Saturday, December 17, 2005


Barhorst: Corruption and Tyranny--Our Present Reality Show.

By Terry Barhorst, right

If anyone in the world still doesn’t understand how a democratic country can fall into the corruption and tyranny of either extreme, right or left, the United States is presently presenting a reality show on the subject.

Increment by increment there are those who are taking away the basis of our constitutional liberties, our health care, our jobs, and our privacy -- supposedly to protect us from our “enemies.” There are those who present us with a set of religious moral values, that they demand we live by, while they use these same moral values as tools of control with no sign of any belief in them themselves.

Below is an article written over two years ago. I’m not going to quote from it. I’m going to paste it to this short introduction I’ve written. I read it again today and it reflects so much of what has happened to us and our country during the rule of the present majority party and President Bush.

Submitted by Terry D. Barhorst Sr.



Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes [the] media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


Slate-Papers: Wiretrap - Dec. 17

By Michael Brus - Posted Saturday at 12:18 PM ET

The Washington Post and New York Times lead with the Senate's failure to renew the Patriot Act (parts of which are set to expire on Dec. 31). Four Republicans -- Chuck Hagel, Lisa Murkowski, John Sununu, and Larry Craig -- backed the Democratic filibuster, leaving the GOP seven votes short of the 60 needed to end debate. The Senate leadership promised more filibuster votes in the two days remaining before Congress recesses (the House has already approved the act's extension), but senators from both parties predicted that few votes will change. (Two Democrats voted with the GOP; click here for a full breakdown.) The Wall Street Journal -- which places this story atop its news box -- reminds that even if the Patriot Act expires, the feds may still invoke it for investigations already begun or for new investigations of crimes committed before the law expired. On the NYT Op-Ed page, Rudy Giuliani argues that the bill to extend the act adequately guards civil liberties and should be passed.

In defending their votes, eight Democratic senators cited yesterday's NYT story revealing that the National Security Agency has been wiretapping hundreds of Americans without obtaining warrants. (President Bush, below left, authorized the surveillance with a secret executive order in 2002.) The Post, Bush, admitting he signed secret wiretap authorizationJournal, and LAT -- which fronts the story -- all refer to the impact of their competitor's article. In today's NYT article on the Patriot Act, a "government official" tells the paper that Bush has been revising and reviewing the surveillance program every few months to ensure that the authority is not abused. Vice President Dick Cheney defended the program in a closed-door session with lawmakers at the Capitol. The Post, in a top-front item devoted to the story's aftermath, reports that NSA snooping began even before Bush signed the executive order. (In this Post story, the NYT executive editor explains -- sort of -- what changed during the year in which the paper deferred publication of its scoop.)

The NYT and WP both go below the fold with reports on the Dec. 6 government massacre of peasants in the rural Chinese village of Dongzhou. The NYT notes that "the official account of last week's violence widely diverges from the account of almost every villager interviewed." The villagers say that authorities shot to death about 20 people, and many more are missing. The government has been trying to bribe families into saying that their relatives were killed by their own gasoline bombs instead of by government bullets. Those who don't take the money are beaten. The Post focuses on the creative methods that some Chinese have employed to spread the truth on the Internet. When Chinese Web site administrators, fearful of government reprisals, deleted posts referring to Dongzhou, users began posting veiled references to the event on bulletin boards ostensibly commemorating dissident martyrs from the past.

Google has reached a tentative deal to buy 5 percent of AOL. (The Post fronts this, and the NYT teases.) AOL is already Google's biggest advertiser, and this deal ensures AOL a chunk of free advertising on Google, $1 billion in cash, and exclusive rights to sell Google's banner ads (it will keep a 20 percent commission on all sales). In exchange, Google will remain AOL's primary search engine for at least five years (MSN had been vying to take its place). Although it has been losing users rapidly, AOL is still the largest ISP in the country, with 20 million paid subscribers. An expert quoted in the NYT says that this is the first time Google has made an explicitly strategic move to block a rival (Microsoft); until yesterday, it had pretended to ignore the competition. In its lead story, the Journal notes that Time Warner (AOL's parent) will become the first company capable of selling ads across all media -- TV, print, and Web.

Va. Gov. Mark WarnerThe Post fronts Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (right)'s executive order to prohibit discrimination against gays in state hiring. Warner, a moderate, is considering a run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Phizer defeated a generic-drug producer in court to secure patent protection for Lipitor until 2011, the Journal reports. Lipitor, which lowers cholesterol, is the world's best-selling legal drug.

Novelist Orhan Pamuk appeared in an Istanbul courtroom to face charges that he insulted his country when speaking about Turkish genocide to a journalist, the Post reports inside. The judge delayed the trial, and nationalists chucked eggs at the author as he left the courthouse.

