Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Two Senators Want Safer Chemical Plants

U. S. Senators Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn, have introduced legislation that would attempt to reduce the danger from terrorist attacks on chemical plants.

Federal and state regulations have long attempted to reduce dangers to the public from releases of chemicals from chemical manufacturing plants and from chemical storage and transportation facilities. However, these regulations are based on the danger of accidental risks. There is the assumption that, while chemical company managers and employees may make mistakes and take chances, no one wants to cause a deadly chemical release or explosion. However, protection from terrorist attacks must be based on the concept that some people want to cause a chemical incident that kills many people.

It has been estimated that a single chlorine tank could release enough vapor to kill several times the number of people killed by the 9/11 attacks. Yet, with all of the new security at airports, little has been done to protect the public from chemical plant attacks.

The Collins/Lieberman bill will require plants to assess vulnerability and to develop security and response plans. The bill will also require the Department of Homeland Security to develop standards for chemical plant security, with the ability to shut down plants that fail to develop acceptable plans.

Proponents of additional chemical plant security feared that the legislation would pre-empt state law that is stricter than the federal law. For example, laws in New Jersey that are stricter than the federal law could not be enforced. However, language to pre-empt state laws has been removed from the proposed law.

On the web:
New York Times Op-Ed

Washington Post

American Chemistry Council press release

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Terrorist Suspect Jose Padilla Indicted

The Bush administration today avoided a showdown before the U. S. Supreme court when Jose Padilla was indicted (with four others) for conspiracy to commit terrorist activities in foreign countries.

Padilla, an American citizen born in Brooklyn has been held in military a prison for over three years. Most of that time he was denied any contact with his attorney. Padilla’s case, long delayed by jurisdictional and other disputes, has been appealed to the Supreme Court. Padilla's lawyers had asked justices for a review of his detention without charge last month. The Bush administration was facing a deadline of next Monday to file its reply.

"They're avoiding what the Supreme Court would say about American citizens. That's an issue the administration did not want to face," according to Duke University law professor Scott Sillman. "There's no way that the Supreme Court would have ducked this issue." Some court observers feel that the Supreme Court would most likely would have held that Padilla’s detention was illegal. (see law professor Stephen Vladeck’s discussion of the Supreme Court case here.)

According to then Attorney General Ashcroft, Padilla was arrested and detained because he was planning to build a "dirty bomb", a conventional explosive device that would spread radio active material. However, his indictment (read it here) does not accuse him of planning a dirty bomb but of planning to carry out terrorist activities outside the United States.

The government is, we assume, planning to try Padilla. The trial will determine his guilt. However, what about the question that was going to be brought to the court about holding citizens without charge and without access to legal counsel. The current case appears to be moot.

Perhaps the next move will be for Padillas attorneys to ask for a dismissal of the indictment based on Padillas Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.

See Washington Post article.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"In one of the most intellectually incoherent major speeches ever delivered by a minor president..."

Richard Cohen started Op-Ed column in the Washington Post Thursday "In one of the most intellectually incoherent major speeches ever delivered by a minor president, George W. Bush blamed 'some Democrats and antiwar critics' last week for changing their minds about the war in Iraq."

To Bush’s comment that "It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began" Cohen replied that "it is even more deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how history was rewritten in the first place."

Cohen then points out the incorrect statements Bush made when he was selling his war to congress and expresses a lack of confidence in the Bush administration.

It is my opinion that Bush is doing everything possible to unite the country against his war.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Supreme Court: Now What?

Now that Harriett Miers has withdrawn, the question is "Who will President Bush pick now". Many moderates and liberals have worried that if her nomination failed due to opposition from the right, Bush would nominate someone more acceptable to the extreme right. He could nominate someone who has a proven right wing track record. That was my opinion. At the time I heard about Miers' withdrawal, I was writing a comment to post here supporting Miers' confirmation because of that very possibility.

Another possibility is that Bush will decide that the far right base is not loyal to him, and ignore their wishes and appoint a more moderate person who has a solid resume for a Supreme Court nominee. The Republican senators would not have the excuse of "lack of experience" as a base for their opposition. A moderate would also draw at least some support from the Democratic senators.

We will just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Chertoff on Iraq

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made a comment at a congressional hearing today that may be correct, but not in the way he meant. He made a comment about the time that it takes to plan actions (referring to the time they took to act on Huricane Katrina. Chertoff commented that the military took a "couple of years" to prepare for the war in Iraq.

We are told that the Iraq war was in response for the attack by a bunch of Middle Eastern (but non-Iraq) terrorists on 9/11. However, the air strikes on Baghdad started on March 20, 2003, less than a couple of years after 9/11.

Many have suspected that George Bush planned to attack Iraq before 9/11, but just needed an excuse. Did Chertoff let a secret slip our, or did he simply not remember the exact timeline? I think the latter is probably true. However, it is notable that the head of the government agency that seriously failed to keep the homeland secure (Chertoff was "Brownies" boss) may have made a correct statement only by accident.

Chertoff appeared before the House Select Committee on Hurricane Katrina today, and told them that the nations disaster relief system was overwhelmed by Katrina.

Still More Harriet Miers

So now we know, from the questionnaire she filled out in 1989, that Harriet Miers would support a constitutional amendment to ban abortions. That isn’t a surprise, considering what is known about her beliefs.

