen after the pit bulls have gotten out and ravaged the baby next door.

Submitted by Terry Barhorst.


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AP: Dems press Bush on Iraq - Nov. 5

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer - 16 minutes ago

PhotoWASHINGTON - Democrats, represented by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., center, flanked by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., right, are intensifying efforts to hold President Bush and his fellow Republicans accountable for missteps in the Iraq war, as they seek to exploit a potential GOP vulnerability heading into Congress' midterm election year.

Outnumbered on Capitol Hill, Democrats are embracing the little power they have in the GOP-controlled House and Senate by using procedural techniques to highlight Iraq troubles and issue blistering critiques of Bush's war policies.

At the same time, increasing numbers of Democrats are calling for the president to start withdrawing U.S. troops by year's end and are laying out their own timetables for pulling out of the war-battered country.

"What the Democrats are saying essentially is, enough is enough. It's time to determine the facts and to hold the president accountable for the miscalculations, misjudgments and misrepresentations," said Steve McMahon, a Democratic consultant.

On Tuesday, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada surprised and infuriated Republicans by invoking an arcane Senate rule to force the chamber into closed session for more than two hours on Iraq and prewar intelligence.

PelosiTwo days later, Reid's counterpart in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, right (news, bio, voting record) of California, tried unsuccessfully to get the GOP-controlled chamber to take up a measure condemning Republicans for "their refusal to conduct oversight" of the administration's Iraq war policy and order investigations into it.

In both cases, Democrats say Republican leaders have put political interests ahead of national security by failing in their oversight responsibilities of the Iraq war.

Republicans dismissed the actions as political stunts and accused Democrats of trying to steal news headlines from Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

CornynSen. John Cornyn, left (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, said Senate Democrats were going "to extraordinary and unprecedented measures to obstruct the business of the American people. Because the Democrats have no ideas or agenda of their own, they've made an awkward attempt at changing the subject."

The Democrats' stepped-up campaign coincides with Bush's popularity plummeting to its lowest levels ever, with a new AP-Ipsos poll placing his approval rating at 37 percent.

It also coincides with two other high-profile events -- the grim milestone of 2,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq and the indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, in a case that touched on intelligence the president used in the run-up to the war.

Democrats say that gave them an opening to more aggressively press the administration to outline a plan for withdrawal and demand that Congress complete a stalled investigation into prewar intelligence.

Like Republicans, Democrats also have been feeling the heat from their constituents, who are growing increasingly frustrated with the war as casualties climb and costs soar. AP-Ipsos polling shows public support for Bush's handling of Iraq at its lowest point, also 37 percent.

Democrats hope aggressively pushing Bush on Iraq will unify their party and fracture Republicans by forcing GOP candidates to decide whether to stand with the president or distance themselves from him and his policies.

The minority party also is using its intensified effort on Iraq to raise money.

"Make a special donation and send a note of thanks to Harry Reid asking him to keep up the fight," said a fundraising e-mail from Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, below right, sent out the day of the closed Senate session.

DeanIn coming weeks, House Democrats, led by Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, plan to force the House to consider a Senate-approved ban on the "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of prisoners in U.S. custody. Members of both parties expect the House to side with the Senate, despite a White House veto threat.

A former Marine who served in Vietnam, Murtha rarely makes such public moves. But when the conservative Democrat speaks on military issues, colleagues tend to listen.

Murtha said Thursday that he has grown so concerned about some of the president's war policies that he plans a speech laying out his recommendations for the war before the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections in Iraq.

"This war is destroying our ability to meet the threat down the road," Murtha said.

Two other senior Democrats weighed in with speeches as well over the past two weeks.

KerrySen. John Kerry, left, of Massachusetts called for a "reasonable time frame" for pulling back troops, and said 20,000 should start returning home in December if the elections go well. And former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said all U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2007.

Source: AP-Yahoo News.


Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info

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Buzzflash: Review of Franken's book

The Truth, With Jokes (Hardcover) -- by Al Franken, below right

Franken, The TruthBUZZFLASH REVIEWS

Al Franken's hot-off-the-press book (official release date is October 25) -- need we say more?

Although all his recent books have been political, "The Truth" is probably his most frontal attack on Bushevism to date. On page 193, for instance, he states unequivocally, "Bush is lucky that he had a Republican Congress, or he almost certainly would have been impeached and imprisoned." (There's also a phony blotter of LSD on the page, which Franken claims is the only way you could possibly understand Bush's contorted, deceptive, changing Social Security policy.)

And Franken means it. While the subtitle of the book notes "with jokes," this is a rather robust broadside about how Bushevism is destroying our nation and threatening world peace. Being Franken, wry humor emerges at times, but Franken is clearly, as listeners of his Air America show know, truly baffled by how Bush and his cabal are getting away with highway robbery, death and economic destruction, not to mention the shredding of our Constitution.

In addition to being a comic, Franken is a shrewd analytical thinker. The Daily Show is fantastic at using humor to expose the truth behind the manufactured news of the Busheviks. But Franken goes a step further. He actually takes on the Bush propaganda and debunks it through reasoned arguments, with a droll comment tossed in now and then.

When you think about how wishy-washy most of the Democratic Leadership is, it's just so damn refreshing to read Franken take on the Republicans with "The Truth." Democratic leaders are so intimidated by the myths, fictions and lies created by the RNC and the White House that they believe that they have to move closer to the deceptive GOP image of America in order to win elections. But, Franken, who is mulling a Minnesota U.S. Senate run against Norm Coleman, doesn't see any reason not to simply tell it like it is.