The Journalist and the Politician. When Jim Lehrer, below left, interviewed President Bush yesterday, he tried to overcome the president's reluctance to talk about the NYT government-eavesdropping story:

JIM LEHRER: I mean, [the wiretapping story is] on the front page of the New York Times, the Washington Post, every newspaper in America today, and it's going -- it's the main story of the day. So --

PRESIDENT BUSH: It's not the main story of the day.

JIM LEHRER: Well, but I mean in terms of the way it's being covered --

PRESIDENT BUSH: The main story of the day is the Iraqi election.

JIM LEHRER: Right, and I'm going to get to that.

Jim LehrerWhat interests TP about this exchange is that Jim Lehrer is not really saying what he means. President Bush is certainly right about the Iraq election being the biggest story of the day. The NYT, which broke the domestic-spying story, gave the election a four-column lead on the same day. Even Lehrer would probably admit that a 70-percent voter turnout in a country just emerging from 40 years of totalitarian rule means more, in historical terms, than a revelation of domestic civil-liberties abuses. What Lehrer really means is something akin to this: "The Iraqi election may be the biggest story of the day, but it's not my job as a journalist to let you bask in a policy victory. It's my job to hold your feet to the fire, so I'm going to hammer you on domestic wiretapping." This is a perfectly respectable position for a newsman to take, of course; TP might act the same if he were in Lehrer's shoes. But it's worth noting that journalists, like politicians, sometimes feel the need to rationalize their agenda.

Michael Brus, a former Slate assistant editor, is a writer and social worker in Seattle.
Source: Slate Magazine.

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

Friday, December 16, 2005


AP: Bush Defends, Explains Comment on DeLay

4 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush, below right, said Friday his statement that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was innocent of criminal charges in Texas was meant to signal confidence in the justice system and not to make a pronouncement about the individual case.

"The point I was making was 'innocent until otherwise proven,'" Bush said in an interview to Friday for "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer." "It's a belief in the system, and that's not always the way people are treated here in Washington as you know."

On Wednesday, Bush was asked on Fox News Channel whether he believed DeLay was innocent, and he replied, "Yes, I do."

Spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday that Bush was exercising his "presidential prerogative" in commenting on the case.

Click here for complete article.

Terry's Comment: To Bush, a statement made as a truth is a perishable item that can be discarded as soon as it begins to decay and replaced by another statement made as truth that can be the complete reverse of the discarded statement. Apparently he believes that the American public's attention span and honest memories are as lacking as his.

D.H.: It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland -- words mean just what I say they mean, no more, no less. Bush clearly initially stated a belief in DeLay's factual innocence, but when his hand was called, he retreated into the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty -- something entirely different. Moreover, he could not bring himself to parrot the usual presumption, but instead substituted the word "otherwise" for "guilty." It seems to me that the house of cards is falling fast. These are acts of desperation.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


Slate-Papers: Snoop Scoop - Dec. 16

By Eric Umansky - Posted Friday, Dec. 16, 2005, at 4:07 AM ET

The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Los Angeles Times all lead with the Iraqi elections, which featured heavy Sunni turnout and were overall "strikingly peaceful." There were 35 insurgent attacks reported yesterday, half the daily average. USA Today teases the election and leads with a piece pointing out that many states do a really poor job of enforcing fire-safety standards at assisted-living facilities. The paper crunched data and found an average of one fatal fire per month in the industry.

Initial reports had overall turnout at about 70 percent. In January's elections it was 58 percent. The difference was Sunnis. In Ramadi, long an insurgent hotbed, voting was so strong some stations ran out of ballots by noon. (Don't worry, extras were shipped in.)

The NYT has a fascinating piece from Ramadi:

Tribal chiefs assumed the responsibility for security at polling centers, replacing American and Iraqi government troops with locally hired armed guards. Residents had said that the heavy involvement of American and Iraqi troops in the referendum process in October had intimidated many voters from going to the polls.

The Post also has a tidbit from Ramadi, where there were some particularly persuasive get-out-the-vote workers: "Masked guerrillas of the anti-U.S. Iraqi Islamic Army movement, wearing tracksuits and toting AK-47 assault rifles, went out among houses to encourage people to vote. Witnesses said the guerrillas told them: 'Do not be afraid, we will protect you.' "

The NYT's John Burns observes/argues that not only are Sunnis distancing themselves from al-Qaida-type groups, "many seemed to agree on the possibility of reconciliation between the Americans and the Sunnis." Said one Sunni storeowner, "Let's have stability, and then the Americans can go home."