The question for Ms. Miers is how her personal beliefs affect her judgment on constitutional issues. As a conservative, she should believe in judicial restraint and in not allowing her personal beliefs interfere with her interpretations of the constitution and law.

Miers supported this principle in her written statement to the Senate: "'Judicial activism' can occur when a judge ignores the principles of precedent and stare decisis. Humility and self-restraint require the judiciary to adhere to its limited role and recognize that where applicable precedent exists, courts are not free to ignore it. Mere disagreement with a result is insufficient to justify ignoring applicable precedent, but reconsideration under appropriate circumstances is also necessary."

Referring to her service on the Dallas City Council in which she voted to urge the adoption of a flag discretion amendment, Miers wrote "There was a vast difference between our vote as a policy matter to prevent the desecration of the American flag, and the job of the courts (including the Supreme Court) to rule whether such an ordinance was constitutional."

We will have to wait and see whether Ms. Miers follows the true conservative viewpoint that judges only interpret the constitution and statutes, or, like such activists as Scalia and Thomas, she is willing to interject her personal beliefs into the judicial process.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Is Nobel Peace Prize for IAEA a Slap in the Face for Bush

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its director-general, Mohammed ElBaradei were awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize for Peace. Some think that the choice was a slap in the face for George Bush.

ElBaradei is an Egyptian lawyer who was educated, in part, in the United States. Under ElBaradei the IAEA refused to support White House claims, before the Iraq war was begun, that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program.

Among those are Peace Action, a nuclear disarmament group. According to the group, he awarding of the prize to ElBaradei "helps to shine a spotlight on the urgent need to deal seriously with the increasing danger of nuclear weapons, their spread and potential use."

"The Nobel Committee obviously understands something the Bush Administration does not, namely that international cooperation, rather than unilateral, pre-emptive war (or threats of such action) is the best way to halt the spread of WMD and enhance global security," said Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action.

According to Peace Action, "Awarding the prize to the IAEA and ElBaradei is also a none- too-subtle rebuke to the Bush Administration, which has sought ElBaradei's ouster. The Bush Administration tried to bully ElBaradei and the IAEA into supporting its erroneous claim that Iraq was attempting to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program in the lead up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2002 and early 2003. The Bush Administration has also accused the agency of being too soft on Iran regarding its nuclear development."

"While ElBaradei called them as he saw them -- supported by the facts on the ground -- regarding WMD in Iraq during the run up to the U.S. invasion, the Bush administration fixed facts to support their foregone conclusions and unilateralist ambitions. The bravery of ElBaradei in maintaining impartiality and professionalism in his mission to stem nuclear proliferation stands in stark contrast to the Bush administration's bending of intelligence to support their invasion plans," concluded Martin.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bush: "Now they've set their sights on Iraq"

President Bush and the supporters of his war in Iraq have always wanted to give the impression that radical Muslims were involved with Iraq at the time of 9/11/01, and therefore Iraq was a suitable target post 9/11.

He seems to have changed his tune with today’s speech on the war on terror. "Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq."

This time he seems to have it right. As long as Saddam was in charge, al-Qaeda was not in Iraq to any great extent. But now that there is a civil war in Iraq, the radicals see their chance to move in. So yes, Mr. President, because of your war the radicals have now set their sights on Iraq.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Reaction Mixed to Miers Court Nomination

Today President Bush nominated Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, to replace retiring U. S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Miers, 60, has never served as a judge on any level and lacks a record of opinions that might reveal how she would serve on the U. S. Supreme Court. About the only thing known about her is that she is a hard worker and a Bush confidante.

Before her nomination was announced this morning, liberals had been warning that the nomination of a conservative in the mold of Justice Scalia or Justice Thomas would bring about strong opposition in the Senate, provoking a very contentious committee and floor fight and possibly a filibuster.

Conservative groups, on the other hand, have worried about the opposite. They point out that they were responsible for the election of President Bush and that there support was based, in large part, on the belief that he would nominate conservative justices who would likely vote to overrule Roe v. Wade, the decision that kept abortion legal in all states.

To the nomination of a lawyer with no judicial experience, reaction is mixed.
Both Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada find advantages in the fact that Miers has not been a judge.

According to Hatch, “Harriett Miers will bring diversity and depth to the Court,” “She has broad professional experience that will provide a fresh perspective from outside the insular walls of the judiciary.”

Reid seemed to agree: "The Supreme Court would benefit from the addition of a justice who has real experience as a practicing lawyer. The current justices have all been chosen from the lower federal courts. A nominee with relevant non-judicial experience would bring a different and useful perspective to the court."
Added Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.: "[W]hen I choose judges In New York, I look for practical experience. And so the fact that she hasn't been a judge before, to me is actually a positive, not a negative."

However, the downside of the lack of judicial experience is the lack of a record on which to judge her judicial temperament and ideology.

"We know even less about Harriet Miers than we did about John Roberts and because this is the critical swing seat on the Court, Americans will need to know a lot more about Miers' judicial philosophy and legal background before any vote for confirmation." - Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Many Supreme Court justices had no prior experience: According to the White House, 10 of the 34 Justices appointed since 1933 came from within the president's administration, not from the judicial branch.
Among the other justices for whom the high court bench was their first judgeship were: Lewis Powell, Arthur Goldberg, Earl Warren, Tom Clark, Hugo Black, William Douglas, Felix Frankfurter and Louis Brandeis.