"The Truth" reflects Franken's style of commentary and interviewing on his Air America program. He is very careful to establish the facts and build his case based upon reason. If he weren't a comic, he would have made a good lawyer.

Franken closes "The Truth" with a letter to his grandchildren (written at some point in the future) entitled, "The Resurrection of Hope."

"Senator Franken" -- Hey, it sounds good to us. How many politicians share your world view, care about our national well being, and make you laugh?

We can't wait to read his letters to his future constituents in Minnesota after he wins back Paul Wellstone's seat from the all-time turncoat weasel, Norm Coleman.

In the meantime, get "The Truth" now from Al Franken.

--> Get Your Copy Here <--
 
Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Huff-Po: Shut up, Carville

By Arianna Huffington

During a week when Harry Reid and the Dems finally found their spines and their voices on James CarvillePlamegate and the war, it was deeply disturbing to see James Carville, left, parading his tired, old, and utterly clueless act all over the TV -- supposedly offering up the Democratic point of view.

Can somebody please, please, please shut Carville up -- especially about Plamegate. His takes on the scandal are utterly compromised by his marriage to Mary Matalin, below right.

This isn't like the weird-but-fun old days when they were a sitcom come to life -- running opposing campaigns during the day and sharing pillow talk at night while creating a cottage industry as "the Donny and Marie of politics."

That's all in the past. Now, as one of Dick Cheney's most trusted first-term Mary Matalinadvisors, one of eight founding members of the White House Iraq Group, a witness in front of the Plamegate grand jury, and a close friend of Scooter Libby ("The man you pray you get seated next to at a dinner party," she recently cooed), Matalin is a central player in all this.

And it has hopelessly handcuffed Carville. Check out this exchange from his appearance on The Situation Room this week:
BLITZER: Should the vice president hold a news conference or grant an interview and answer the tough questions that are being asked out there?

CARVILLE: I've got a better idea. Why doesn't the president get out and have one? Harry Truman didn't say the buck stops with the Vice President. The buck stops with the President.

[snip]

I think the first step is not the Vice President -- [it's] the President of the United States standing up, answering to the American people, answering people's questions... The Vice nothing. There aren't no Vices around here. There's one man in charge of this country and that is George W. Bush.

Jesus, could Carville have turned the focus of the discussion away from his wife's former boss any quicker?

"The Vice nothing"? "There are no Vices around here"? The buck doesn't stop with the Vice President? Are you kidding me? The Vice President's office is Ground Zero on Plamegate -- and on the Bush administration's push for war. It was Cheney who regularly stormed over to the CIA, knocking heads and twisting arms to get the intel he wanted. It was Cheney who set the Plamegate ball rolling by demanding info on the bogus claims of a Niger/Iraq uranium connection. It was Cheney who led the media charge in selling the war with his unwavering claims that Saddam had the ability to "subject the United States...to nuclear blackmail." It was Cheney who helped foster the bogus impression that there was an al-Qaeda/Saddam connection -- continuing to tout the "Atta met with Saddam's reps in Prague" story long after it had been shot down by the FBI. It was Cheney's office that opened its arms to Chalabi after the CIA soured on him. It was "Cheney's Cheney," Scooter Libby, who wrote the original draft of Colin Powell's shameful UN speech. And it was Cheney's office that took the lead in the administration's efforts to discredit Joe Wilson and his wife.

Memo to Carville: If you can't talk about Dick Cheney, then you can't talk about Plamegate. Or about the war -- and the lies and deceptions the administration used to sell it to the American people. And if you can't talk about Plamegate and the war, you should not be talking at all from the Democratic side of the aisle.

And there is the additional problem that Carville never really got Iraq and its significance. That's why he spent much of 2004 advising Kerry and the Democrats to focus on domestic issues. And we know how well that turned out.

On Tuesday, we got a snapshot of how Carville deals with the issue of the war on the Today show:

COURIC: Obviously the White House would like to change the subject away from the indictment of "Scooter" Libby. Is this story over, James?

CARVILLE: No, this story is not over. I'll tell you another story that's not over: We had the fourth bloodiest month in Iraq... and that's of a lot bigger concern here. But...

So there we are. One line on the war, nothing on Plamegate's connection to it -- and then a lightning-fast pivot to the domestic front, where he obviously feels more, well, at home:

I think Democrats have a great opportunity to show that they're going to stand up for the interests of working people, going to stand up for the interests of middle-class people and get away from the machine gun lobby and the anti-Family Medical Leave and all of these other decisions here.

Family Medical Leave? Iraq is going to hell, the American public has turned against the war, Bush is staggering from the Plamegate revelations, and Carville wants the Democrats to "stand up for" family medical leaves? Is he serious? Why not throw in school uniforms and mandatory 48-hour hospital maternity stays while you're at it, James?

It would be bad enough if Carville were only dishing out this clueless crap as a TV talking head -- but, unfortunately, he's also serving it up to Democratic leaders who, inexplicably, keep seeking out his advice.

I'll never forget sitting in Lawrence Bender's living room 12 days before the 2004 election, listening to Carville predict that the election was in the bag.

"If we can't win this damn election," he said, "with a Democratic Party more unified than ever before, with us having raised as much money as the Republicans, with 55% of the country believing we're heading in the wrong direction, with our candidate having won all three debates, and with our side being more passionate about the outcome than theirs -- if we can't win this one, then we can't win shit! And we need to completely rethink the Democratic Party."