The Times also cites polls suggesting that "most Iraqi voters were voting along demographic lines." But Reuters did some exit polling (albeit with just 500 voters). The results have the Shiite coalition in the lead, as expected, but with former prime minister and secularist Iyad Allawi running a close second.

In a big Page One takeout, the NYT says that for nearly four years the White House has been allowing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on some U.S. citizens without first getting court warrants. The snooping was limited to calls made to overseas. It was all part of a counter-terrorism effort and is, apparently, of questionable constitutionality. One of the curious things about the program is that there is already a special court that issues national-security-related subpoenas and has a much lower threshold for evidence than regular courts. That court has rarely—if ever—turned down a subpoena request.

Finally, the Times' snoop scoop has this:

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

What changed after a year?

The WP chases the NYT's scoop and posted its own take late last night. One expert on national security (who is also a civil liberties activist) told the paper, "This is, I believe, the first time a president has authorized government agencies to violate a specific criminal prohibition and eavesdrop on Americans."

Everybody gives front-page play to the White House conceding defeat and agreeing to Sen. McCain's amendment banning "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment any of detainee in U.S. custody, anywhere. The White House had spent the past few months threatening to veto it and more recently to water it down. Then earlier this week, the House joined the Senate in overwhelmingly supporting the amendment. After that, the White House announced McCain's proposal was the cat's meow. "We've been happy to work with him to achieve a McCain, left, visits Oval Office with Bushcommon objective," said the president, who had McCain, left, over to the White House to ... celebrate.

As a WP editorial reminds, there are still potential loopholes to McCain. For one thing, the administration has a minimalist approach toward what constitutes "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" treatment. And as Slate's Emily Bazelon details, an amendment set to be approved along with McCain's contains a "big, fat exception" on detainee treatment. Namely, it specifically allows military tribunals to use testimony gained through "coercion."

The papers front the White House announcing it will double spending on New Orleans levees to about $3 billion. As TP noted when USAT previewed the announcement yesterday, the administration was vague about the level of protection that will be added. And the papers offer different assessments. "That's not going to come close to protecting New Orleans, let alone the other areas," said an engineer quoted by the NYT (and who's working for Louisiana). But the Post says that while the feds dodged the question of Cat-5-level protection, most people seem pleased with the amount of dough promised. "We now have the commitment and the funding for hurricane protection at a level we have never had before," said New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, below right, appearing at the White House.

New Orleans Mayor NaginEverybody goes high with news that the cloned human embryonic stem cells purportedly created by a South Korean researcher appear to have been bogus. The scientist will reportedly cop to it today.

Back to the NYT's spy revelations … The Times held the story for the year. They must be happy their competition flew right past this:

At an April hearing on the Patriot Act renewal, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (below left), Democrat of Maryland, asked Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the F.B.I., "Can the National Security Agency, the great electronic snooper, spy on the American people?" "Generally," Mr. MikulskiMueller said, "I would say generally, they are not allowed to spy or to gather information on American citizens."

Emphasis added.

Eric Umansky (www.ericumansky.com) writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com.  Source:  Slate Magazine
Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com


AP: Patriot Act stalls in Senate - Dec. 16

By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer  --  9 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The Senate scrapped a Democratic-led effort to extend the USA Patriot Act for three months, increasing prospects that provisions President Bush considers indispensable to the war on terrorism may soon expire.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is seen at the National Press Club in Washington, December 8, 2005. Frist said on Thursday he expected the Senate would overcome opposition and pass this week a renewal of the USA Patriot Act, a centerpiece of President Bush's war on terrorism. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)"The House of Representatives opposes such an extension and the president will not sign such an extension," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, right, told his colleagues in a floor showdown Friday as lawmakers scurried to finish business for the year.

The Senate was still weighing a proposed accord with the House to extend the expiring 16 provisions of the law enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. But that compromise appeared to lack the necessary votes to succeed.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
lawfirm webpage:
If those links don't work, try our political blog: http://demlog.blogspot.com.


Van Os: Abbott's reaction to redistricting appeal is disingenuous

Texas Republican Legal Corruption

by David Van Os

Van Os, right, with Smith & Hightower, left(shown at right, receiving Backbone Award, with Sheril Smith and Jim Hightower, left)

     When he got the news that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear arguments in the Texas redistricting case, Bushite Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott quickly issued a press release blithely stating that it was "not surprising" for the Supreme Court to hear arguments on the case and that he expects the Court will find the Texas redistricting plan to be "wholly constitutional."

     First of all, every lawyer worth his salt knows that the U.S. Supreme Court only rarely grants review in cases appealed to it. Putting aside the fact that his statement is misleading, one must wonder why Greg Abbott felt it necessary to editorialize at all. Is he perhaps feeling defensive about the role he played as Texas Attorney General in giving his legal blessing to Tom DeLay's power grab?   