Conservative reaction is mixed:

Some conservatives are worried that Ms. Miers has not shown that she will support their views when on the bench.

Concerned Women for America released a statement saying it was taking a "wait and see" approach.
"We give Harriet Miers the benefit of the doubt because thus far, President Bush has selected nominees to the federal courts who are committed to the written Constitution," said Jan LaRue of CWA. "Whether we can support her will depend on what we learn from her record and the hearing process."

Family Research Council. President Tony Perkins: "President Bush has long made it clear that his choices for the U.S. Supreme Court would be in the mold of current justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. We have no reason to believe he has abandoned that standard. However, our lack of knowledge about Harriet Miers and the absence of a record on the bench give us insufficient information from which to assess whether or not she is indeed in that mold.

Public Advocate president, Eugene Delgaudio was clear in his opposition: "The president's nomination of Miers is a betrayal of the conservative, pro-family voters whose support put Bush in the White House in both the 2000 and 2004 elections and who were promised Supreme Court appointments in the mold of Thomas and Scalia. Instead we were given 'stealth nominees,' who have never ruled on controversial issues, more in the mold of the disastrous choice of David Souter by this president's father.

"When there are so many proven judges in the mix, it is unacceptable this president has appointed a political crony with no conservative credentials. This attempt at 'Bush Packing' the Supreme Court must not be allowed to pass the Senate, and we will forcefully oppose this nomination."

Operation Rescue also opposes Miers. "We must reject the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court of the United States," said the group’s president, Troy Newman.
"President Bush promised that he would appoint strong constitutional constructionist to the Supreme Court in the mold of Thomas and Scalia, but Miers is no Thomas or Scalia. We must be given a nominee that will restore the protections of personhood to the pre-born. If your head was about to be crushed, would you want to trust you life to someone who will not state their position on your murder?"
Other conservative groups favor Miers.

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and president of the National Pro-life Religious Council, thanked President Bush this morning for nominating a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a timely manner, and called upon the Senate to do its work in an expeditious way as well.
"Our prayers are with Harriet Miers this morning as she begins this important process. We trust the President's judgment and his determination to fulfill his promises about the kind of Justices he wants to see on the Court.
"It is the judgment of certain liberal Senators, however, that gives us more concern. The demand that some make for preserving the current ideological balance on the Court, or for more "mainstream" nominees, is ridiculous. Do we have a more "mainstream" Constitution in some generations but not in others? Or do they think it is up to the Justices to re-write the Constitution? In short, there is no Constitutional requirement that Justice O'Connor's replacement should be a clone of Justice O'Connor.

"The place for arguments about ideology and mainstream positions is in political races. For the purposes of confirming nominees to the Court, the focus should be on qualifications to be a Justice, not on personal views on controversial issues." (We don’t know how Fr. Pavone would feel about nominees whose personal views supported the right to abortion.)

According to Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative law group:
"Once again, President Bush showed exceptional judgment in naming Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court to replace Justice O'Connor," said Sekulow in a statement. "At a time when the high court is facing some of the most critical issues of the day – including a number of cases dealing directly with abortion and life issues – the person who replaces Justice O'Connor is critical.

"Harriet Miers is an excellent choice with an extraordinary record of service in the legal community and is certain to approach her work on the high court with a firm commitment to follow the Constitution and the rule of law. I have been privileged to work with her in her capacity as White House counsel. She is bright, thoughtful, and a consummate professional, and I enthusiastically endorse her nomination."

Sekulow said his organization is ready to mount a campaign in support of Miers, similar to their support of John Roberts during his confirmation process as Chief Justice.

"We know the intentions of the liberal left – to do anything possible to derail this nominee," said Sekulow. "We are prepared to meet those challenges head on and ensure that this battle ends with the confirmation of Harriet Miers as an associate justice of the Supreme Court."

Sekulow may claim to know the intentions of liberals. However, their reaction is also mixed.

"I see no negatives at this stage in Harriet Miers. ... What her values are and where she will stand on this court remains to be seen." _ Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.,

"America can't afford a replay of the unrevealing confirmation process that preceded Chief Justice Roberts' confirmation. ... Without a meaningful exchange during the confirmation hearings, there is no way to know how Ms. Miers views the Constitution, whether she's a strict constructionist in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas, or whether she will protect fundamental rights." _ Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

"With no past judicial experience for the senators to consider, the burden will be on Miers to be forthright with the Senate and the American people. She must outline her judicial philosophy and provide direct answers to questions about how and whether she will uphold fundamental rights, liberties and legal protections on which Americans rely. ... There must be no rush to judgment." _ Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way.

At this point we know very little about Miers. Her nomination and confirmation debate will probably be more important than those for John Roberts, who replaced Chief Justice William Rehquinst. Rehquinst was clearly one of the most conservative members of the court; it is unlikely that his replacement by Roberts could move the court any more to the right. However, Miers is replacing the more moderate, and often swing vote, of Sandra Day O’Conner. If Miers turns out to be a Scalia-Thomas type conservative, her confirmation would swing the court to the right.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Indicted

The House Republican leader, Texas Representative Tom DeLay, was indicted today on Texas felony conspiracy charge for his alleged involvement in campaign finance irregularities.
A copy of the indictment, including a copy of a check allegedly involved in the crime, can be found on the Smoking Gun web site.