But, instead of rethinking, the party is returning to the bone dry Carville advice well. He's one of the guiding forces behind the influential Democracy Corps, which recently released a report [PDF] calling for the Democrats to run on a 2006 agenda focused on "health care, education and energy, followed by top end tax cut repeal and homeland security."

Thud (that's the sound of Democratic chances dropping).

James Carville hasn't had a fresh idea since The War Room stopped filming.

It's time for him to take a long, long vacation from the spotlight. And he should take his Cheney/Libby-apologist, WHIG-war-salesman-wife with him.

Source: Huff-Po reprint at Common Dreams.


Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

Friday, November 04, 2005

 

Haigler: Radnofsky pulls surprise visit to Abilene - Nov. 4

Radnofsky, left, with a supporterAbilene - Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Ann Radnofsky, shown with a supporter, right, made a lunch visit to Abilene today, on short notice.
 
Despite the short notice, six Democrats attended the lunch at the Abilene Country Club, with Dr. Virginia Connally as the hostess.
 
Those attending included Roger Spier, M.D., Democratic Club President, and his wife, Alice, a retired nurse-anesthetist.  Radnofsky discussed her policies on medical care reform, which were well received by the group.
 
Radnofsky plans a return trip to Abilene on Jan. 29, 2006, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at a location to be announced by her Abilene host committee, which now comprises 18 volunteers.  Those interested in joining the host committee, contact Dave Haigler.
 
presented by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage: www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

New York Times: DeLay Asked Lobbyist to Raise Money Through Charity

By PHILIP SHENON
Published: November 4, 2005

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 - Representative Tom DeLay asked the lobbyist Jack Abramoff to raise money for him through a private charity controlled by Mr. Abramoff, an unusual request that led the lobbyist to try to gather at least $150,000 from his Indian tribe clients and their gambling operations, according to newly disclosed e-mail from the lobbyist's files.

The electronic messages from 2002, which refer to "Tom" and "Tom's requests," appear to be the clearest evidence to date of an effort by Mr. DeLay, a Texas Republican, to pressure Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying partners to raise money for him. The e-mail messages do not specify why Mr. DeLay wanted the money, how it was to be used or why he would want money raised through the auspices of a private charity.

Click here for complete article.

Terry's comments: If this was in a novel I'd be saying it couldn't happen.


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Louisiana can't pay Katrina, Rita bills

Louisiana can't pay Katrina, Rita bills

By Alan Levin, USA TODAY Fri Nov 4, 7:49 AM ET

Flood-ravaged Louisiana can't pay the $3.7 billion that the U.S. government says is its share of hurricane relief, a spokeswoman for Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Thursday.

"You can't squeeze $3.7 billion out of this state to pay this bill. Period. That would be difficult for us on a good day," the spokeswoman, Denise Bottcher, told USA TODAY.

Staffers for the governor "about fell over" Wednesday night when they received the
Federal Emergency Management Agency's estimate of the state's costs for hurricanes Katrina and Rita, said Mark Merritt, a consultant working for Blanco.

FEMA projects that it will spend a total of $41.4 billion in Louisiana, about $9,000 per resident. Federal law requires state and local governments to pay a portion of disaster relief costs. That share can be as much as 25%. The $3.7 billion estimate is roughly 9% of FEMA's projected costs in Louisiana.

The $3.7 billion represents just under half of the $8 billion the state spends per year and comes as the extensive flooding around New Orleans has severely undercut tax revenue. The state is in the midst of heavy cost-cutting to whittle down a projected $1 billion shortfall.

Congress would have to enact legislation to forgive Louisiana's debt, FEMA spokeswoman Nicol Andrews said.
President Bush has waived certain state and local costs, such as debris removal, but he is bound by law to collect the $3.7 billion from Louisiana, she said.

Mississippi and Texas, also hit hard by this year's hurricanes, have not received FEMA's projected costs.

The issue of a state's obligation to pay disaster relief costs occasionally creates controversy. On rare occasions, FEMA has threatened to report local governments to the U.S. Justice Department because federal money wasn't reimbursed.

The bulk of the money Louisiana must pay will go toward paying for personal property lost in the storms. FEMA pays up to $26,200 per household for uninsured losses. Blanco's office estimates that 60,000 households in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish alone will qualify for the payments. FEMA this week began notifying people that they will receive money.

Merritt is a former FEMA official who now works with former FEMA director James Lee Witt, an adviser to Blanco on hurricane recovery. Merritt said the scope of the disaster far exceeded anything envisioned when the relief agency was created. He called the costs "astronomically unprecedented."

Before Hurricane Katrina, the largest FEMA disaster was the Sept. 11 attacks. FEMA spent $8.8 billion for relief in New York after Sept. 11, which equaled less than $500 per resident of the metro area, Merritt said.

"A disaster of this magnitude ... has never happened on this scale in U.S. history," Merritt said.

Terry's comment: This is another example of The Bush administration not following the principle of a government taking care of its people in distress. The Bush administration is handing out money like it grows on the cliche trees to foreign countries and big oil, but when in comes to its own people they charge them on amounts that are bloated by corrupt contracts, shirts from Nordstorm for FEMA bosses, and $17,000 amplifier systems from Guitar shops for unnamed FEMA thieves and thousands of tons of ice and trailers that have never been delivered to those in need.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone Star Democrats



 

Slate-Papers: Trust, the numbers - Nov. 4

Bush
By Eric Umansky - Posted Friday at 6:52 AM ET

The Washington Post leads with a poll showing President Bush, right, with a 39 percent approval rating and a 60 percent disapproval mark -- both a record for Bush in the Post's polling. The president had his biggest dip on "issues of personal trust, honesty and values." The Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox and New York Times lead with former presidential aide Scooter Libby (shown below left, leaving court yesterday) pleading not guilty to perjury and other charges against him. Libby waived his right to a quick trial, suggesting, as the Journal puts it, "his intention to mount a vigorous defense."