     Could he be feeling defensive about the fact that he was not successful in trying to persuade the Supreme Court to summarily affirm the lower court's decision without hearing argument? Or is he perhaps defensive because the professional legal staff in the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that the Texas redistricting was illegal?

     Remember, this is the same Greg Abbott who tried to convince the Texas courts they had no authority to take action over an unconstitutional school finance system. Even the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court had no stomach for that stellar argument.

     A Texas Attorney General who understood that his job was to be the People's Lawyer would have long ago sided with the people rather than with the Republican Party political bosses when it came to Texas redistricting. Greg Abbott may be concerned that Texans will learn the truth about their Attorney General's complicity with the rest of the Republican Party's power-grabbing political hacks in their arrogant pursuit of one-party rule -- and well he should be.

David Van Os
Democratic Candidate
For Texas Attorney General 2006



DH: LULAC holds Xmas dinner for students, reaffirms board

Abilene, Dec. 16 - Council 605 of LULAC held two events this week, the student chapter's Christmas banquet on Wednesday, and the adult Council's special called meeting last night to reaffirm their executive board.
Richard & Marcie sing Christmas carolsMarcie and Richard Rodriguez sister & brother, left, provided inspirational Christmas carols for LULAC Youth Council 1006's Christmas Holiday Dinner at the Le Bistro Room of the Civic Plaza Hotel downtown.  They were so good, I cried. 
Lamisa Martinez, Youth Council president, started the proceedings with the LULAC prayer and the pledge to the flag.
Youth Council members listen to carolsMikel Cadenas, a student member, read scripture -- Luke 2:1-10.  Sierra Rodriguez, another student member, read the LULAC Code.  A good time was had by all, right.
At the adult Council 605 last night at ACCESS on Ambler St. at Old Anson Rd., vice president Bob Gomez opened the meeting and reported the recommendation of the Dec. 3 District V Executive Board meeting that Billy Enriquez chair the meeting, pending the Board's suspension of Erasmo Martinez as Council president.  Anna Vedro brought a point of order that Enriquez was not a dues-paying member in good standing, and should not preside, since the Council has two vice presidents.  Her point of order was sustained by majority vote.  Gomez declined to chair the meeting and approached the other vice president, Ben Gonzales, who declined to preside as well.  Gomez then asked Mike Hernandez to chair the meeting, which was accepted without objection. 
Hernandez called the roll and announced a quorum was present.  Erasmo Martinez suggested that since the District Board had suspended him as president, one of the vice presidents should preside over the Council pending his appeal of the Board's suspension.  Erasmo also objected to the Board's requirement that he attend 60 hours of courses pending his reinstatement as president.  Sgt at arms Monica Diaz suggested that Erasmo's beef about the courses should be taken up in his appeal to the District, and not before the local Council. 
A lengthy discussion was held about who would preside over the chapter pending Erasmo's suspension.  Bob Gomez again declined.  Ben Gonzeles said he was willing to step up, if he received a lot of help.
Other officers were stated to be Secretary, Anna Vedro; Treasurer, Gracy Lemon; Parliamentarian, Dora Martinez; and Chaplain, Rosa Rosana.  Erasmo said he was not resigning as president.
Acting president Ben Gonzales said we need to move on, that the controversy over the dispute between Erasmo and Joel Loya hurts us all, and hurts the Youth Council too, because "they look up to us."
Bob Gomez said the controversy troubled him greatly, that he had lost sleep over it, and that only God can help us.
Dave Haigler said, as the newest member, he felt pain at the public perception in the media that we cannot work out our problems among ourselves. 
presented by Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
325 677-4343 --
Dave@Haigler.Clearwire.net -- or D@Haigler.Info

Thursday, December 15, 2005


DH: The Repubs just don't get it

D.H.: I just read a really irrational editorial from the Sanford, N.C. Herald, which says, in part (I cannot stand to quote the whole ridiculous thing):

Dems have boxed themselves in - By David Limbaugh

At the core of the Democrats' incessant carping about the war in Iraq is their oft-stated belief that our attack on Iraq and our continued presence there are fueling the terrorist movement. But when you hear them arguing the point, you can't help coming away with the sense that it is not the terrorists' moral outrage over Iraq they are concerned with, but their own. They just don't dare go so far as to admit it.

You've heard them say our presence in Iraq is inciting otherwise peaceful Muslims to don their suicide bomber belts, and, "The Iraqi people view us as occupiers, not liberators." And how about their enthusiasm for the highly dubious (and patently absurd) poll that 80 percent of Iraqis want us out?