DeLay temporarily stepped down from his leadership position which will be filled by Roy Blunt from Missouri.

The Washington Post has an editorial and analysis of the effect of the DeLay indictment.

Monday, September 26, 2005

CBS News: Michael Brown Hired as FEMA Consultant

According to the CBS news web site, correspondent Gloria Borger reported this evening that Michael Brown, the former FEMA director, has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to evaluate it's response following Hurricane Katrina.

This has not, as of the time of this post, been reported independently elsewhere. We hope it is not true. Certainly not even the current administration would hire a disgraced FEMA director to evaluate his own performance. But strange things happen.

If CBS retracts the story, we will report it. If the story is confirmed, it will be reported here. Stay tuned.

Note: The story has been confirmed by multiple news services. - 9/27/05

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Judge Roberts Should Be Confirmed, with Democratic Support

John Roberts appears to be very conservative, far to the right of the opinion of the majority of Americans and to the right of the majority of the already conservative court. He is not the person itismyopinion would select for Chief Justice of the United States, if we were given the choice.

However, we were not given the choice. The choice belongs to George Bush, who will appoint someone acceptable to his far right base. If the Senate does not confirm Roberts, Bush will simply appoint another conservative, and probably someone less desirable than Judge Roberts.

There are several important points to consider about Judge Roberts:

He will be replacing the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Because Rehnquist was one of the three most conservative justices, his replacement by Roberts will not move the court to the right. Roberts may even be more moderate than Rehnquist.

Roberts is very qualified. He has experience, from being a clerk to Justice Rehnquist, and writing many briefs and arguing many cases before the Supreme Court, and serving as a judge on the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Roberts has told the Senate of his respect for precedent (stare decisis) and his belief that there is a constitutional right to privacy. This indicates that he might not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and destroy constitutional protection to the right to abortion. We don’t know how he will vote, but we do know that Chief Justice Rehnquist would favor overturning Roe. Most likely any other nominee by President Bush would favor destroying the right to abortion.

Unlike Justices Scalia and Thomas, Roberts is not an “originalist” who believes that the constitution should be interpreted just as the framers would interpret it.

Another reason for Democrats to vote to confirm Roberts is political. There is no question that Roberts will be confirmed; the Republicans are in the majority in the Senate, and it does not appear that 40 Democratic Senators will join a filibuster. However, confirmation is not the only issue. Both the President and the nominee would much prefer a strong vote for confirmation than a close vote. If the Democrats vote against confirmation, why should Bush nominate someone of Roberts’ quality when he could just as well nominate a less qualified but more right wing justice who will receive the same close Senate vote but will excite the president’s far right wing base.

see Washington Post editorial

Thursday, September 15, 2005

George Bush Addresses the Nation

So the president is going to spend billions rebuilding New Orleans. He didn’t say where the money is coming from. We still have a massive deficit, and are spending billions in Iraq. Does Bush just plan to borrow more money? He didn’t say anything about taxes. Will he continue to push for additional tax cuts or will he admit that we have to cancel some of the cuts to help pay for the rebuilding.

He made a pitch for home ownership, wanting more families to own rather than rent their houses. But to own your home you have to have a good job. However, Bush has suspended application of the Davis-Bacon Act, a federal law that would require government contractors to pay prevailing pay. The suspension will allow contractors to take advantage of the high unemployment and pay low wages, even for work on no-bid contracts. The contractors can save on wages and not pass the savings to the government.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Do we need federal fast emergency response?

Is FEMA a quick responder in case of major emergencies? Or is mission one of training, long range planning, and funding recovery efforts (leaving the initial response to state and local officials)?

Following the Katrina disaster, the resignation of FEMA director Mike Brown, and the accusations of ineptitude and perhaps dishonesty on the part of the Brown, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff, there will surely be investigations of the bungling of the disaster.

In addition to fixing blame, there should be a discussion, and a decision on another more important issue: should there be a federal capability for fast response to a natural or manmade disaster.

Since 9/11, the consensus has been that there should be such capability. Ironically, the response to 9/11 may have played a role in the weakening of FEMA.

At one time, FEMA was not a fast responding agency. They would arrange, after the fact, to provide for temporary housing and relief funding for victims. After hurricane Andrew hit Florida, FEMA was criticized for its slow response. FEMA was placed under James L. Witt, who was given cabinet status in the Clinton administration. The new goals for FEMA included the ability to respond when needed.

Things changed under George W. Bush. Bush appointed his campaign manager Joe M. Allbaugh as director of FEMA. Allbaugh complained to a congressional committee that FEMA was an “oversized entitlement program” and planned to shift responsibility and funding onto state and local governments.

After 9/11 and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA lost its cabinet status and became a part of DHS.

Certainly many emergencies can be handled by local and state authorities. However a major disaster, affecting multiple states, can overwhelm local authorities.

Should there be a federal quick response to major emergencies, particularly ones that affect small states with more limited capability?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Cleanup Cash Goes to Familiar Faces

The Washington Post has a story about how tens of billions of dollars will be paid for Katrina related contracts. Many of these contracts are no-bid contracts given to contractors who have worked for the various federal agencies in the past.