Libby leaving court yesterdayUSA Today leads with FEMA sending Louisiana a bill for $3.7 billion. Which sounds outrageous -- and obviously lead-worthy -- until one reads a few paragraphs down and sees that Congress long ago mandated that states pay a portion of disaster relief costs. (No word on how small that portion can be.) The only way the bill can be avoided, apparently, is for Congress to forgive the debt. In the meantime, the charge amounts to half of Louisiana's annual budget. And the state is already facing a billion-dollar deficit this year. The Los Angeles Times' lead says drug companies have given "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to politicians and civil rights groups -- including the California branch of the NAACP -- that have supported a state proposition just happens to benefit, and be basically sponsored by, the industry.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents in the Post's poll said they do not think the president is "honest and trustworthy." Sixty-eight percent said the country is heading in the wrong direction. The reason most-often cited for feeling that way: the Alitoeconomy. The one semi-bright spot: Nearly 50 percent said they support the nomination of Judge Alito (right); only 30 percent said they're against him.

The Post, of course, follows that grand newspaper tradition of pretending there are no other polls in the world. CBS, meanwhile, had one this week clocking the president's approval rating at 35 percent.

Libby's arraignment lasted all of 10 minutes but did yield a few suggestive nuggets: As the NYT and LAT emphasize, Libby's (new) lawyers said they'll raise First Amendment issues by demanding to see involved reporters' notes. The next hearing is set for February.

The Post alone fronts the Senate passing $35 billion in domestic cuts over the next five years; the bill also says the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge can be opened for drilling. The House, though, isn't likely to agree to open ANWR. The Post calls the cuts part of an effort by Republican leaders to "demonstrate fiscal discipline." Among the areas taking small hits: prescription drugs, farm subsidies, and student loans. A similar bill in the House would, among other things, pinch health-care spending for children. One research outfit said about 6 million kids will be, according the Post's paraphrase, "affected" by the change.

Everybody mentions that the Senate Judiciary Committee said it will begin hearings on Judge Alito Jan. 9. The White House had been pushing for a quicker start. Meanwhile, the Journal flags some moderate Republican senators expressing a wee bit of concern about Alito. Nominal Republican Lincoln Chafee (seen below, with Alito, left) cited "caution flags," adding, "I have a primary and a general election to worry about."

Sen. Chafee with Judge Alito, leftAs the WSJ says up high, the European Union said it will look into reports that Poland and Romania are hosting secret CIA prisons. Both countries issued what seem to be denials.

The NYT teases word that House Republican leaders have held up a vote to endorse the Senate's recent amendment reinforcing restrictions against mistreatment of detainees. "HOUSE DELAYS VOTE ON U.S. TREATMENT OF TERRORISM SUSPECTS," says the Times. Ten paragraphs later we learn, "Republican and Democratic aides said there were other possible reasons" for the delay. The detainee language is attached to the defense budget bill, and one Democratic aide "said there were still knotty substantive issues" to work out in it.

A quick moment to ponder the Times' above story: The paper didn't pull the "delay" out of thin air: Democratic legislators made a stink about it. That the Times played along isn't necessarily evidence of liberal bias. It's just as likely evidence of something more annoying: a lazy habit of falling into a "partisan conflict" storyline regardless of the underlying reality.

With
rioting in some of Paris' immigrant-dominated suburbs going on for an eighth night, the LAT is the first major to put it on Page One. There were new outbreaks last night in a half-dozen neighborhoods, but the LAT says the "violence seemed less intense" than previously.

The WP notices a sliver of success in Iraq: The highway to the airport isn't the world's most dangerous road anymore. With access now limited and heavy patrolling only one person has been killed on it in the past two months. "It's pretty much one of the safest roads in Baghdad now," said one officer, who added, "The enemy's just gone up the road." Meanwhile, the military announced the death of three more soldiers. The GIs' deaths, as usual, don't get headlines. (The NYT though does have a daily box with the names of soldiers killed.)

A NYT piece teased on Page One picks up on some e-mails showing that now-former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay pushed now-former super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff (seen below right, listening to his lawyer), to have Abramoff's "charity" donate a couple hundred thousand dollars to DeLay. Abramoff in turn hit up his Indian tribe clients for the cash. The paper doesn't explain where any of this might land in terms of the law or ethics rules.

Abramoff, right, with attorneyThe Post fronts a story about a former D.C. city worker who was sentenced to 21 years in jail for having unprotected sex with some women while he knew he was HIV positive. But that's not what caught TP's eye. This is: "One in 20 [D.C.] residents is infected with the AIDS virus, the highest rate of any major U.S. city."

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine.

Submitted by: Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


 

AAS: In rapid motions, judge picked for DeLay case - Nov. 4

GOP justice ignores questions about his ties to DeLay committee to make appointment.

The judicial carousel in U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's conspiracy case almost spun out of control Thursday as the search for a judge beyond the hint of any political taint reached the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, a Republican, named Pat Priest, a retired Democratic judge from his hometown of San Antonio, to hear the case — but not before Jefferson's own multiple ties to DeLay's political operation were questioned.

Jefferson waved off questions about those ties Thursday afternoon as he searched for a judge to hear the biggest political trial in Texas for this generation. He tapped Priest just minutes before prosecutors filed a motion questioning the perception that Jefferson has too many ties to DeLay's committee and co-defendants to be impartial.