Surely they know that Islamofascist terrorists, who declared war on us years before they attacked us without provocation on 9/11, don't need any prompting to hate us infidels, capitalists and cultural decadents.

The whole, silly thing, if you really must read it.

D.H.: This is an entirely-uncritical us-vs.-them inanity. Everybody against us is a terrorist, Limbaugh seems to think. Yet repeated credible polls do in fact say 75% of Iraqis want us occupiers out of there. All 3 major factions agree on that. If we truly respected democracy there, we'd honor that vote of no-confidence.

It is not the "terrorists' moral outrage" that I care a whit about. I could give a rip what Osama bin Laden's moral code calls for. But I do care what the average Iraqis -- whether it be the majority Shiites, the minority but elitist Sunnis, or the Kurds -- care about.

And we need to get over this willingness to be totally ignorant of the culture of a sovereign country and still presume to invade and judge these people. The truth is -- our creation of a power vacuum by removal of Saddam did create a terrorist haven there. The Al Qaeda types were not there before, in fact, they were mortal enemies of Saddam; yet they are there now, big time. The native public's resentment of our occupation has made them sympathetic to these foreign terrorists. That is entirely our fault. We forced an alignment that was not there before.

The mission was misguided from the gitgo, and no bull about weakening our image can distract from that. Our image is in the garbage heap already, and only Bush's supporters fail to realize that. We cannot pretend to have a grand mission just to prop up the Bush PR machine. How about a dose of truth for a change?

The stated mission -- exporting Christianity and democracy -- was futile from the beginning. You cannot force democracy upon an unwilling culture at the point of a sword, and that is precisely what we have tried to do.

And you don't force Christianity on a culture by invading them either.

The sooner we recognize the futility of this mission and cut our losses, the better for us and for Iraq. If the government we set up there collapses, then there is nothing we can do about it, and we should admit it and come home.

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


AAS: Gammage joins Dem fray for Gov

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF - Thursday, December 15, 2005

Judge GammageBob Gammage, left, a former Texas Supreme Court justice last on a ballot 16 Novembers ago filed to seek the 2006 Democratic nod for governor today, blasting GOP Gov. Rick Perry for drumming up school finance ideas on a campaign-funded trip to the Bahamas.

Gammage, 67, stood next to a blown-up photograph of a yacht on shimmering waters — though not the boat enjoyed by Perry, supporters and advisers.

Full story.  Gammage declines to comment on Chris Bell, but their staffs utter subtle criticisms.

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


Dingell: Merry Xmas to all, except Happy Holidays to O'Reilly

Dingell, celebrating 50 years as a member of CongressCongressman John D. Dingell, left, (MI-15) recited the following poem on the floor of the US House of Representatives concerning House Resolution 579, which expressed the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected. "Preserving Christmas" has been a frequent topic for conservative talk show hosts, including Fox News's Bill O'Reilly.

Watch Rep. John Dingell Recite the poem ---

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House

No bills were passed 'bout which Fox News could grouse;

Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,

So vacations in St. Barts soon would be near;

Katrina kids were nestled all snug in motel beds,

While visions of school and home danced in their heads;

In Iraq our soldiers needed supplies and a plan,

Plus nuclear weapons were being built in Iran;

Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell;

Americans feared we were on a fast track to -- well --

Wait--- we need a distraction--- something divisive and wily;

A fabrication straight from the mouth of O'Reilly

We can pretend that Christmas is under attack

Hold a vote to save it--- then pat ourselves on the back;

Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger

Wake up Congress, they're in no danger!

This time of year we see Christmas every where we go,

From churches, to homes, to schools, and yes -- even Costco;

What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy,

When this is the season to unite us with joy

At Christmas time we're taught to unite,

We don't need a made-up reason to fight

So on O'Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter, and those right wing blogs;

You should just sit back, relax--have a few egg nogs!

'Tis the holiday season: enjoy it a pinch

With all our real problems, do we honestly need another Grinch?

So to my friends and my colleagues I say with delight,

A merry Christmas to all,

and to Bill O'Reilly -- Happy Holidays.

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


SA Express: Bell offers initiatives to reduce abortions

Web Posted: 12/15/2005 12:00 AM CST

Roger Croteau and Gary Scharrer - San Antonio Express-News Staff Writers

NEW BRAUNFELS — Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris Bell called for more comprehensive sex education in schools and better health care for low-income women Wednesday as a way to reduce the number of abortions in Texas.

Speaking before about 75 members of the Hill Country Democratic Women's Club, he blasted Republican Gov. Rick Perry for pushing abstinence-only education in public schools and for vetoing a 2001 bill that would have provided $131 million in federal matching funds for family planning services.