This is certainly faster than requiring the usual bid process. However, we must be careful to see that the contract are awarded on the basis of proven success than on campaign contributions.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Bush Vacation to Set Record

According to a story in the Washington Post Wednesday by Jim VanderHei and Peter Baker, President Bush’s Crawford Texas vacation, started Tuesday, will be the longest stretch away from Washington by any president in the past 36 years. This vacation will last about five weeks.

Adding to the cost of transporting the First Family on Air Force One, Bush plans to make day trips to seven states during the vacation. Also, it is expected that cabinet officers and other officials will be traveling to Texas to meet with Bush or with White House staffers traveling with Bush.

According to the White House, this will allow Bush to reconnect with everyday America. Press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters that it was a time for the President to “meet with folks out in the heartland and hear what’s on their minds.”

We will have to wait and see how many “folks out in the heartland” will be able to let Bush know what’s on their minds. However, Bush has missed many chances to hear what’s on peoples minds when he traveled to promote social security changes and spoke only to a screened audience and only allowed invited guests to speak

Friday, August 05, 2005

Fourth Anniversary of “Bin Laden Determined To Strike” Presidential Brief

On August 6th, 2001, President Bush, while on vacation in Crawford, Texas, received the “Presidential Daily Brief” (PDB) that warned that Bin Laden was determined to strike the U. S., and brought up the possibility that hijacked planes would be used. Apparently the warnings were not taken seriously until slightly over a month later, September 11, 2001.

Just as four years ago Bush is again on vacation in Crawford Texas. We can only hope he is more serious about his briefings this year.

See Kicking Ass, the official Democratic Party blog for more.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rep. Pete King (R-NY) "people like Tim Russert ...and all the media, they're the ones to be shot"

Saying that members of the media should be shot for their criticism of Karl Rove is not becoming of a member of congress. However, Rep. Pete King, a Republican from the 3rd district of New York spoke on MSNBC's Scarborough Country on July 12 about the Karl Rove controversy. After defending Rove and criticizing Joe Wilson, King said:

"And Joe Wilson has no right to complain. And I think people like Tim Russert and the others, who gave this guy such a free ride and all the media, they're the ones to be shot, not Karl Rove. Listen, maybe Karl Rove was not perfect. We live in an imperfect world. And I give him credit for having the guts. " (emphasis added)

View the video on www.crooksandliars.com. Read the transcript on MSNBC. Thanks also to via Eschaton for coverage.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Did Paul Harvey Cross the Line?

Paul Harvey, known for his biased and often incorrect "news" and commentary, made comments on June 23 that some feel support the idea of using nuclear weapons in the middle east and maybe even supported our killing (by spreading small pox) the Indians as well as slavery. Harvey seems to lament that we are now "made of sugar candy" because, although we quickly ended the war with Japan with nuclear weapons now "we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq and kept our best weapons in their silos".

Read the transcript at www.chicagotribune.com
and send comments to Disney (distributer of his radio programming) at http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2569.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

This is President Bush's Birthday. Send him a card.

Today is President Bush's 59th birthday. You may send him a birthday card online at the GOP web site, but that is tied to a donation. You may also send him a free birthday card at the The Democratic Party.

You may wish to let him know how much you look forward to his retirement.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Bush to oppose global warming accord at G8

According to a British television ITV in a story to be broadcast this evening, President Bush, soon to travel to the UK for the G8 summit, has told ITV that he opposed any Kyoto like agreement on global warming. `"If (the proposal) looks like Kyoto, the answer is no" Bush told ITV, according to an early transcript.

We will have more on the story later.


The Guardian has a transcript of the Bush interview with Britain's ITV1. Thanks to AmericaBlog for the lead.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's Announces Retirement

On July 1 Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced that she would retire from the Supreme Court in order to spend more time with her husband. This comes at a time when the retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist was expected but has not been announced.

Justice O'Conner's retirement will have a greater impact on the court that a Rehnquist retirement. Rehnquist is one of the most conservative justices; O'Conner is more moderate. President Bush has indicated that his judicial appointments will be very conservative, referring to Justices Scalia and Thomas as models. A replacement of O'Conner with a conservative of the Scalia or Thomas mold will definitely swing the court to the right.

Many conservatives look to the OConner retirement as a chance to make a change in the court. After the retirement was announced, James Dobson, of the far-right group Focus on the Family Action, commented that "President Bush must nominate someone whose judicial philosophy is crystal clear. And no one has been clearer about this than the President himself, who said during his campaign that he would appoint justices in the mold of Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia. We have full confidence that he will carry out that pledge."

Further information, speculation, and discussion can be found on the blogs SCOTUSblog and its companion The Supreme Court Nomination Blog.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Republican Congressman: Saddam involved in 9/11

In spite of statements to the contrary in the 9/11 Commission report, Representative Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) told CNN Wednesday that "Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11" When the CNN interviewer responded that no investigation had ever found evidence to link Saddam and 9/11, Hayes said "I'm sorry, but you must have looked in the wrong places."

Hayes said that legislator have access to evidence that others do not. However, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), was asked by CNN about Hayes statement, said "I haven't seen compelling evidence of that"

The 9/11 Commission report reported that Bin Ladin, the al Qaeda leader, had "been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan, and sought to attract them into his Islamic army." The report also said that investigators had nor found evidence of an operational relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam. "Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States".