Jefferson shared the same campaign treasurer and a consultant as DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority. One of his largest campaign donations — $25,000 — was from the arm of the Republican National Committee that is at the center of the allegation that DeLay and his co-defendants laundered corporate money into political donations in 2002.

The justice also traveled in 2002 on a campaign swing with one DeLay co-defendant, John Colyandro, on a plane provided by a law partner of a lawyer representing another DeLay co-defendant, Jim Ellis. He also attended a Houston fundraiser with the chairman of the Republican National Committee at the house of a board member of Texans for a Republican Majority.

Finally, DeLay's political action committee endorsed Jefferson.

Dick DeGuerin"So what?" said DeLay's lawyer Dick DeGuerin, left. "Is (Travis County District Attorney) Ronnie Earle saying he (Jefferson) appointed the wrong judge? It's a done deal. It's over."

Earle, who is prosecuting DeLay, did not comment Thursday night beyond his written legal motions. But the prosecutor's only recourse might be to challenge Priest if there is a reason to question his impartiality.

A search of state and federal databases late Thursday showed Priest gave $150 each to three Democratic state representatives from San Antonio in 2004.

Full Story - Austin American-Statesman.  D.H.:  Judge Priest is a highly-regarded judge who has presided over a number of high-profile cases with a strong reputation for fairness.  First elected as a judge in 1980, he has taught criminal law and procedure and trial advocacy at St. Mary's Law School, where I graduated in 1973, and is the author of an article in the Texas Bar Journal entitled, "Eyewitness Identification And the Scientific Method."  He is also the author of "Texas Courtroom Criminal Evidence."

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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Thursday, November 03, 2005

 

AAS: Judicial selection spinning in DeLay case - Nov. 3

Appearance of conflicts follows judges up the political ladder.

The judicial carousel in U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's conspiracy case almost spun out of control Thursday as the search for a judge beyond the hint of any political taint reached the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.  But even he has deep partisan ties.

JeffersonChief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, right, asked to name a trial judge for the DeLay case, shared the same campaign treasurer and consultant as DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority. One of his largest campaign donations — $25,000 — was from the arm of the Republican National Committee that's at the center of the allegation that DeLay and his co-defendants laundered corporate money into political donations in 2002.

The carousel began spinning Tuesday when DeLay's lawyers successfully got State District Judge Bob Perkins, D-Austin, taken off the case because of political donations he had made to Democratic candidates and causes, including the Internet-based organization MoveOn.org.

Taking a page from that playbook, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, on Thursday filed a motion that forced presiding Judge B.B. Schraub, who was supposed to name Perkins' replacement, to withdraw because of his political donations to Republicans.

Schraub asked Jefferson to name a trial judge for the former U.S. House majority leader.

That's when Texans for Public Justice, a group tracking campaign donations, disclosed that public campaign records show Jefferson has paid Austin consultant Susan Lilly $115,779 since 2001. He also had Bill Ceverha, the treasurer for DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority, as his campaign treasurer. A judge already has ruled in a separate civil lawsuit that Ceverha broke the law by not reporting the corporate donations that DeLay's committee spent during the 2002 elections.

"Where does it stop?" said DeLay's lawyer Dick DeGuerin when told the news.

Yet he insisted Jefferson could appoint a fair judge despite the apparent conflicts — and, by law, he is the last one who can.

"This is just an administrative task, not a judicial one," DeGuerin said. "Like it or not, Ronnie (Earle) is stuck with it."

That remained unclear Thursday afternoon.

Jefferson's office has not responded for comment. And Earle has not commented since filing his motion to remove Schraub.

In an unprecedented move, Earle argued that Schraub should step aside because of campaign donations he made to Republican candidates, including Gov. Rick Perry, who was a central player in DeLay's 2003 attempt to redraw Texas congressional districts. Within three hours, Schraub stepped aside, asking Jefferson, a Republican, to name a trial judge for the DeLay case. Perry appointed Jefferson to the court in 2001, and he was promoted to chief justice last year.

The escalating war over which judge should preside over the state's biggest political investigation of this generation could have a bearing on an array of pre-trial issues, particularly whether DeLay could get a fair trial in heavily Democratic Travis County, which DeLay lobbied to have split into three congressional districts in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.

DeLay, along with two co-defendants, is accused of conspiring to violate a law barring corporate money being spent on campaigns and laundering $190,000 of corporate money into political donations to Texas candidates during the 2002 elections. Specifically, the indictment accuses DeLay and co-defendants John Colyandro of Austin and Jim Ellis of Washington, D.C., of exchanging $190,000 of corporate money for the same amount in noncorporate money from an arm of the Republican National Committee.

The defendants have denied wrongdoing. Their lawyers have argued that the corporate money ban is vague, that the law doesn't prohibit sending corporate money out of Texas and that the RNC donations were legally raised in other states. They also claim Earle's investigation is a political vendetta for DeLay's role in congressional redistricting.

In Thursday's motion, Earle argued that Schraub should step aside for the same reasons that Perkins was removed from the case.

Saying he was using the same rationale employed by DeLay's lawyers, he wrote that Schraub, like Perkins, is a fair and impartial judge with a "sterling reputation" of honesty and integrity. But Earle wrote that's "unfortunately no longer the standard in our state for the judiciary." He argued that Schraub could be personally biased for DeLay and against Earle because of his political donations.

According to Earle's motion, Schraub has given $5,600 — roughly the same amount as Perkins — to Republican candidates, including President Bush, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Gov. Rick Perry, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth and state Rep. Ed Kuempel.