"We have the second-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country," Bell said. "It's easy to blame a high school girl for getting pregnant, but when Texas is competing with the likes of Mississippi in teen pregnancy, we need to take a hard look at what we are teaching these kids.

"And despite all of Rick Perry's grandstanding on the steps of the Capitol every year, his policies have failed to reduce the number of abortions in Texas," he said, noting that close to 80,000 abortions occur in the state each year.

Click here to read entire article.

Submitted by Terry D. Barhorst Sr.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


SFC: Bush calls DeLay innocent, stands by Cheney and Rove

By Jim VandeHei, Washington Post - Thursday, December 15, 2005

Washington -- President Bush, right, said Wednesday that he is confident that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is innocent of money-laundering charges, and he offered strong support for several top Republicans who have been battered by investigations or by rumors of fading clout inside the White House.

In an interview with Fox News, Bush said he hopes DeLay, below right, a fellow Texas Republican, will be cleared of charges that he illegally steered corporate money into campaigns for the Texas Legislature and will reclaim his powerful leadership position in Congress.

"I hope that he will, 'cause I like him, and plus, when he's over there, we get our votes through the House," Bush told Fox News' Brit Hume.

Click here to read full article

Terry's Comment: That last sentence in the paste tells so much about Bush and the sickness in his administration.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

Latest post to DemLog.


AP: Breakthrough on torture ban - Dec. 15

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer - 24 minutes ago

McCainWASHINGTON - After months of resistance, the White House has agreed to accept Sen. John McCain (right) (news, bio, voting record)'s call for a law specifically banning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of foreign suspects in the war on terror, several congressional officials said Thursday.

The congressional officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they did not want to pre-empt an expected announcement later in the day at the White House, possibly by President Bush and McCain.

These officials also cautioned the agreement was encountering opposition in the House from Rep. Duncan Hunter (news, bio, voting record), R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

The White House at one point threatened a veto if the ban was included in legislation sent to his desk, and Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to all Republican senators to give an exemption to the CIA.

But congressional sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of the ban, and McCain, who was held and tortured for five years in Vietnam, adopted the issue.

He and the administration have been negotiating for weeks in search of a compromise, but it became increasingly clear that he, not the administration, had the votes in Congress.

McCain's original amendment would have prohibited "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held. It also would have required that service members follow procedures in the Army Field Manual during interrogations of prisoners in Defense Department facilities.

In discussions with the White House, that was altered to bring it into conformity with the Unifrom Code of Military Justice. That says that anyone accused of violating interrogation rules can defend themselves if a "reasonable" person could have concluded they were following a lawful order.

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


Slate-Papers: McCain Mutiny - Dec. 15

By Eric Umansky - Posted Thursday at 5:56 AM ET

Sen. McCainThe Washington Post leads with the House voting 308 to 122 for a non-binding resolution in support of the amendment by Sen. McCain, left, mandating humane treatment of detainees. The New York Times, which also fronts the resolution, says House GOP leaders had pushed to avoid any vote on McCain. In the end, 107 Republicans supported McCain's proposal. Meanwhile, the amendment itself is still stuck in congressional negotiations, where the White House is reportedly pushing for protections against possible Bushprosecution of interrogators. The Los Angeles Times leads with President Bush, right, continuing his reality campaign, yesterday acknowledging, "It is true that much of the [pre-war] intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq." Bush added that the choice to invade was "still the right decision." As the NYT suggests and others play down, most of the president's speech offered a more hard-edged defense. "We removed Saddam Hussein from power because he was a threat to our security," said the president.

The NYT leads with the bureaucratic morass that has defined the Small Business Administration's response to Katrina. The agency is responsible for giving low-interest loans to qualified Gulf Coast home-owners, but it's reviewed only a third of the received applications and rejected 82 percent of those. Apparently the latter stat is a result of the SBA being required to apply bank-level credit-worthiness standards. (USAT has previously reported on some of the agency's problems.) It's not all the SBA's fault: In a fine twist, many are applying for the loans because they need to get rejected there in order to qualify for FEMA grants. One of the upshots of all this: Wealthier residents are getting the lion's share of the loans. USA Today leads, for unknown reasons, with the fed's Gulf Coast reconstruction chief offering vague reassurances that the New Orleans levees will be built much stronger. "Federal Commitment Raised to New Level," announces USAT. So, the levees will be rebuilt to withstand, say, Cat 5 storms? How about a Cat 4? The official didn't say.

The Wall Street Journal, which also goes high with the president's comments, tops its world-wide newsbox with another poll showing Bush's approval rating inching up a smidge (from 38 to 39 percent). The Journal also flags poll data suggesting that the president's support is particularly lagging among seniors, who tend to make up a disproportionately large segment of midterm voters.