President Bush, in spite of mentioning 9/11 in his Tuesday night address (without defining any real link to Iraq), did state in September, 2003, that "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with" the 9/11 attacks.

The blog Crooks and Liars has video of the CNN interview.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bush: It is important...to lay out a timetable...

No, in this evenings speech on TV President Bush did not announce a timetable or support for a timetable for withdrawal. However...

Speaking during the Clinton andministration's involvement in Eastern Europe:
Houston Chronicle April 9, 1999: "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is."

Scripps Howard -- Feb. 9, 1999 "I would strongly urge that if there are U.S. troops involved, they be under U.S. command or NATO command," Bush said Thursday. "I think it's also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn."

On his own war in Iraq:
White House press release June 24, 2005: "There's not going to be any timetables. I mean, I've told this to the Prime Minister. We are there to complete a mission, and it's an important mission. A democratic Iraq is in the interest of the United States of America, and it's in the interest of laying the foundation for peace. And if that's the mission, then why would you -- why would you say to the enemy, you know, here's a timetable, just go ahead and wait us out? It doesn't make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you're -- you're conceding too much to the enemy.

Thanks to Think Progress for the leads.

Blog Watch:

June 28:
KIcking Ass, the DNC blog, had a statement from the North Carolina Democratic party chair Jerry Meek welcoming President Bush to North Carolina for his speech at 8pm tonight. He also suggest that maybe Bush should tell us how long we will be in Iraq and answer some other questions. Meek stated "While we are unwavering in our support for our men in women in harm's way, their Commander-in-Chief's leadership is lacking. Yes, Mr. President. Welcome to North Carolina. North Carolinians are eager for honest answers."

Meanwhile the Raleigh, NC News and Observer reported its poll showning falling support in that state for the war. The latest figures indicated that 49 percent of the respondents did not agree that the war had been "worth it"; only 42 percent agreed that the war had been worth the cost.

June 24:
In case you missed Howard Dean on the Daily Show last night, Crooks and Liars has video on their site.

June 23:

Atrios suggests that constituents of Republicans in congress contact their representatives to ask if Carl Rove speaks for them. (The Atrios blog refers to http://www.first-draft.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3540&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0) Rove, according to reports by the New York Times, stated "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals." (emphasis added).
Kicking Ass, the DNC blog, has a story "GOP exploits memory of 9/11 for partisan gain" concerning Rove's statements and inconsistencies with previous White House statements, in a well researched piece by DNC Research.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Rove, Liberals, and Therapy

Carl Rove told the conservative party that liberals wanted to offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. He is a little mixed up. Liberals want to offer therapy for Mr. Rove. Perhaps he can hire Tom Cruise for some psychiatry.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Cheney: "If you look at what the dictionary says about throes... "

Dick Cheney has come under criticism for is comment on Larry King that the Iraq insurgency was in its "last throes". On Thursday, June 23, Cheney went Clintonian, discussing the meaning of "throes".

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Chaney said "If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be a violent period, the throes of a revolution". Cheney went on to predict a huge defeat for the insurgents.

General John Abizaid, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing otherwise.

Senator Carl Levin: General Abizaid, can you give us your assessment of the strength of the insurgency. Is it less strong, more strong, about the same strength as it was six months ago?

General Abizaid: Senator, I'd say… In terms of comparison from six months ago, in terms of foreign fighters, I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago. In terms of the overall strength of the insurgency, I'd say it's about the same as it was.

Levin: So you wouldn't agree with the statement that it's 'in its last throes'?

Abizaid: I don't know that I would make any comment about that, other than to say there's a lot of work to be done against the insurgency.

Levin: Well, the Vice-President has said it's in its last throes. That's the statement that the Vice President. Doesn't sound to me from your testimony, or any other testimony here this morning, that it is in its last throes.

Abizaid: I'm sure you'll forgive me from criticizing the Vice-President.

Levin: I just want an honest assessment from you as to whether you agree with a particular statement of his, it's not personal. I just want to know whether you agree with that assessment. It's not a personal attack on him, any more than if he says that something is a fact and you disagree with it, we would expect you to say you disagree with it.

Abizaid: I gave you my opinion of where we are.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Salon.com News | Dissent within the ranks

Salon.com today has a story about politicians who can't be considered "anti-war lefties" who are criticizing Bush's Iraq policy. Even Republicans are more openly opposing the war.

Sen. Chuck Hagle (R-Nebraska) said that "the White House is completely disconnected from reality ... The reality is that we're losing in Iraq." Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), was asked on "Meet The Press" if the Iraq insurgency was in the "last throes", as Dick Cheney claimed. McCain replied "no".

And Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), who, at the start of the war asked that french fries be called "freedom fries", has asked that the troops be withdrawn from Iraq.

Salon.com News | Dissent within the ranks

June 23: Add Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. to the list. In today's Senate hearing on Iraq, while questioning Sec. Rumsfeld: "The public views this every day, Mr. Secretary, more and more like Vietnam. ... In the last year, Sir, the public support in my state has turned, and I worry about that, because that's the only way we'll ever leave before we should, is if the public loses faith in us." From Fox 23, WXXA-TV, Albany, NY.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Jenna? Barbara? Your war is waiting

Salon.com points out that with the military's inability to meet its recruiting goal, perhaps President Bush's daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush should enlist.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked at a White House press briefing if any of the president's family are currently serving in the military. McClellan did not admit to knowing the answer. The answer however, is no.