Earle wrote that the $1,500 to Perry was particularly troubling because Perry was a central player in DeLay's successful attempt in 2003 to have Texas congressional districts drawn to his liking. As governor, Perry called the special legislative sessions where the districts were redrawn to shift the balance of power in the congressional delegation from Democrats to Republicans.

The prosecutor also noted that Perry appointed Schraub as presiding judge and that Schraub is up for re-appointment in January.

"It was a stupid motion," DeGuerin said. "This is an admission by Ronnie Earle that this is a political case. It's almost like he said, 'OK, you got me.' "

As is the practice in Travis County, Perkins was assigned the case randomly. But in a county where only one criminal district judge is a Republican, the odds were high that a Democratic judge would be assigned.

In court Tuesday, Earle argued that taking the unprecedented step of reassigning judges because of political donations in a state where judges are elected as partisans would be as divisive as "Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds."

On Thursday, DeGuerin said, "Relax, Chicken Little. The sky is not falling."

lcopelin@statesman.com; 445-3617.

Source:  Austin American-Statesman.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

PERU: Veteran Soldiers, Police Recruited for Iraq by U.S. Contractors

Angel Paez, Inter Press Service (IPS) Wed Nov 2, 6:20 PM ET

LIMA, Nov 2 (IPS) - "Pirana", a former Peruvian army sergeant who fought the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) Maoist guerrillas in the jungles of Peru in the 1990s, decided at the last minute not to travel to
Iraq with around 200 former members of the military and police recruited by the U.S.-based private security firm Triple Canopy.

"My mom convinced me not to go," Pirana told IPS on condition of anonymity. "She told me she would prefer to see me poor but alive rather than dead for a handful of dollars."

Click here for complete article.

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Using a bit of sarcasm; we're sure going to win the hearts and minds by bringing Roman Catholic merceneraies into Iraq that speak a language neither our troops or the Iraqis can understand. Since they work for a "Private Concern" all the rules of civilized warfare are out the window.

Another example of the Bush administration's thought and planning when it comes to waging a war of obcession.


Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone Star Democrats



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Libby Arraigned. Claims Innocence

Scooter Libby's innocent plea may lead to real fireworks in the court. Or at least we may have some interesting discovery and a whole lot of traitors being subpoened. Will all the bums eat eachother? Common goop says that the prosecutor told Libby that a not guilty plea will still lead to considerable time in the slammer. Bush has got to be depressed about this.

There is little doubt in my mind that the defense will spend eons on discovery, making motions to "protect national security" and otherwise exhaust the trial off Larry King and the front pages. I mean this is not the Scott Peterson case. Libby is so boring to the max.

If there was a deal in the White House --that Libby would go through this ordeal and take the fall--all for a presidential pardon, would this in itself amount to obstruction of justice? Just wondering.

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AAS-AP: Presiding Judge recuses himself in DeLay case

BREAKING NEWS

Trial judge to be named in Delay case after presiding judge recuses himself.

A higher authority will name trial judge in Delay case after presiding Judge B.B. Schraub, a Republican, recused himself today.

Source:  Austin American-Statesman.

D.H. note:  The following Associated Press story provides more details on this bizarre twist:

DeLayAUSTIN, Texas - Two days after U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay (left) won a fight to get a new judge in his case, prosecutors on Thursday succeeded in ousting the Republican jurist responsible for selecting the new judge.

Administrative Judge B.B. Schraub recused himself after District Attorney Ronnie Earle filed a motion asking for his removal from the case.

Schraub said he will ask the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court name a judge to preside over DeLay's conspiracy and money laundering trial.

State district Judge Bob Perkins, a Democrat, was removed from DeLay's case Tuesday after DeLay's legal team cast doubt on Perkins' ability to judge the case fairly because of more than $5,000 in contributions he's made to Democrats.

Earle said in his motion filed Thursday that Schraub has made more than $5,000 in contributions to Republican candidates, including to Gov. Rick Perry, a DeLay ally, which calls into question Schraub's impartiality in the case.

Prosecutors had asked for Schraub to recuse himself or appoint another judge to take his place. The motion said that Schraub could ask Perry to appoint the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to assign a judge to conduct a hearing on the motion.

Source-Full Story:  AP-Yahoo News.


 

AP: DeLay staffers attempted to help controversial lobbyist

Thursday, November 3, 2005; Posted: 1:00 p.m. EST (18:00 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. Tom DeLay's staff tried to help lobbyist Jack Abramoff win access to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, an effort that succeeded after Abramoff's Indian tribe clients began funneling a quarter-million dollars to an environmental group founded by Norton.

"Do you think you could call that friend and set up a meeting," then-DeLay staffer Tony Rudy wrote to fellow House aide Thomas Pyle in a December 29, 2000, e-mail titled "Gale Norton-Interior Secretary." President Bush had nominated Norton to the post the day before.

Fro complete article Click Here.

Terry's Comments: There's almost too much muck coming out on Republican politicians and "Aides" in power. Delay is kind of being hidden in the fog of Whitehouse machinations of the Plame conspiracy and cover up. I've put a ding into my News program so I can keep Delay's machinations and crimes up to date on Demlog and Lone Star Democrats.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone Star Democrats


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A Pandora's Box of Judicial insanity is now open in Texas.

Second Judge Out for DeLay Trial

By APRIL CASTRO, Associated Press Writer 7 minutes ago

AUSTIN, Texas - Two days after U.S. Rep.
Tom DeLay won a fight to get a new judge in his case, prosecutors on Thursday succeeded in ousting the Republican jurist responsible for selecting the new judge.