The NYT off-leads a preview today's vote in Iraq and plays up the potential for an "almost even" split between Islamist and secular parties. That intuition might be right, but it's no sure thing. What evidence does the Times have that secular parties are poised to offer a big challenge? In any case, we'll know soon enough: Here's how the vote will work; legislators are slated for four year terms.

The Post notices a blunt message by one of the top Shiite militia-cum-parties aimed, says the Iyad AllawiWP, at former prime minister and current secularist candidate Iyad Allawi, shown at left, voting today: "We are warning now: We will raise our weapons as we did before if the Baathists come to power again."

The WP says explosions were heard "throughout the night" in Baghdad. But there don't seem to have been major attacks. And in the Sunni town of Ramadi "people celebrated on the streets" after insurgent groups pledged to hold off attacking polling centers.

As the NYT fronts and others go inside with, the House, as expected, voted to extend the Patriot Act. But as the Times emphasizes, there might not be enough votes now in the Senate to overrule a threatened filibuster. In other words, the act's supporters might need to pull back and add some civil-liberties protections that the filibuster people have been demanding.

The WP alone fronts—and so far as TP can see, is the only paper that gives significant play to—the Pentagon all but acknowledging that a counter-terrorism program aimed at gathering info on U.S. citizens included details on peace activists and others who weren't suspected of possible connections to terrorism. "You can also make the argument that these things should never have been put in the database in the first place until they were confirmed as threats," said a "senior official." The story was first broken by NBC News, with an assist by a Post blogger. (The NYT covers it with wire copy.)

The NYT says inside that Democrat and Republican senators have agreed on a measure that would require the White House to give Congress regular, classified updates about the U.S.'s secret prisons abroad. The House hasn't considered similar legislation, so, of course, nothing might come of this.

AhmadinejadThe WP is also alone in fronting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's latest diplomatic effort, this time labeling the Holocaust a "myth." Said Ahmadinejad, right, "If someone were to deny the myth of the Jews' massacre, all the Zionist mouthpieces and the governments subservient to the Zionists tear their larynxes and scream against the person as much as they can."

Or as the NYT's sizzling headline puts it, "IRAN'S PRESIDENT CLARIFIES HIS STAND ON HOLOCAUST."

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

Disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.

Dave Haigler, Abilene, Texas
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Spier: Impoverished Katrina Victims Will Not Have a Joyous Christmas

By Bill Spier, right*

The Bush administration hopes that the gullible masses stay riveted on Bush’s déjà vu war speeches over the Holidays. If they don't, they may stumble upon some news on the plight of the poor two months after Hurricane Katrina. (Meanwhile,) on the Hill, congressional Republicans are in a frenzy to pass legislation restricting our freedoms, handing over $100 or so billion more to the Pentagon, handing a golden cattle prod to the evil Cheney, and still trying to sell off national patrimony. Then they go home for a well deserved vacation.

This holiday, the poor of Louisiana and Mississippi displaced by the storm rot in hotel rooms—but not for long. FEMA extended the support until later in January; a sort of Christmas gift to the Republicans. This has been an expensive deal for U.S. taxpayers—but heck—what’s a bit more national debt? We will just pay the Chinese back with cheaper dollars. Here is the ugliest part though: Where are those poor going to live after their eviction from temporary shelters? If the Republicans and the moneyed interests close to Bush have their way, not back to their cities and towns. They do, however, want the good white folk to rebuild and have made that possible through the S.B.A. Today’s
New York Times tells how only the right people will repopulate the devestated region.

Congress approved money to give low interest loans to those who will rebuild or repair their homes. The appropriation is managed through the S.B.A., which is way behind processing applications. That is no help to those about to be evicted from temporary shelter. It gets worse. In order to get a loan of up to $200,000, you must first be prepared to rebuild, and second, be credit worthy. You see, the S.B.A. applies the same creditworthy criteria for its loans as commercial banks. Get the drift?

So the loans are going to white neighborhoods and not to African-American neighborhoods. Poor folk without means, you have to wait until the rules change--you know, when pigs fly....

The NY Times: “The high rejection rate and the slow processing of applications are causing concern among government officials, academic experts and homeowners. Many say the problem undermines government pledges of aid, embodied by President Bush's promise in September to "do what it takes to help citizens rebuild.”

And, “As for the rejection rate, agency officials say the Small Business Administration's loan program could not risk taxpayer money by lending it to people with low incomes or poor credit. 'We're just dealing with the demographics in the area,' said Herbert L. Mitchell, the associate administrator who runs the agency's disaster assistance program.”