We still have two types of people in the United States: those who decide to go to war and those who go to war.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Kicking Ass (DNC) - White House Disconnected from reality

In a post today, the Democratic blog comments on the disconnect from reality of the White House with the "last throes" comment of Dick Cheney compared to quotes from Republican Senators John McCain and Chuck Hagel.

Congress Assaults the Courts, Again - New York Times

The New York Times published an editorial Saturday concerning a measure the U.S. House of Representatives pass that would bar federal money from being spent to enforce a federal court ruling regarding the Ten Commandments.

A mounument depicting the Ten Commandments is displayed on the Gibson County Courthouse in Princeton, Indiana. A federal district judge ruled that the presence of the monument to an endorsement of religion because, as he states, the display is “in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The local Congressman, Rep. John Hostettler of Indiania's Eighth District wrote a letter to President Bush on Feb. 17, 2005 asking that the president instruct the Department of Justice and the U. S. Marshal Service not to enforce this decision (or the decision of any appelate court or the Supreme Court) to remove the monument. In the letter Rep. Hostettler claimed that enforcement of such an order would be "inconsistent with both the clear intent of the Framers and the Christian heritage of the United States".

Rep. Hostettler admits that federal law provides that "Except as otherwise provided by law or Rule of Procedure, the United States Marshals Service shall execute all lawful writs, process, and orders issued under the authority of the United States...". However, he claims that "this ruling by the Southern District Court in Indiana is not a lawful decision consistent with the Constitution". Apparently, Rep. Hostettler believes that it is for himself, or for the president, rather than for an appellate court or the Supreme Court, to determine if a lower court ruling is consistent with the constitution.

Rep. Hostettler then introduced an amendment to the bill that funds the Justice Department that would prohibit federal funds from being spent to enforce the court's order. This would, in effect, prevent the Marshals Service from carrying out their required duty of enforcing court orders. The amendment passed the House by a 242-182 vote.

Rep. Hostettler, and many other House members, apparently do not understand two important values of our form of government.

First, we have a government "of laws, not of men". It is the proper role of the courts to uphold the constitution. It is not up to individuals, either Members of Congress or presidents to substitute their judgement.

Secondly, while the majority of the founders of the country may have been Christian, we do not base government action on "Christian heritage". Our country is one of many religions, some of which recognize the Ten Commandments and some of which do not. Some Americans would consider government protection of "graven images" to be against their religion.

NYT Editorial
Hostettler press release
Hostettler letter to the President
Crooks and Liars

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Supreme Court Nomination Blog: Analysis: Today's Washington Post

The Supreme Court Nomination Blog is a blog that will certainly become very important over the next few weeks if, as expected, Chief Justice Rehnquist announces his retirement at the end of the current term. This announcement may come Monday, 6/20/05, or within the next couple of weeks.

Tonight the blog posted an in-depth analysis of an article in today's (Sun., 6/19/05) Washington Post. I won't try to recap it here, but recommend it as important reading for those who are interested in the future direction of the Court.

Is the Justice Department Undermining the Protection of Medical Privacy?

An opinion dated June 1, 2005 but not made public until New York Times article of June 7, answers a request from the general counsel of HHS for clarification of the scope of the HIPAA criminal provision.

According to Swire’s analysis, “the OLC opinion is terribly frustrating to read. The opinion reads like a brief for one side of an argument. Even worse, it reads like a brief that knows it has the losing side but has to come out with a predetermined answer.”

Swire states that “The opinion had assumed that Congress wanted to exempt employees and thieves from criminal penalty.”

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Jeb Bush Just Won’t Stop Exploiting Terri Schiavo

Florida Governor and presidential brother Jeb Bush just won’t let go. The sad case of Terri Schiavo was good for his courtship of the extreme religious right. After Ms. Schiavo’s autopsy revealed that her condition had been beyond hope and that therapy would not have been of any use, Bush jumps back into the Shiavo news by asking a state prosecutor to investigate Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband.

The reason for the investigation: Bush’s allegation that Michael Schiavo waited from 40 to 70 minutes from when he heard is wife fall to when he called 911.

In a statement issued by his lawyer, Schiavo stated “I have consistently said over the years that I didn’t wait but ran to call 911 after Terri collapsed.” The 911 call was recorded at 5:40 a.m. on Feb. 25, 1990. There is no evidence that there was any delay in the call except for statements made by Michael Shiavo. In a 1992 medical malpractice trial he testified that he found his wife at 5 a.m., and in a 2004 television interview he said that he found her at 4:30 a.m.

The autopsy report places the 911 call about 5:40 a.m. Paramedics found her not breathing at 5:52 a.m., and a pulse was measured at 6:32 a.m. A University of South Florida pathology professor, Dr. Amyn M. Rojiani, who reviewed the autopsy reports for the St. Petersburg Times said he does not believe Schiavo could have been revived if her husband had waited 70 minutes to call for help.