Please read full article at Yahoo News


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The Delay Precedence is as alive as a virus in Texas' judicial system. Under the precedence that Judge Perkins was removed from the Delay criminal case, there is going to be delay after delay before the People of Texas or Delay can receive Justice.

As a political blogger and group owner, I now presume I cannot be tried on any charge by a Republican or any judge that has donated to the Republican party or written laudatory statements about Republican candidates.

Delay is turning the political and judicial organization of Texas into a national Joke with his gerrymandering and judicial tactics.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
Moderator: Lone Star Democrats


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AAS: Earle challenges Republican judge - Nov. 3

BREAKING NEWS

EarleTravis County DA Ronnie Earle, right, wants DeLay judge Schraub out and new judge to name replacement. More to come.

Source:  Austin American-Statesman.
 
Submitted by: Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
www.haigler.info
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com

 

Slate-Papers: Karl's Bad - Nov. 3

By Eric Umansky - Posted Thursday at 5:28 AM ET

Citing "Republican sources familiar with White House deliberations," the Washington Post's lead says some of Karl Rove's co-workers think he needs to go. The New York Times leads with the Iraqi government's public invitation for former Saddam-era junior officers to come back to the army. The government has been letting former officers back in for more than a year, which is probably why the other papers devote only a few lines to the announcement. The Times acknowledges the previous overtures but argues that the public nature of the invite marks a big ramp-up in the effort to bring Sunni officers back into the fold. The Los Angeles Times leads with more results from its recent poll, this time emphasizing that a slight majority of respondents in California support a proposition that would require minors who want abortions to first tell their parents. USA Today leads with bad news for its readers: Airfares for Thanksgiving time are up 15 percent from last year.

RoveSome "top White House aides," says the WP, have argued the president won't be able to move beyond the leak case so long as Rove, left, sticks around. "You can not have that [fresh] start as long as Karl is there," said a "GOP strategist who has discussed the issue with top White House officials." About 20 paragraphs down, the paper explains that the Rove "discussions," such as they are, have been "informal" and involve "people inside and outside the White House."

The Post's lead also sees evidence that prosecutors are still circling Rove: They called the attorney for Time's Matt Cooper and went over calls his client had with Rove. Anyway, the most intriguing part of the story is the part that's not in the paper: Who is trying to shank Rove by blabbing to the Post?

The Scooter Libby indictment refers to an "Official  A" who offered up Plame's identity to two reporters. As today's Post points out, "White House colleagues say Rove is clearly 'Official A.' " Newsweek's Jonathan Alter says that means Rove violated a Clinton-era directive barring such disclosures. It's not a law, but the order stipulates that anybody who violates it should have their security clearance revoked, a punishment a few Clinton-era officials faced.

McClellanA piece inside the NYT reminds that White House spokesman Scott McClellan, right, has been "unwilling or unable" to retract his previous assurances that Rove wasn't involved in the leak. The Times also gives this peek into the WH's operations: The Plame "case is almost never discussed openly among senior officials. ... It is unclear to anyone except Mr. Bush's very inner circle, if to them, how much the president knows about the investigation, what he was told by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby and what role Mr. Cheney played in the events."

The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with deaths in Iraq: About 20 civilians were killed by a bomb outside a Shiite mosque south of Baghdad. Another 10 Iraqis were killed in two other bombings. The Pentagon also announced the deaths of six troops, including two Marines who died when their attack helicopter was apparently shot down.

Citing residents of one Iraqi town, the Post mentions that about 20 people were killed late yesterday by two U.S. airstrikes. "The people gathered to rescue people whose house was bombed in the first strike," said one neighbor. "A short time after they gathered, another plane came and bombed the house again, killing most of them."

AlitoThe Post and NYT both flip through Judge Alito's rulings and back up what a WP op-ed asserted earlier this week: Alito, left, tends to have narrow interpretations of civil rights laws. As the Post puts it, the Supreme Court nominee "repeatedly has set a higher bar than his fellow judges for plaintiffs to prove that they were discriminated against."

The Post's off-lead previews some of the domestic cuts congressional Republicans are contemplating. The WP focuses on a proposal that would trim about 300,000 people from food stamp programs. That's in the House bill, but not in the Senate version, so it's no sure thing. And as the Journal flags, some moderate Republicans are warning they're not down with the cuts. A Post editorial flags another area facing cuts: student loans.

In the only coverage that TP sees of it, the NYT picks up on the military acknowledging that a top al-Qaida suspect, Omar al-Faruq, escaped from a U.S. jail in Afghanistan this summer. Faruq is believed to have been a point man for al-Qaida in Southeast Asia. He was also scheduled to testify in a courts martial against a guard who allegedly abused prisoners.

Yesterday, TP questioned the Post's decision to abide by government requests and not out the "Eastern European democracies" that are hosting secret CIA prisons. Today, the Financial Times—with an assist by Human Rights Watch—names names: Romania and Poland

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com.  Source:  Slate Magazine.

Submitted by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

 

DVO: Remembering Rosa Parks

We all need to take a moment to reflect on the life and passing of the mother of the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks (shown at right being fingerprinted after her arrest almost 50 years ago). By her simple act of deciding that enough was enough, Rosa Parks lit the fire that brought Jim Crow to its knees.

Her life is living proof of what a powerful force for good one person's courage and resolve can be. The memory of Rosa Parks will always be a beacon of hope and inspiration in the world's journey to justice.