There you have it. When Bush gave his speech under klieg lights at the St. Louis Cathedral, with all its bombast, he sure spoke the truth to the white folks.

As we get closer to Christmas, Bush's handlers will feature him in many family photo ops. Then, he will go to Crawford for a rest.

After all, it has been 2 1/2 months hard work "doing what it takes to help citizens rebuild."

(*Bill Spier, Ph.D., of New York, is the brother of Roger Spier, M.D., President of the Abilene, Texas, Democratic Club.)

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Barhorst: Dickens' bah, humbug, Republican style

Jerry Falwell created a tempest in a teapot by saying that those who used the term “Holiday Tree” were trying to steal Christmas. With much more veracity, it can be argued that George Bush and the Republican-held House are trying to destroy Christmas or take it back to the 19th century with Charles Dickens and his fictional character Scrooge.

Starving children sitting in freezing hovels may come away from the works of fiction, like those written by Dickens, and into the reality that is the twenty-first century under the rule of George Bush.

Rents and utilities are moving from troposphere to stratosphere in cost, while more and more jobs are paying a minimum wage that has not risen in years. Health care and food stamps are on the way out the window.

The rich, of course, will have a Holiday buffet that includes the fatted Goose, the fatted congressman, and the sugared pudding of tax breaks.

The children of the poor will be lucky to have last year's winter coat, a single toy from a charity warehouse, and a parent with a temporary Christmas retail job who may earn enough to bring home an already cooked chicken from a supermarket.

Terry D. Barhorst Sr.

Other links:

Media Matters for America.

Common Dreams * Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Buzzflash News.

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AP: Novak thinks Bush knows Plame leaker - Dec. 14

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer 21 minutes ago

Columnist Bob Novak watches a basketball game in Washington in this Dec. 5, 2005 file photo. Novak, who first published the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, says he is confident that President George W. Bush knows who leaked Plame's name. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)WASHINGTON - Columnist Bob Novak, right, who first published the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, says he is confident that President Bush knows who leaked Plame's name.

Novak said that "I'd be amazed" if the president didn't know the source's identity and that the public should "bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is."

Novak's remarks, reported in the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer, came during a question and answer session Tuesday after a speech sponsored by the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record) urged Bush to identify Novak's source or to say that he does not know who it is.

Full story, AP-Yahoo News.

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


LT: Bush blames faulty intelligence, but says would invade Iraq again

By London Times Online & Agencies
BushPresident Bush, left, has admitted for the first time that his decision to go to war in Iraq was based on faulty intelligence.  But he still said that the decision to remove Saddam Hussein had been "the right one".
Mr Bush said that tomorrow's parliamentary elections in Iraq are a watershed moment that will inspire democracy across the Middle East.

But with public opinion still running against his mission, the President still was left defending his decision to go to war nearly three years ago.

"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq," he told a foreign policy forum on the eve of elections to establish Iraq’s first permanent, democratically elected government.

"And I’m also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we’re doing just that."

"We are in Iraq today because our goal has always been more than the removal of brutal dictator," he said.

"It is to leave a free and democratic Iraq in his place.

"My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. Saddam was a threat and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power," the President told the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars.

Most Americans see progress on establishing democracy in Iraq, but they are less optimistic about efforts to prevent a civil war and reduce the number of civilian casualties, polling found.

Fifty six per cent said they thought progress is being made in the establishment of democracy, but almost as many 53 per cent said that they thought the United States was losing ground in reducing civilian casualties, according to the poll by the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press.

Mr Bush’s speech is the fourth tackling the US role in Iraq.

In a speech on Monday he offered his view straightforwardly that 30,000 Iraqis "more or less" had died "in the initial incursion and in the ongoing violence against Iraqis".

In previous speeches, he has admitted that reconstruction efforts were too ambitions and that the US would have done better to work on small, local projects that were less vulnerable to sabotage, he said. It was now doing this.

But Mr Bush has stapled all these admissions to an emphatic statement that he did the right thing in going to war. On Monday, answering a question, he said "Knowing what I know now, I would make the same decision to invade.

Source:  London Times Online

D.H.: A couple of questions about this -- Why does he blame faulty intelligence if he would make the same decision today, based on what he knows today?  If intelligence information available in March 2003 were indeed faulty as he claims, why did he give the Medal of Freedom to resigning CIA Director George Tenet in Dec. 2004?

This reminds me of the AA definition of insanity, "Doing the same wrong thing over and over while expecting different results."

Saddam Hussein was an evil man, because of things like torturing prisoners, but what are we doing and those we sponsor doing now, besides torturing prisoners, with Gonzalesthe express approval of the White House under the counsel of Alberto Gonzales, right, now the Attorney General?

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

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