In the malpractice trial in 1992 in which Michael Schiavo successfully sued his wife's doctors, the doctor's attorneys likely would certainly have used any evidence in a delay in calling for help.

But is there any significance to the conflicts in the statements? The one consistency, and the one thing that Schiavo could be reasonable certain, is that the call was made immediately after he heard her collapse. However, in such a situation it is not likely that he would have noted the time. He has said that he was not wearing a watch and did not look at a clock. Not having known the time, his statements two years later and again 14 years later were guesses and could not have any real validity.

Bush, however, is more certain of which statements were correct. "Between 40 and 70 minutes elapsed before the call was made, and I am aware of no explanation for the delay," Bush wrote. "In light of this new information, I urge you to take a fresh look at this case without any preconceptions as to the outcome."

Friday, June 17, 2005

Trade Deficit at New High

Some say that the loss of manufacturing jobs to foreign contries is offset by more exports to those countries. However, if this is the case, why is the trade deficit continuing to rise?

The deficit in the broadest measure of international trade rose to an all-time high of $195.1 billion from January through March of this year as the country sank deeper into debt to Japan, China and other nations.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the deficit in the current account rose by 3.6 percent from the previous quarterly record, an imbalance of $188.4 billion in the final three months of 2004.

Read Article on Yahoo! Finance

Danforth: Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers - New York Times

Episcopal minister and former Republican Senator John C. Danforth, in a NY Time Op-Ed, made it clear that culture wars are not between people of faith and nonbelivers. Danforth pointed out that many religious people favor stem cell research and were against government intervention in the Terri Schiavo case.

According to Danforth, "In recent years, conservative Christians have presented themselves as representing the one authentic Christian perspective on politics. With due respect for our conservative friends, equally devout Christians come to very different conclusions."

"Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda that they believe advances God's kingdom, one that includes efforts to 'put God back' into the public square and to pass a constitutional amendment intended to protect marriage from the perceived threat of homosexuality."

Danforth continued: "Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgement of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers."

In a March 30, 2005 New York Times Op-ed, Danforth said that it was a problem that "a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement."

Read NYT article

NPR : Taking a Second Look at Nuclear Power

There was a discussion of nuclear power as an alternative to greenhouse gas on NPR's Talk of the Nation this afternoon. Much of the discussion was a debate between Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and Angie Howard , executive vice president, Nuclear Energy Institute.

The atudo for the story will be available after about 6pm ET this evening at NPR's web site.

Tom DeLay Going to the Moon?

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) today said the Science, State, Justice and Commerce spending bill, which includes $16.5 billion for NASA, will continue Congress' work to implement President Bush's bold new vision for space exploration. The bill, which includes far more than space spending, past the House of Representatives by a large, bipartisan vote.

"The return of the shuttle to flight is the first step in a long process that, truth be told, may outlast most of our careers," DeLay said. "We're still years away from the moon, and even further away from Mars, but make no mistake - we're going.

The funding bill passed today sets aside $16.5 billion for NASA, an increase of $275 million above last year's bill and $15 million above the administration's request. In addition to providing the full request for the Space Shuttle program, this legislation funds the president's vision for space exploration at $3.1 billion.

DeLay is known as one of Congress' strongest proponents of space exploration.

While many people, in the face of a record and growing national debt, would like to limit government expense, many of the same people would love to see Tom DeLay travel to the moon or Mars.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Senate Energy Bill to Help Former Enron Executive

According to Public Citizen, a public interest non-profit organization, the energy bill currently being considered in the U. S. Senate provides for a load guarantee for an energy from coal project. The description of the project in the bill narrows, according to Public Citizen, the load guarantees to one company's project. And that company, DKRW Energy, was founded by Jon C. Doyle, Robert C. Kelly, H. David Ramm, and Thomas White, all former executives of Enron. White was President Bush's Secretary of the Army after leaving Enron."

Read more http://www.itismyopinion.com/articles/60805energybill.html

Saturday, June 04, 2005

It Is My Opinion - Working Three Jobs. Uniquely American?

On Feb 4, 2005, President Bush traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to push for Social Security privatization. One of the people he talked to was Mary Mornin, a devoiced mother of three grown children. Part of the discussion:
THE PRESIDENT: There's a certain comfort to know that the promises made will be kept by the government. You don't have to worry.
MS. MORNIN: That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.
THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?
MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)
Does President Bush really think that working three jobs is "uniquely American"? Does he think that it speaks well for our economic condition that someone would have to work three jobs? Apparently, to him it is "fantastic". It is good to know that he has created so many jobs; Ms. Mornin has three of them. Doesn't he understand that with the jobs he is creating it takes more than one to support a family?
Morton Bahr, president of the Communications Workers of America union, stated that Bush's comments "show how frighteningly out of touch he is with reality. He refuses to acknowledge any link between Americans working two, three or more jobs and the impact of his devastating tax cuts for the rich and budget cuts for the poor. From his point of view, working that hard is 'fantastic.' For him, it's all about character, not financial desperation."
Transcript at:www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/02/20050204-3.html

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

It is time for Democrats to propose a Social Security plan.

President Bush is stuck on his plan to privatize Social Security and will not discuss any plan other than privatization. Social Security is not in the crisis that Bush claims. However, to maintian solvency after 2041 something must be done. It is time for the Democrats to assume leadership of the issue and propose their plan.