~David Van Os


 

Bill Spier: Yes, More on Niger

I promised I would no longer obsess over the Niger forgeries on Demlog after taking up too much space already. I cannot help myself.

Philip Giraldi, fomerly of "The Company" speculates on truth.org today that it was my old friend Michael Ledeen who was in the position to arrange for and get the phoney Niger docs to the OSP in the Pentagon--where he was a consultant and good buddy of Hadley, and a Cheney advisor. As Giraldi says, Ledeen was also on the payroll of the Italian Ministry of the Interior. (Ledeen also played bridge with really shadowy partners while in Rome.) Michael Ledeen denies knowing anything about the Niger forgeries. Disenginuous? Nah, he's lying. Ledeen just cannot help himself. He was a bagman during the Iran Contra scandal and remains addicted to the profession.

The OSP, or Office of Special Plans within the Pentagon was operated by Douglas Feith. It was here that the phony intellegince reports were oragnized and probably transmitted to the WHIG. Operatives within the OSP also included convicted felon and spy for the Likud, Lawrence Franklin, and Harold Rhode. They both met in Rome with Manucher Ghorbanifar (Ledeen's long time friend and fellow bagman in Iran Contra) and Italian military intelligence. Before Feith left the Pentagon, he was said to have ignored the Senate Intelligence Committee's requests for OSP records. The OSP must be cracked in order to lift the veil on war propaganda production.

Jeez, Iraq did not stand a chance. What with arab hating-Likudniks like Ledeen, Feith, Rhode, and Franklin; with Cheney wanting to save Halliburton financially, Christian radicals wanting to do a missionary thing in Iraq, the PNAC dopes sizzling for conquest, and W itching for a shootout in Bagdhad---it's no wonder Rumsfeld didn't use nukes!

Some fellow liberal bloggers muse that we may never get to bottom of the conspiracy to destroy Iraq and this country. If I were not a Geneva Covention abiding sort of guy, I would say: torture Ledeen and Feith.

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2006 Campaign Started November 1, 2005

by Bill Spier

Like many other liberals, I am not real optimisitic that Senator Reid's invocation of Rule 21 will pry much out Robert's committee. Though, all the pig wailing from Roberts, Lott and Frist was a treat I did not expect when I put my pants on yesterday morning. Truthfully, the only reports issued out of Robert's committee were lies and a set up to blame everything on the CIA. The ranking committee minority, Jay Rockefeller, is not a combative or particulary bright Democrat; and he is harldy the one to duke it out with Roberts on Phase II. Therefore, Reid and Durbin needed to unveil Senate Republican duplicty in the whole matter of the cover up. By invoking Rule 21, Reid and Democratic leaders signaled a weakened Republican majority that Democrats can and will go on the offensive--and wage war on more than one front. While public attention stays focused on the Iraq debacle and White House crimes leading to the bloodletting, Reid put the Republicans on notice that the Democrats are not going to cower in front of the nuclear option threat when Alito's nomination is debated.

November 1, 2005 was the day the Democrats began the 2006 campaign.


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CJN: Feingold's 'no' vote on Patriot Act finds chorus of supporters

FeingoldIn 2001, Sen. Russ Feingold, left (D-Wisc.) was the only senator out of 100 to vote “no” on the USA Patriot Act.

The maverick vote made him a pariah in some circles and a hero in others.

“It was a tough and lonely decision,” the junior senator from Wisconsin told a gathered crowd of 400 at Cleveland State University on Oct. 16. But “I was surprised and gratified to discover my vote sounded a chord.”

Feingold spoke at the Cleveland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s annual Ed Likover Memorial Lecture. He noted that he has given talks on the subject of the Patriot Act in Florida and Washington, D.C., and each time has drawn a large crowd.

The USA Patriot Act passed and was signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 26, 2001. The act expanded the powers of government and law enforcement agencies in the wake of 9/11. “USA Patriot” is an acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.”

Sen. Feingold had problems with the act, not the least of which was its name. The way the bill was rushed through the House and Senate also disturbed him. “This was legislation on the fly,” he said.

Section 215 of the act was particularly troubling to the Democratic senator. It authorized the FBI to examine library records and medical records and loosened restrictions on wiretapping.

Some of portions of the act, including the expanded surveillance powers, are up for renewal as part of the act’s “sunset provisions.” They will expire on Dec. 31, 2005, unless the House and Senate agree to renew them. In the coming days and weeks, Congress will meet to hash out the details of an amended Patriot Act.

“Attorneys General (Ashcroft and Gonzalez) have given (renewal) the hard sell. It is their major goal,” said Feingold. But he feels that the version of the bill currently put forward by the House has not made the necessary changes. The version authored by the Senate, he feels, “will fix parts that went too far.”

Specifically, Feingold is against library searches, so-called “sneak-and-peek” searches of peoples’ homes, and secret court orders that allow wiretaps and other surveillance.

The Senate bill would require the government to prove a connection to terrorism or espionage before utilizing the act and require seven days notice before search or surveillance.

It’s hard to tell whether there have been abuses of the act so far or even if law enforcement has used section 215, says Feingold, because the government refuses to release that information. “They are not candid on whether they have asked for reading records.”

Before voting against the Patriot Act, Sen. Feingold was best known for co-authoring the McCain-Feingold bill, which limited campaign contributions for political candidates. Being a senator from Wisconsin, he said, has a legacy of both Progressivism and McCarthyism. “We try to focus on the former,” he said.

In his Cleveland talk, Feingold also addressed his opposition to the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and the recent and upcoming Supreme Court nomination hearings.

Full story: Cleveland Jewish News.


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